[Market-farming] Grower's Association?

Robin Follette list at seasonseatingsfarm.com
Wed Mar 9 13:28:25 EST 2011

We have Washington County Food Alliance. This is a list of what we've accomplished in the past year.

A soil scientist visited three farms. Everyone was invited to each farm. It was hugely helpful.

Bulk orders were placed with Fedco OGS, Lancaster Agriculture and for organic fertilizer. 

Several members went to the Hall of Flags. One of the issues discussed with lawmakers is the bottle deposit problem small bottlers are up against. As a direct result of WCFA's presence at the Hall of Flags, this problem is being worked on. (Two of our members have a value-added product that is bottled. Maine has a bottle redemption law.)  http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_125th/billtexts/HP0... 

We had a hoop bending day at a member's farm. We used the hoop benders from Johnny's and bent hundreds of hoops. We purchased Agribon by the rolls and cut it to specific lengths for people who pre-ordered.

We hired a consultant to present an organizational retreat. That helped us get focused and going in the right direction.

A member has been on the radio to talk about WCFA and what we're doing. We are open to new members.

We have a website for the public and a Google Group for communication. 

We're not a legal entity. It hasn't been necessary so far. Our finances (we started with a grant) are run through Soil & Water Conservation. 

NRCS was given a grant on our behalf for professional soil testing equipment. We're having two training sessions next month. After training, the equipment will make its rounds to members' farms. I'll be presenting our results at a soil conference. Members will be keeping a data sheet and journal so that NRCS can fulfill its obligations for the grant.

If we're doing something we know others can learn from we invite them out. We had 11 people out to learn how to cover a high tunnel last fall. We did it in 90 minutes, time to explain things included. It was hands on. People who had never seen wiggle wire were able to use it. 

I'm sure I've forgotten something but that's a good idea of what a small group of people can accomplish when they work well together. It has been worth the effort.


Robin Follette
Seasons Eatings Farm  (http://seasonseatingsfarm.wordpress.com)
   Talmadge ME

From: Leslie Moyer 
Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2011 1:08 AM
To: Market Farming ; Farmers Market Coalition Listserv 
Subject: [Market-farming] Grower's Association?

Some growers in my area (including me) are interested in forming a grower's association and have scheduled a meeting to discuss this with other area growers.  In some areas, a farmers market might fulfill some of the roles we envision for such a grower's association, but not all of the roles.  In our area, the farmers market is ineffectual at best; counter-productive in some cases, and, at the moment, it doesn't look that that is going to change for a while.  We see this as encompassing more than any single farmers market anyway--at least in our rural area. 

Some of the possibilities we have talked about for this grower's association include: a buyer's coop, a communication network (email list and/or website), educational workshops, farm tours, cooperative selling (including institutional sales), integrated growing strategies, increasing the number and variety of sales outlets (including extending the season of existing outlets), operation of retail outlet(s), sharing capital resources (such as land, equipment, processing facilities, etc.), buyer education, and more.  I know there are organizations out there in other places doing some of these things.  Can anyone point me toward other models we might look to as we go about structuring this group and figuring out its mission, purpose, and goals?   



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