Northeastern producers frequently consider direct marketing and value-added product development to increase revenues on the farm. Food entrepreneurship requires different skillsets than production agriculture. And, introducing value-added foods to the marketplace opens the seller to unique business liability. Therefore, it is important that farmers receive training and support to effectively set up and manage local value-added food enterprises.
A Professional Development project, led by Winifred McGee of Pennsylvania State University, provided Extension educators and other agricultural professionals with training about direct-to-the-consumer enterprises to effectively assist farmers in making informed decisions about whether value-added ventures are feasible, or advisable.
Fifty educators participated in the project, enabling these trainees to conduct workshops or provide one-to-one consultation for food business start-up and management. The training included two series of seven webinars to educate on key topics and sixteen field trips to interview farmers who are successfully adding value and direct marketing.
More than one thousand farmers attended the workshops offered by educators, at which they learned the realities of food business start-up, management, and strategies to address the unique risks associated with adding value. End-of-session surveys documented 874 people who had increased knowledge about starting and managing a food enterprise.
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