This week, Alliance communication coordinator Piero Taico joined two dozen farmers from across the state and region at the Routes to Farm two-day “Farmer-to-Farmer Marketing Intensive” at Angelic Organics Learning Center. The aim of the training was to help farmers find their niche and create a profitable marketing model to support the herculean effort of creating a more just and regenerative food culture.
Day one of training was an all day session with one of the 25 “World’s Most Influential Women in Food and Agriculture” (Food Tank), Charlotte Smith. Owner of 3 Cow Marketing, Smith took farmers from all different situations and explained how community building would help bring their farm from surviving to thriving.
In a world of 24-hour information overload, Charlotte laid out her methodology of finding your farm’s community, earning their trust, and continually building relationships. This close-knit community model is was brought Smith’s farm to continuous profitability and what has helped over 10,000 other farmers to become more successful and increase their viability.
Afterwards we travelled to Bushel & Peck (Beloit, WI), a model business that combines an organic farm, a market/cafe storefront, and a preservation kitchen. This diversification of profit earning has allowed Bushel & Peck to have a thriving business in their niche of all things preservation; pickles, jams, sauces, relishes, soups, and fermented foods.
Our second day of training we had discussions regarding such diversification tools available to farmers. Several sessions covered a myriad of topics; CSA’s, wholesale selling, food hubs, farmers markets, agritourism, on-farm stores, buyers clubs, and supplying restaurants and chefs.
As the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, the community we seek to build are the innovative farmers themselves. Spending time with, and discussing their needs and struggles helped clarify the need for our organization to keep this community thriving by providing more resources and avenues for them to connect with one another. A young farmer Ariel Zimmerlein, of AZ Farm & Wellness, said it best, “I need connection with farmers and activists who can help me along the way.”