Jul 30, 2012


Niche Marketing in Kansas Guide and
Workshop Due This Fall

  by Joanna Voight

This summer, KRC’s Our Local Food (OLF) Project is working on two projects aimed at introducing Kansas producers to niche marketing opportunities.  

Niche markets, such as farmers markets, CSAs, restaurants, institutions, grocery stores, food coops, and mail-order or internet sales, can help an established farmer or rancher diversify their existing operation and increase their customer base, or help a beginning producer find a sustainable market for their products.  

As part of the initiative to promote niche marketing in Kansas, KRC is planning a day-long strategic marketing workshop and farm tour for livestock producers.  

The workshop will bring together a team of experts who will provide information on successfully incor-porating niche marketing into an existing operation – from both a logistics and financial standpoint; developing a “brand” and utilizing effective marketing strategies; and understanding the regulations, financial risks, and appropriate liability coverage needed to direct market animal products in Kansas. 

The farm tour will provide attendees the opportunity to see a thriving niche market farm in action, as well as the chance to connect with other livestock producers and wholesale buyers.  The workshop and tour is scheduled for September 21 in the North Central/Concordia area. Look for more details later this summer.

OLF staff have also been busy creating “Finding Your Niche:  A Marketing Guide for Kansas Farmers” that will be the go-to guide for information on niche market farming for Kansas producers.

The guidebook, scheduled to be available in October, will include a series of tip sheets covering strategies and tools for: successfully getting started in, or transitioning to, niche market farming; how and where to market your products; processing, handling, and sales regulations that pertain to direct market farming; and links to resources for marketing vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, honey, and farm-raised fish.  The guidebook will be a terrific resource for beginning producers and experienced farmers, alike.  

Savor the Season Helps Promote Specialty Crops
by Tracey Graham
Kansans are enjoying the bounty of basil, beans, beets and bell peppers currently available at their farmers markets.  These summer crops and 21 more are featured in the Savor The Season program.  KRC staff has worked to develop the program, which is funded through a USDA Specialty Crop Grant via the Kansas Department of Agriculture to KRC.

Forty farmers markets across the state are participating in the program by displaying banners and distributing materials that encourage shoppers to enjoy seasonal foods when they are at their peak of ripeness, flavor and quality. Savor The Season provides recipe cards featuring Spring crops (arugula, bok choy, lettuce, napa cabbage, rhubarb, salad mix, snow peas, spinach and swiss chard), Summer crops (basil, beans, beets, bell peppers, cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, heirloom tomatoes, okra, and onions) and Autumn crops (acorn squash, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, sweet potato, turnip).   Each card includes tips on how to select, store and prepare the crops, and provides a tasty recipe.  Additional recipes for these featured crops and many others are available on the ksfarmersmarkets.org website. 

Also available is the Savor The Season “Food Safety Ends With You” card, which offers tips on how to keep the fresh fruits and vegetables our farmers work hard to grow safe from contamination.

In addition, Savor The Season is providing 16 farmers markets with minigrant or cost-share funding to help promote specialty crops in their area.  This funding is being used in a variety of creative ways to bring special events to markets throughout this year’s growing season.  Many of the events are posted on http://www.facebook.com/SavorTheSeason. 

Folks looking for a new idea for cantaloupe, wanting to learn why heirloom tomatoes are such a big deal, or who are interested in preparing okra without getting slimed, can pick up the cards at farmers markets in:  Abilene, Allen County, Ark City, Atchison, Basehor, Clay Center, Clyde, Manhattan (Downtown), Emporia, Florence, Fort Scott (R and B Produce), Glasco, Goodland, Hanover, Haysville, Independence, Kansas City (KCK Greenmarkets @ Catholic Charities, Juniper Gardens &Strawberry Hill; Rosedale), Larned, Lawrence (Cottin’s Hardware, Downtown), Leavenworth, Lyndon, Marysville, Medicine River, Oberlin, Paola, Perry Lecompton, Reno County, Spring Hill, Topeka (Capitol Midweek, Monday Market at Your Library), Walnut Valley, Washington, and Wichita (Delano Community, Kansas Grown!, Normandie Center, Old Town). 

For more information on the Savor the Season program contact Tracey Graham at twinrivers.olf@gmail.com or call 620-343-4397.

Mobile Food Prep Unit Helps Garnett Farmers Market Promote Products
by Tom King

When Rosanna Bauman sees a problem, she seeks a solution, even if it means trying something new. 

As the manager of the Garnett Farmers Market, Bauman recognizes the importance  of offering samples to market customers. But certain types of produce, such as cut melons and cut tomatoes, are deemed potentially hazardous by the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA), requiring special precautions for regular public service. Currently, the KDA allows a vendor to provide samples of produce to the public only six times per year. 

Offering samples on a regular basis requires a KDHE-certified kitchen or mobile food unit, models which were unsuited to the needs and budgets of the Garnett Farmers Market Association (GFMA) members. 

"Typically, our members sample their produce at the Farmers Market or serve concessions at U-Pick pumpkin and strawberry patches, so they didn’t need an elaborate food truck and they certainly didn’t need the attached expense," Bauman says. "It wasn't financially feasible for members to individually get a mobile food vendor license through the KDA."

But Bauman had a plan. In collaboration with the KDA, she designed a Mobile Food Prep Unit (MFPU)--actually a former camper frame converted to a trailer--for the exclusive use of GFMA members.

Members rent the unit for fundraising dinners, and market and U-Pick events. The trailer contains a large preparation  counter, a three-compartment sink and a hand wash sink. 

"Many venues may not have electricity, and hot water is needed for proper hygiene and washing of utensils," says Bauman. Batteries in the trailer supply hot water under pressure and a tank underneath holds gray water. A storage area in the front of the trailer holds tables and tents available for rent to GFMA members.
Renters provide their own equipment for cooking (grills, roasters, slow cookers), and their own tools and coolers. No leftovers are allowed to be saved for reheating, which eliminates a major safety concern.     

"Since the GFMA operates as a unit, food safety training is essential," says Bauman. The Bauman family operates ANCO Poultry Processing in rural Garnett, a USDA-certified poultry processing facility. Bauman's knowledge of food safety and her training in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a boon to GFMA members. She personally trains each member in proper washing techniques, food storage and handling procedures, and safe cooking methods.  

The cleaning and maintenance of the Mobile Food Prep unit are communal operations. Bauman posts Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) for hygiene and hand washing, as well as maintaining a sanitary checklist to be completed at the end of each serving day. "Our members hold themselves to a higher standard in regard to food safety because they know other members are counting on them, " she says.  “I’m confident we have the food safety angle  covered." 

Glacial Hills RC& D Hosts Local Food Bus Tour 
May 23 in NE Kansas


Glacial Hills RC&D sponsored a Local Food Bus Tour on May 23  that  highlighted specialty crop production and local producers, processing and merchandising.  Ten stops from Hiawatha (Brown County) to Washington county included hoophouses, market gardens, local shops, and a farmers market. 

Featured businesses included:  Hearthside Country Store, Sabetha; Granite Road Greenhouses, Beatty; Frankfort meat processing locker (now certified for organic processing); Elsie Grace's, Frankfort; Winslow's Gardens, Frankfort; Wellness Weaver's, Waterville; Laflen Gardens, Greenleaf; David Coltrain/ Coltrain Produce, Palmer; MarCon Pies, Washington; Hanover Farmers Market. 

A "virtual" photo version of the tour can be viewed at: http://www.kawrivervalley.org and scroll down to the tour.  Photos by Cole Cottin.


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