Using All the Resources Available – Build Your Network

Success sogm

Photo (CC) Bruce Berrien, on Flickr

In order to do the best job we can, whether we are in business or are a service provider, the bottom line is we must use every resource available.

For business owners, one such resource are other business owners. This idea formed the basis for the Power of Business effort.

For service providers, such as those of us working for Extension, we have this vast network of each other that we can turn to for help and ideas.

Both of these internal resources are great and I hope you use them. Yet many more resources exist in organizations and businesses outside of our and second circles of connections. The example I will use here is the Farmers Market Federation of NY. 

This organization provides information for customers, farmers, and market managers. I have followed it for a couple of years. No, I am not from NY but what they provide gives me ideas for my work with local food promotion and the growers involved in that effort.

In there August 17th newsletter, they wrote about holding music events during market days. Now that may not be something new to you, but they included a press release used by a market manager, the Facebook event connection, and a photo used.

The article also provided some other resources (I love these type of freebies) including where to find special days and months (National Chicken Month, National Smile Day, etc). This lets you make an event when you might not think nothing exists. They also challenged market managers to make the market the special event of the week.

There may be nothing new here, but outside resources, such as these, can remind us of ideas we may have forgotten and new twists to something we are already doing. 


Field to Fork: Growing, Processing and Selling Local Food Safely

Farm workerThere are two big food movements currently going on in this country.

The first, the one we all have heard of, is that of local foods. Every state has some sort of activity going on. More and more people are enjoying getting fresh food from local producers. It’s great to get food ripened in the great outdoors and brought to us at its peak of freshness and taste.

The second movement we also have heard much about, although not lately. That issue is food safety. It arises most often when something happens somewhere in the process and people suffer. No one wants that to happen. Regulations have been passed and laws made but sometimes such events still occur.

It is important for anyone in the system, from growers through distributors and merchants, to do everything possible to keep our food supply safe. And that responsibility continues right on to the consumer to do his or her part.

With those thoughts in mind, Field to Fork, an effort of Julie Garden-Robinson of North Dakota State University Extension, was development of information on building a successful local foods business along with making sure the products stay safe throughout the process.

Check out the videos offering a variety of tips, including those for food safety.

And good luck.


Small Farmers Can Make Food Safety Work: The GroupGAP Pilot in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Photo by Lance Cheung.

Photo by Lance Cheung.

As spring arrives, access to local foods will be once again be on the mind of consumers.  And one of the things they will be asking is about food safety. The Michigan State Center for Regional Food Systems shares their report on a food safety pilot project they tried.  Thanks to Mary Zumbrunnen, Richard Pirog, Michelle Walk, Phil Britton, Phil Tocco and Natasha Lantz for their work and for sharing the report.

Those of us working in local food  know how important food safety has become to farmers, food hubs, and food buyers; we all want to have safe food and we also want small farmers to continue to have access to a variety of direct and intermediate food markets.  This case study (link below) provides an overview of the processes, challenges, benefits, and lessons learned from the Group Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) pilot project in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan.

The project goal was to test how a group-based farm-based food safety certification process could benefit small farmers.  The U.P. GroupGAP pilot project and this publication is a cooperative project led by the U.P. Food Exchange, MSU Extension, Marquette Food Coop, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) and the Wallace Center at Winrock International.  Partial funding to support this pilot project came from the USDA Speciality Crop Block Grant program (administered by MDARD) – provided to MIFFS. Other funding sources include the U.P. Food Exchange, the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Special thanks also goes to Cherry Capital Foods.