Taste the Possibilities: Adding Value to Your Ag Business
November 2014, 80 farmers, food artisans, agricultural support organizations, and representatives from Sonoma County agencies gathered together to attend an all-day workshop. Attendees were interested in learning the ins and outs of creating small-batch and artisanal “value-added” products featuring locally grown fruits and vegetables. Value-added production is an emerging food trend with the potential to help grow the local economy and support farmers’ livelihood by tapping new revenue streams from preserving the peak of harvest and farm seconds which may otherwise go to waste.
Participants left the day feeling inspired to try something new and better informed in order to increase their chances for success. Key takeaways for farmers interested in becoming value-added producers included:
- Choosing the right food facility to meet production needs. There are a variety of options available to make value-added food products including becoming a Cottage Food Operation, renting a commercial kitchen, and using the services of a co-packer. Each comes with its own unique costs and benefits.
- Finding the right industry experts to help ensure success. Specialty foods consultants can help with marketing products and getting them on the store shelves. Co-packers can help small producers scale up to meet growing demand. Both can help free up farmers’ time, so that they can focus on farming.
- Getting connected with local marketing tools and resources. The local Economic Development Board and Small Business Development Center can help new producers determine if there is a market for their product and connect them with innovative ideas about the best way to promote their new creations.
- Leveraging the power of LOCAL. Utilizing local marketing initiatives and local branding campaigns can help give small-scale value-added producers an advantage, help get products on store shelves, and attract consumers’ attention.
Success Stories Panel
- Kevin McEnnis, Quetzal Farm
- Merrillee Olson, PRESERVE Sonoma
- Kelley Rajala, Made Local Marketplace
- Tony Linegar, Agricultural Commissioners
- Karen Giovannini, UCCE
- Michelle Dubin, FEED Sonoma
- Selling produce wholesale
- Jeremy Lyle, Environmental Health
- Merrilee Olson, PRESERVE Farm Kitchens
- Co-packer (formerly PRESERVE Sonoma)
- Karen Giovannini, UCCE
- Ethan Brown, Economic Development Board
- Mary Cervantes, Small Business Development Center
Marketing & Promotions