2012 Producers Summit Wrap-Up
MCA hosted the second annual producers summit in February, gathering local farmers and presenters on a number of topics.
MCA staff reported on areas of progress since last years summit. Land Link was launched to connect new and expanding farmers with land, the producers listserve has been a-buzz with farmers swapping know-how on livestock and equipment, and we are beginning to gather information on all facets of farming (permits, processing, marketing, financing, etc.) in the “So you want to…” section of the website. Labor Link is another endeavor that is in the fledgling stage- an effort to connect farmers clamoring for reliable labor with unemployed folks looking for work. For more information or to get involved with any of these programs, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A duo of presentations on marketing your farm and your product were well received from the managers of two successful local farmers markets: one presentation from Gigi Goin of Briggs Chaney and Greencastle Farmers and Artisan Market and one from Suzanne Hermes of Potomac Village Farmers Market. The big take away- the act of buying local food is a celebration of the community we share.
Recently, the town of Poolesville has suffered the one-two punch of loosing its only grocery store, followed by the new organic market- leading to an ironic twist: there are no grocery stores in the entire Ag Reserve, technically making the area that grows food into a food desert. Mixed Greens & Community Kitchen is seeking to change that and is in the planning process for a farmers coop/market in Poolesville. Their presentation served to gather input about what farmers and customers would like to see the market provide.
Farmer Dick Stoner brought fresh ideas on marketing using QR codes- smartphone scanable bits of code that can be generated for free online and direct users to a website. Here is a mock-up of how they might be used to brand a farm.
Dick also talked about the opportunity for small farms to get inexpensive barcodes on farm products- enabling them to be sold at large retail stores along side the goods from larger farms. Dick just received a grant to fund these projects. Along with a few other farms, Stoner Family Farm has started Locale Chesapeake (click on Maryland), a cooperative of small sustainable beef producers in Maryland.
Thanks to all that attended the summit and particularly to our presenters- the work continues to protect our rural lands and support the worlds oldest small business- farms!