Tag Archives: business

Wholesale and Institutional Markets – a quick survey for producers

Hey farmers! We’re partnering with the Agency of Ag on a project to help determine the level of interest from producers in institutional and wholesale markets.

We’re hoping you can take about 10 minutes out of this busy season to fill out a short survey, which will help us understand the current supply and demand in this market, the level of interest amongst producers, the room for growth, and what kinds of support and technical assistance would be most useful.

We see wholesale and institutional sales (such as those to grocery stores, schools, and hospitals) as a key market for future local foods growth. These markets reach large numbers of customers, many of whom may not be seeking out local products or participating in direct-market channels such as farmers’ markets and CSAs. By making local foods more accessible to more people, we can increase awareness and create demand.

We hope that you’ll help us analyze and understand this market, your participation in it, and how best we can work with producers and other partners to make wholesale and institutional sales successful for Vermont farmers and processors.

Click here to take the survey now!


Congrats to Small Business Award winners!

We are excited to see a number of farm and food businesses (and NOFA-VT members!) have won awards from Vermont Business Magazine and the US Small Business Administration.

These include:

Small Business People of the Year:
Bill Cherry & Jeff Neiblum of Switchback Brewing in Burlington (not members, but great local beer!)

Family-Owned Small Business:
Kelt & Kristina Naylor of Sidehill Farm in Brattleboro (NOFA-VT members)

Vermont Micro-Enterprise:
Scott Baughman & Lisa Ransom of Grow Compost of Vermont in Moretown (not members, but compost is approved for organic use by VOF)

Woman-Owned Business of the Year:
Sharon Deitz Caroli of The Bees Knees in Morrisville (not a member, but purchases from many local farms)

Young Entrepreneur of the Year:
Joe Bossen II of Vermont Bean Crafters in Mad River (NOFA-VT member)

We know that Vermont’s strong farm and food economy contributes greatly to our overall economic stability – with the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country and a high quality of life. We’re proud of these businesses that are leading the way!

You can attend the SBA award ceremony on June 17 – click here to register.

Is Organic Certification Right for You?

Farms often find that organic certification helps their sales. Photo by Elizabeth Ferry at Cedar Circle Farm.
Farms often find that organic certification helps their sales. Photo by Elizabeth Ferry at Cedar Circle Farm.

Choosing whether or not to become certified organic is a decision that has a lot of factors, including environmental and social values, marketing channels, farm size and type, and more.

We’re working on developing materials to help farmers better understand the potential benefits and challenges of organic certification, including costs, recordkeeping, pricing, marketing, and political impacts.

As part of that effort – and in order to help us understand why farmers do or do not pursue certification – we held (and filmed) a workshop at the 2014 Winter Conference on the topic of “Is Organic Certification Right for my Business?”

This workshop featured three Vermont farmers discussing their experiences with organic certification, and we recommend it as a good starting place if you are considering certification for your farm.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be working with a team of UVM students to organize a few focus groups to explore more deeply what motivates or prevents certification on Vermont’s farms. We’re looking for both certified and non-certified farmers of all kinds to take part. If you’d like to talk with us about your experience with certification, please contact Charles.

You can learn more about the organic certification regulations and requirements on the Vermont Organic Farmers webpage. There are also a number of helpful resources from ATTRA and eOrganic, a program of the university extension network.

Food+Co-ops: VT Farm to Plate Network Generates Collective Impact

Timeline of Farm to Plate progress in 2013. Photo courtesy VT Farm to Plate.
Timeline of Farm to Plate progress in 2013. Credit VT Farm to Plate.

Imagine you are in Paris, in a room full of intelligent, informed people discussing the issues of the day. It is the early 1600s and you are in one of the few social spheres that allows for female leadership. You are in a salon. Perhaps there is art on the walls of the gathering room, and a theater performance. When you arrive, you are announced to the room.

Fast forward to 2013, and it turns out you are actually in a breakout session at one of the most innovative food system conferences in the country. This “salon” is exploring what it will take to connect the dots most effectively between producers and consumers of local/regional food. The backdrop is the 3rd Annual Gathering of Vermont’s Farm to Plate Network. Over 250 representatives of the 300+ member Network attended. Members of the Farm to Plate Network encompass all types and scales of agricultural-related production and processing businesses, government entities, educational institutions, distributors, retailers, and dozens of non-profits from food justice to technical assistance providers. This Network is weaving together all components of Vermont’s food system to strengthen the working landscape, build the resilience of farms, improve environmental quality, and increase local food access for all Vermonters. Continue reading Food+Co-ops: VT Farm to Plate Network Generates Collective Impact

Improve Your Farm Business: A program guide

A successful farm requires solid business and management skills as well as the ability to judge when a tomato is ripe or a calf is sick. There are a number of resources in Vermont designed to help beginning (and experienced) farmers cultivate their management, accounting, planning, and organizing skills – and many of them have enrollment deadlines coming up soon!

Jake Torrey of Honey Locust Farm in Bradford, VT, is a 2013 Journey Farmer.
Jake Torrey of Honey Locust Farm in Bradford, VT, is a 2013 Journey Farmer.

One such program is NOFA Vermont’s Journey Farmer program, designed to help beginning farmers succeed by matching them with experienced farmer mentors, providing them with educational opportunities (including free entrance to our upcoming Winter Conference and an educational stipend), and providing personalized technical and business planning assistance. The application period for this program is currently open through December 18. The Journey Farmer Program is for farmers with a few years of experience, secured access to land, and the intention to farm commercially in Vermont.

If you don’t fit that description, or have different needs, there are other great programs available for everyone from experienced farmers looking to expand or diversify, to aspiring farmers and entrepreneurs interested in testing the waters. Continue reading Improve Your Farm Business: A program guide

UVM Agri-Food Entrepeneur Survey

We’re spreading the word about this survey that UVM is planning to use to “improve education opportunities for current entrepreneurs as well as … train the next generations of agri-food entrepreneurs.” Sounds like a worthy goal!

If you run a business and are in any way working with food in Vermont, we want to hear from you! This may include input suppliers, farmers/ranchers, processors, food manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers or retailers.

We are seeking the input of Vermont agri-food entrepreneurs to understand their educational background and needs in the running of their operation. The results of the survey will be used to improve education opportunities for current entrepreneurs as well as to create new courses or revise existing courses at the university in order to train the next generations of agri-food entrepreneurs.

Please click here to take the survey: https://survey.uvm.edu/index.php?sid=21571&lang=en

This survey is being conducted by David Conner from the Community Development and Applied Economics Department and Florence Becot at the Center for Rural Studies at UVM. The survey should take you approximately 15 minutes to complete. Your participation is voluntary and your responses will be anonymous. Completed surveys will be eligible for a random drawing for two chances to win $50 gift cards.

Please complete the survey by November 8, the drawing will be on or about November 15.

Thank you very much for taking the time to complete the survey. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact David Conner (97dconne@uvm.edu; 802-656-1965).

Survey link: https://survey.uvm.edu/index.php?sid=21571&lang=en