Small-Scale Farmer Support Program:
Helping small-scale farmers improve their business.
Mountain Oak Farm
Mountain Oaks Farm grows and sells flowers and bulbs. Jamie Collard, owner of Mountain Oaks Farm has for years been cultivating and harvesting honey for personal use. Through the FMPP Program, Everyone’s Harvest was able to support the expansion of their honey making efforts to go commercial. In late Spring 2012, Everyone’s Harvest purchased 13 bee hives for their business. Honey is expected to come to the Pacific Grove Certified Farmers’ Market in the spring of 2013.
To run successful farmers’ markets, Everyone’s Harvest depends on the ongoing success of multiple farmers. Likewise, farmers’ prosperity depends on the markets. EH has been a leader in providing direct-to-consumer sales opportunities for beginning and immigrant farmers. Many of these farmers face language, cultural, and economic barriers that limit their long-term potential for business growth and stability. Yet they are key to a local food system that provides fresh nutritious food, minimizes agricultural impact on the land, and supports the local economy.
To assist these farmers with the challenges they face, Everyone’s Harvest has developed the Small-Scale Farmer Support Program. The program integrates technical assistance and education at the markets and farms, often with the services of accomplished farmers. Started in 2011, this program has worked closely with four farmers to expand their businesses, bringing 12 new products to market. A recent program focus is providing farmers with training in customer service and offering a more interactive market experience, as well as other guidance to increase their business success, such as the production of value-added foods. The goal is to increase farmers’ ability to provide a satisfying and informative customer experience including more diversity of foods and attractive displays. In turn, this program has already significantly increased farmers’ revenue. EH has also supported our small farmers by starting new markets and by increasing current markets’ customer base through promotions.
This work is important because the skill of producing healthy food is declining as farmers make up less than 1% of the US population, following a steady decline for hundreds of years. In the 1920’s, 31% of the US population were farmers and in 1790, 90%. Today, on average, small-scale farmers get only a small fraction of the consumer food dollar when selling wholesale, often through grocery stores. Today a new generation of beginning and immigrant farmers rely on farmers’ markets and are proud to serve communities in need of organic fresh fruits and vegetables. With the flourishing of small-scale farmers’ businesses, a diversity of communities can enjoy increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, essential to health.
Partners for this program are Agricultural Based Land Association, and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. This work is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Farmers’ Market Promotion Program.
Chia Her Farm grows specialty Asian greens following traditions from home in Laos. Many Marina Certified Farmers’ Market customers love Mr. and Mrs. Chia’s bittermelon, okra, yam, and sweet pea leaves. The leaves come in huge bundles, providing plenty of greens to cook up and eat. Unfortunately, these specialty leaves can’t be grown year-round in the Central Valley where Mr. and Mrs. Chia farm. Through the FMPP Program, Everyone’s Harvest was able to purchase a hoop house for Chia Her Farm so they could grow these specialty greens in the winter. By purchasing a hoop house, Chia Her will now have an additional space to farm during the winter. This will allow them to produce an additional 2000 pounds of bittermelons, okra, yams, or sweet pea leaves. Also, Everyone’s Harvest was able to purchase a new six-row seeder that will cut their time spent sowing seeds in the field from a few days to a few hours.