Still time to register for the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group meeting in Mobile AL, January 14 – 17 2015

unnamedEarly bird registration for the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group is still open for a little bit longer (2 more days) through December 21st. Register online, or download a registration form and get it postmarked no later than Dec 21st for the lowest conference rates. They accept, via mail, checks made payable to Southern SAWG. They accept, via mail and online, VISA, Master Card, American Express and Discover credit cards. Pre-registration continues through midnight on January 7th. After that, registration will be on location in Mobile.

I will be leading two workshops and also moderating an open discussion (information exchange) this year. Find me here:

Information Exchange:
Friday, 10:45 a.m. – Noon

Using EBT, “Double Coupon” and Other Programs at Farmers Markets – Does your market employ the EBT, FMNP, Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINIP) or WIC programs? Do you have a double coupon incentive program for SNAP, WIC or SFNMP? Discuss technology issues and share best practices for implementing these programs at markets.

Workshops:

Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Why Farmers Markets? Learn to Communicate Their Value to Your Community – Making the case for farmers markets to farmers, shoppers and community leaders is crucial for continued community support, yet most markets struggle with this task. Learn how to capture and communicate meaningful measures of your market’s success. Using exercises and worksheets from the Farmers Market Metrics project, this session will give you practical examples of simple and effective data collection techniques that you can use for your market. Darlene Wolnik, Helping Public Markets Grow (LA) and Sarah Blacklin, NC Choices (NC).

Saturday 3:30-5:00 pm
Farmers Markets as Business Incubators: How Market Managers Can Help Improve Their Vendors’ Businesses – Increasingly competitive market outlets for local food means that the top farmers often jump from market to market. This session will offer practical strategies for market managers and board members on identifying and understanding their anchor vendors and their needs, as well as addressing the challenges of retaining new vendors. Darlene Wolnik, Helping Public Markets Grow (LA) and Sarah Blacklin, NC Choices (NC).

2015 Conference Program — Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group.

Truth & Transparency: Farm Audits for Producer-Only Integrity | Farmers Market Coalition

An excellent webinar today from Farmers Market Coalition on one of California’s farm audit programs. Impressive how much our low-capacity markets are doing to safeguard their mission and values and to protect producers.

Find the recording here.

Forget ‘Whole Paycheck’?

The linked article below tells of Whole Foods’ campaign to let America know of their “cheaper” prices and is interesting news on a few fronts.
One, that the world’s leading natural and organic food store is sharing price comparisons and acknowledging the need to identify costs to their shoppers. Co-CEO Mackay says, “For a long time Whole Foods had the field to ourselves, pretty much. That was nice, but we don’t any longer,” he said on an earnings call with investors. “So we’re adapting to the reality of the marketplace.”

Secondly this: the chain is lowering its prices, particularly on produce.
This may be an indicator of the strength of the farmers market movement that has led WF to become more competitive on fresh produce. That may seem a far jump for some of my readers, but since it was not an issue when they competed only with other grocery stores, I am inclined to partly credit the energy of the increased number of farmers market outlets for fresh produce for one of the reasons for this.
Or, it may be that the chain feels that they can reduce their costs by reducing their waste in produce (reducing spoilage is an area that stores should always be working on to increase profits) or (sigh) maybe the chain feels it can ask for lower prices from farmers/producers more easily than companies from whom they buy value-added products.

I’d love to hear others thoughts on this news and how they think it affects farmers markets and other direct marketing outlets.

Forget ‘Whole Paycheck’—This Grocery Chain Now Beats Many Competitors’ Prices | TakePart” target=”_blank”>Whole Foods Story

Harvest of Change

An engaging interactive story on today’s agribusiness sector from the Des Moines Register and USA Today.

Amid all the challenges, farmers find lucrative markets shaped by shifting consumer tastes. Farmers markets, where consumers can interact directly with the growers of their food, expanded steadily in the USA from 1994 to 2014, almost quintupling to 8,268, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In 2012, fresh fruits and vegetables sold directly to consumers were a $1.3 billion industry, up 8% since 2007, the census found. That same year, organic food sales reached about $27 billion, according to the USDA, up from $11 billion in 2004.

link to the 5-part story in The Register

Harvest of Change.

Designlines judges food cart design at The Stop’s Night Market

Toronto: More than a charitable event for gourmands, the Night Market is a true mesh of the design and food communities: each of the chef’s carts is crafted from upcycled materials by a mix of established and burgeoning designers. So impressive are these carts that The Stop invited Designlines to judge them for design excellence, creativity and effective representation of The Stop’s mission.

Pumped

Lemon

Falco

HokPinata

Deconstruct

BikeSauce