Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Missouri Farm to School Program

Getting Started in selling your products to Schools!

Some farmers, farmers’ markets and orchards have already started expanding their markets by growing and selling produce, fruit and other locally grown products to schools, hospitals, and other institutions. If you haven’t already started thinking about working with a farm to school or farm to table program, here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Market your wares. Food service directors can’t source from you and your farm if they don’t know what you have. Assess your farm and develop a marketing packet that tells your story, highlighting what you grow or raise, what your availability is like and how to best get in touch with you. Check out some terrific marketing resources from Michigan.

2. Start small. If you find a school or vendor who wants to source from your farm, try contracting to provide one or two items, first. This will give you the time to work out logistics, from contracts to delivery.

3. Look within your community. Farmers often already have connections with schools or vendors. When you find a school food service customer, it’s also a good idea to evaluate if you’re a good match. Check out our question sheet.

4. Get advice. Across the state, many farmers and vendors are already working with schools, universities and hospitals to create farm to school programs. You can find out what is working well for them and get feedback on your potential plan. Details on standards, grading, GAP certification and more are also available in our resources section.

• Missouri Farm to School has a revamped website!

• Looking to start a farm to school program in your community? Are you a farmer that wants to start selling to local schools? We recently completed our “how to get started” resource manual for Missouri Farm to School. Get started now by downloading the manual.

• We’ve also began a web project to connect schools to farmers called “Farm Fresh Connect”. The site is being built to help farmers create a profile of what they grow and where they’re located as well as a section for schools to list what product they are looking for. Think of it as E-Harmony for farmers and schools. Be on the watch for more details to come soon!

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