Increasing Farmer Success in Local Food Markets in the Deep South: Mississippi & Alabama
Working to build local food markets and the capacity of local farmers and farmer groups in Mississippi and Alabama
Wholesale Success Workshops Announced
The Wallace Center is pleased to announce a partnership with FamilyFarmed.org to present four Wholesale Success workshops that will take place in Alabama and Mississippi in February and March. The workshops will present information on postharvest handling and food safety for fruit and vegetable growers.Participants will receive a free copy of FamilyFarmed.org’s Wholesale Success Manual, Wholesale Success: A Farmer’s Guide to Food Safety, Selling, Postharvest Handling, and Packing Produce.
MEET THE BUYERS EVENT
Wallace Center co-hosts a Meet the Buyers event with Belle Foods
On January 11, The Wallace Center co-hosted a Meet the Buyers event with Belle Foods at their headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. The event was part of the Wallace Center’s Increasing Farmer Success in the Deep South: Mississippi and Alabama project, which aims to create market opportunities for limited resource and historically disadvantages fruit and vegetable farmers.
The day-long event kicked off Belle Foods’ “Family Farm Initiative,” an effort to support and buy from local and family-owned farms. Category managers from Belle Foods spoke with 140 Mississippi and Alabama farmers, farmer groups and food aggregators about buying requirements and various sales opportunities.
Lou Malaponti, director of produce and floral operations at Belle Foods, said he was extremely pleased with the turnout and found the meeting to be an important step toward establishing the initiative: “[The meeting] was everything I hoped it would be and more. It’s a big deal for the South, and it’s a big deal for local growers trying to find ways to sell their products. I’m just excited to be part of it. It’s going to be huge for the company and huge for the customers.”
Two weeks after the event, Mr. Malaponti says he is still receiving calls on a daily basis from farmers who attended. He has already met with 6 of the attendees and is in contact with about two dozen more. He is looking forward to working out all of the logistics so the Belle Foods Family Farm Initiative can take off. Mr. Malaponti is currently purchasing local produce from two of Wallace Center’s grantees who aggregate produce from many Southern farmers. These types of market connections have good potential to significantly strengthen the local food system in the Deep South benefiting multitudes of small to mid-sized family farms, including limited resource farmers.
The Wallace Center is pleased to release the report and assessment of the Good Natured Family Farms Group Good Agricultural Practices pilot project.
Recently, produce buyers, including retail, food service, and government agencies, have increasingly demanded demonstration of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) from growers, which can create significant obstacles for small and mid-range operations. The “group approach” strategy emerged to address market requirements for third party GAP verification, and in 2010, USDA solicited the partnership of Good Natured Family Farms to convert its individual farm GAP program to the group approach. The pilot project has so far proven that this sort of system is feasible, and it is now the goal of the program to develop a credible group certification system that will make it attractive to all members of the produce supply chain, from farmers to aggregators and distributors to retail and food service buyers.
Read the report here: Good Natured Family Farms Group GAP pilot project
DEEP SOUTH GRANTEES ANNOUNCED
The Wallace Center is pleased to announce the grantees selected under the Increasing Farmer Success in Local Food Markets in the Deep South: Mississippi and Alabama program, made possible with funding from the Walmart Foundation. The program is working to strengthen the capacities of limited resource and/or historically disadvantaged farmers, farmer groups, and supporting organizations to meet the fresh produce supply needs of local and regional wholesale markets, and to facilitate farmers’ success in accessing new markets by further developing supply chain relationships. The grants are part of a wider $1 million program in Alabama and Mississippi that delivers tailored technical assistance and capacity building for farmers; strengthens regional partnerships; and develops and supports a Southern regional learning network focused on sustainable agriculture.
New North Florida Cooperative will develop farm-to-school markets for historically disadvantaged farmers in Mississippi’s Holmes and Attala Counties. The project will establish a mobile processing unit; train farmers in crop production, management, food safety and other topics; and distribute fresh, processed produce from 40+ farmers to local school districts.
Glyen Holmes and a farmer from New North Florida Cooperative discuss operations in MS
United Christian Community Association will work across Alabama and Mississippi to map area markets and local food aggregators to link farmers and buyers; develop 15 demonstration farms; provide farmers with training and technical assistance; and establish a revolving loan fund for farmers to develop on-farm infrastructure.
Tuskegee University will develop a new marketing cooperative for 50+farmers, and will install cold storage facilities for farmers to aggregate fresh produce in three counties in Alabama, increasing their market opportunities in the region.
Food Bank of North Alabama will connect limited resource and historically disadvantaged farmers to markets through the work of a local food broker; link these farmers to credit, training, and mentoring opportunities; and engage a multi-stakeholder working group to conduct a feasibility study/business plan for utilizing the food bank as a potential food hub.
Combined the projects will build the capacity of 300+ limited resource and historically disadvantaged farmers in the Deep South, a group that has historically been on the decline, to engage in wholesale markets and to increase farmers income. Grants range from $50,000 to $75,000 and will be made over a 12-month period. Technical assistance and capacity building assistance will also be available to grantees.
VALUE CHAIN REPORT RELEASED
The Wallace Center is pleased to release its latest report, "Increasing Farmer Success in Local Food Markets in the Deep South: Mississippi & Alabama: Challenges & Opportunities in the Fruit & Vegetable Market." The report explores on-farm, market and infrastructure barriers that small farmers face in accessing markets for fresh, local produce in the Deep South, and shares pragmatic interventions and insights that can shape the success of developing local food systems in the region.
Download the Mississippi-Alabama Local Food System map
MS-AL Local Food System Map
About the Increasing Farmer Success Program
The program, supported by a grant from the Walmart Foundation, is working to strengthen capacities of limited resource and/or historically disadvantaged farmers, farmer groups, and supporting organizations to meet the fresh produce supply needs of local and regional wholesale markets and to facilitate farmers' success in accessing new markets by further developing supply chain relationships.
The Wallace Center supports 4 grant projects that serve as pilot initiatives to demonstrate successful value chain models that can be replicated with future programs. Grantees engage with farmers and buyers; build capacity; develop or expand the production of fruits and/or vegetables; facilitate the sale of those products into identified markets; and chart a course for sustainability of the project.
The purpose of this program is to strengthen the ability of Mississippi and Alabama farmers to meet the burgeoning demand for local, healthy, sustainably-produced food by addressing the barriers farmers face in engaging in supply chains that provide fruits and vegetables to local communities.
This program will address barriers farmers face in meeting demand from institutional and wholesale buyers, who in turn have the capacity to increase community access to healthy food. These barriers can include infrastructure and knowledge for production, aggregation, distribution, and food safety standards, among others. Through a value chain approach, the Wallace Center will seek to understand how the region can capitalize on its agricultural and region-specific knowledge and expertise as the basis for growth, while identifying gaps in local and regional food systems infrastructure and unique market opportunities to meet increasing demand for healthy food.
This program aims to strengthen the capacity of limited resource and historically disadvantaged farmers and farmer groups to meet the fresh produce supply needs of local/regional wholesale and institutional markets, institutions, and foodservice buyers; and to facilitate farmers' success in accessing new markets by developing supply chain relationships.
Guided by a market-based strategy, the Wallace Center's approach comprises four major activities:
1. A value chain analysis documenting strategic regions and farmer groups, and their strengths, constraints, needs, and opportunities.
2. Provision of tailored technical assistance, capacity building, and strengthening of regional partnerships.
3. A grant-making process that identifies and invests in innovative farmers, farmer groups, and local farmer support organizations.
4. Development and support of a Southern Regional learning network benefiting from and contributing to the Wallace Center's National Good Food Network.
Download the Project Overview.
Please email your questions to email@example.com. Please allow 24 hours for a reply.
This program is made possible with funding from