Tag Archive: Farm

Farm Food Safety Certification Training – February 13

A Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training is scheduled for Monday, February 13 at the Jackson County Extension Office in Marianna, FL.  The PSA Grower Training curriculum is approved by the FDA to meet the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

Who Should Attend? – Fruit and vegetable growers with farms that have an annual value of produce sold (based on a three year average) of $ 25,000 (adjusted for inflation) or more.

Benefits to Attending – The course will cover the requirements of the FSMA produce safety rule.  It will also cover key Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that are necessary in a farm food safety plan.

Cost to Attend – The fee for the training is $ 150.  For attendees who are members of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA), a discounted rate of $ 99 is available.  (Not sure if you’re a member?  Contact Sonia Tighe at 321-214-5245 or sonia.tighe@ffva.com).  Registration fee includes the training materials, lunch, refreshments, and a Certificate of Course Attendance that complies with the training requirements of FSMA.

Registration

Registration Deadline is February 6, 2017

PSA TRAINING AGENDA

  • 8:30 Registration and Refreshments
  • 9:00 Welcome and Introductions
  • 9:15 Module 1: Introduction to Produce Safety
  • 10:00 Module 2: Worker Health, Hygiene, and Training
  • 11:00 Break
  • 11:15 Module 3: Soil Amendments
  • 12:00 Module 4: Wildlife, Domesticated Animals, and Land Use
  • 12:45 Lunch
  • 1:30 Module 5: Agricultural Water Part 1: Production Water
  • 2:15 Part 2: Postharvest Water
  • 3:15 Break
  • 3:30 Module 6: Postharvest Handling and Sanitation
  • 4:30 Module 7: How to Develop a Farm Food Safety Plan
  • 5:00 Final Questions and Evaluations

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Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/07/farm-food-safety-certification-training-february-13/

2016 NASS Farm Land Rent and Labor Survey Summary

2016 NASS Farm Land Rent and Labor Survey Summary

Some of the most challenging conversations, in almost any relationship, are the ones about money.  This is certainly true as land owners and farmers, or managers and laborers negotiate for the year ahead. It can be pretty challenging to determine what is a fair price to rent a specific farm, or to set the wages for the skill sets of a specific employee, but, if you know the average rate, it does provide an unbiased place to start negotiations.  As with all statistics, just knowing the average is only part of the story, but at least it offers a reference point for both parties to begin the conversation.

Farm Land Rental Rates

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) no longer provides annual summaries of land rental rates by county, but does compile a report on even years.  Unfortunately their survey summary does not offer the range of rates paid, but does offer county, regional, or state averages that provide an unbiased place to begin negotiations. There are a number of factors that influence the rental value of farm land.  Certainly farm size, crop history, soil type, and location influence lease rates.  A large, 300 acre field would be more attractive to rent than 15 acres, or a farm next door more valuable than an operation 10 miles away.  The amount of Farm Bill Base Acreage on the land also plays a role in setting the value of crop land rental rates.

The following is a summary of the information NASS provides on average land rental rates.  Table 1 provides the average rate for renting non-irrigated, or dryland crop land by county.  The average for the whole Panhandle region in 2016 was $ 64.50 per acre. There was certainly variation from county to county, with a high of $ 92.50/acre in Santa Rosa to a low $ 41/acre in Holmes County.

Table 1. Average Dryland crop rental rates reported by USDA NASS.

Since there are not as many irrigated farms, NASS reports their survey results by region, instead of by county.  Irrigated crop land is generally more productive and certainly more consistent, so the lease rates are generally much higher per acre. Table 2 shows the variation in irrigated farm lease rates in the tri-states region, with an average of $ 180/acre for the Southeast.

Table 2. Average irrigated crop land rental rates reported by USDA NASS.

Pasture rental rates were also surveyed.  Pasture lease rates are considerably lower than crop land, because livestock generate a much lower return per acre.  Table 3 illustrates the range of average pasture rent from $ 23.50/acre in Walton County to $ 40/acre in Escambia County.  The average pasture rent for the entire Panhandle was $ 34.50/acre in 2016.

Table 3 Average pasture rental rates reported by USDA NASS.

Farm Labor Wages

The other challenge that farmers and ranchers face is knowing what is a fair rate to pay their hired labor.  NASS only reports farm workers in general categories, so the averages provided in Table 4 may not fit specialized categories of workers.  NASS does not provide a regional or by county hired worker wage report, so this information came from across the state of Florida.

Table 4 Florida average farm worker wages reported by USDA NASS.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Services offers a wide range of additional information based on annual surveys and the Ag Census every five years.  To look at the information provided in this article, and other information from their surveys go to:  http://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/

 

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Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.
http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/07/2016-nass-farm-land-rent-and-labor-survey-summary/

Things You Should Know About Farm Food Safety

Things You Should Know About Farm Food Safety

It seems like years ago that the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law, but it was actually 2011.  With a new congress convening this week, and the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump on January 20th, the outlook for FSMA is unpredictable.  Whatever the future may hold, there are a number of important food safety compliance facts you should know.

Exempt/Excluded Status

Depending on the size of your farm, what you grow, or your clientele, you may be exempt or excluded from FSMA.  Whatever your status may be, it is important that you understand food safety protocol and that you proactively and reactively reduce food safety risks on your farm.

  • Farms that have an annual value of produce sold of $ 25,000 (based on a three year average, adjusted for inflation) or less are not covered by the regulation.
  • The farm must have food sales less than $ 500,000 per year (based on a three year average, adjusted for inflation) AND the farm’s direct sales to qualified end-users must exceed sales to all buyers combined during the previous three years. (A qualified end-user is either the consumer of the food or a restaurant or retail food establishment that is located in the same state or the same Indian reservation as the farm or not more than 275 miles away.)
  • Produce Not Covered by the Regulation
    • Produce commodities that FDA has identified as rarely consumed raw: asparagus; black beans, great Northern beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, and pinto beans; garden beets (roots and tops) and sugar beets; cashews; sour cherries; chickpeas; cocoa beans; coffee beans; collards; sweet corn; cranberries; dates; dill (seeds and weed); eggplants; figs; ginger; hazelnuts; horseradish; lentils; okra; peanuts; pecans; peppermint; potatoes; pumpkins; winter squash; sweet potatoes; and water chestnuts.
    • Produce that is used for personal or on-farm consumption.
    • Produce that is not a raw agricultural commodity.  (A raw agricultural commodity is any food in its raw or natural state.)
  • A farm with the qualified exemption must still meet certain modified requirements, including prominently and conspicuously displaying the name and the complete business address of the farm where the produce was grown either on the label of the produce or at the point of purchase.

Compliance Deadlines

Required compliance dates are set based on farm size – the larger the farm, the sooner it will need to be in compliance.

  • Very small businesses, defined as greater than $ 25,000 but less than $ 250,000 in average annual (previous three year period) produce sales, will need to comply with the regulation within four years.
  • Small businesses, defined as greater than $ 250,000 but less than $ 500,000 in average annual (previous three year period) produce sales, will need to comply with the regulation within three years.
  • All other businesses, defined as greater than $ 500,000 in average annual (previous three year period) produce sales, will need to comply with the regulation within two years of the effective date.
  • Compliance dates for farms eligible for qualified exemptions are:
    • Labeling requirements (if applicable): January 1, 2020
    • Retention of records supporting eligibility for a qualified exemption: Effective date of final rule (January 26, 2016)
    • For all other modified requirements for farms growing covered produce other than sprouts: Very small businesses—4 years, Small businesses—3 years

Note:  The compliance dates for certain aspects of the agricultural water requirements allow an additional two years beyond each of these compliance dates.

Washing lettuce. Photo Credit: Cornell University Extension

Employee Training

Regardless of whether your farm has implemented a food safety plan or not, the FDA requires approved training under the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.

  • At least one supervisor or responsible party from a farm subject to the FSMA Produce Safety Rule must have successfully completed food safety training, at least equivalent to the standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the FDA.
  • All workers that handle or contact covered produce or supervise workers must be trained based on FSMA standards.  Everyone working on the farm should receive annual instruction on how to accomplish his/her job.  Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) should be developed to provide clear step-by-step instructions for how workers should complete their daily tasks.
  • Visitors to the farm must be made aware of food safety policies set by the farm, and visitors must have access to toilet and handwashing facilities.

To read more on FSMA, please visit The Food Safety Modernization Act and the FDA Facility Registration Program.

An approved Food Safety Training is scheduled for February 13 in Marianna at the Jackson County Extension Office.  For more information, and to register for the training, please visit:

Farm Food Safety Certification Training – February 13

 

 

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Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/06/things-you-should-know-about-farm-food-safety/

Enrollment Open for 2017 ARC & PLC USDA Farm Bill Programs

Enrollment Open for 2017 ARC & PLC USDA Farm Bill Programs

FSA HeaderU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini has announced that producers on farms with base acres under the safety net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill, known as the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, can begin visiting FSA county offices to sign contracts and enroll for the 2017 crop year. The enrollment period will continue until August 1, 2017.

“FSA issued more than $ 7 billion in payments in October 2016 under the ARC-County and PLC programs for the 2015 crop to assist enrolled producers who suffered a loss of price or revenue or both,” said Dolcini. “Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year, producers on the farm must enroll by signing a contract each program year. I encourage you to contact your local FSA office today to schedule an appointment to enroll.”

If a farm is not enrolled during the 2017 enrollment period, the producers on that farm will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2017 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who made their elections in 2015 must still enroll during the 2017 enrollment period.

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. For more details regarding these programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.

For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local FSA office. To find a local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

 

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Author: admin – webmaster@ifas.ufl.edu

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Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/12/03/enrollment-open-for-2017-arc-plc-usda-farm-bill-programs/

Jackson County Farm City Festival November 18 & 19

Jackson County Farm City Festival November 18 & 19

Farm City Week is celebrated all across America the week before Thanksgiving.  In Jackson County, the Chamber of Commerce, Farm Bureau, Cattlemen’s Association, UF/IFAS Extension Service, and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida have teamed up once again to host the Farm City Festival November 18-19 in Marianna.  The Festival will feature two days of activities designed to honor the heritage and bounty of Jackson County agriculture.

Farm-City Awards Breakfast – Friday 7:00 to 9:00 AM

The Farm City Festival will begin with a breakfast at Rivertown Community Church in Marianna (4534 Lafayette Street aka. Hwy 90).  Farm Credit of Northwest Florida sponsors the breakfast that is provided at no charge to the public.  Participants are encouraged, however, to make donations of peanut butter for the Peanut Butter Challenge.  Registration and the serving of breakfast will begin at 6:30 AM, and the program will begin at 7:00 AM. There will be presentations from local 4-H clubs and FFA chapters, along with recognition of the Outstanding Farm Family, Peanut, Cotton, Corn, Tree, Hay, and Specialty Crop Farmers of the Year, as well as the Conservationist, and Cattleman of the Year.  Farm Bureau will also be recognizing farms through the “This Farm C.A.R.E.S.” program.

2015 Jackson County Farm City Breakfast

2015 Jackson County Farm City Festival – Awards Breakfast.  Photo: Doug Mayo

Antique Tractor Drive – Friday 10:00 AM & 2:00 PM

Antique tractors will be offloaded at the Jackson County Agriculture Center, 3631 Highway 90 West, Marianna, Florida.  Registration will begin at 9:00 AM Central time, tractor lineup at 9:30, with the actual Tractor Drive leaving at 10:00 AM.  The first leg of the drive will be to travel 6.1 miles east to the Marianna Farmer’s Market.  Drivers will create a static display at the Marianna Farmer’s Market from 11:00 – 1:30.  At 2:00 PM the antique tractors will begin the return leg of their drive back to the Agriculture Center.

2015 Jackson County Farm City Festival - Antique Tractor Drive through Mariannna

2015 Jackson County Farm City Festival – Antique Tractor Drive through Marianna.  Photo: Doug Mayo

Farms, antique tractor collectors, 4-H clubs, FFA Chapters, and civic organizations are encouraged to participate in the drive.  Tractors must be 1986 or older models.  Wagons with club members can be pulled behind the tractors, but must have an adult chaperone in the wagon with youth, and an adult tractor driver.  Tractor drive participants are not required to participate in the tractor pull competition.

Antique tractors on display at the Marianna Farmer's Market following the drive. Photo: Doug Mayo

Antique tractors on display at the Marianna Farmer’s Market following the drive. Photo: Doug Mayo

Lawn Mower Pull – Friday 6:00 PM

There will be a hot-rod lawn mower pull on Friday night starting at 6:00 PM, following the tractor drive, at the Jackson County Agriculture Center.

2015 Jackson County Farm City Festival - Lawn Mower Pull

2015 Jackson County Farm City Festival – Lawn Mower Pull Photo: Doug Mayo

Antique Tractor Pull & Agricultural Festival – Saturday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Antique tractors will compete by pulling a sled, based on tractor weight classes.  Tractor pull participants must be registered by 8:30 AM central time; a driver’s meeting will be held at 8:45, with Opening Ceremonies taking place at 9:00.  The hooking fee is $ 10 per pull.  Trophies will be presented to the top three finishers in each class. Camp sites are available for Tractor Pull participants at the Ag Center for $ 20 per night.

2015 Jackson County Farm City Festival - Antique Tractor Pull. Photo: Doug Mayo

2015 Jackson County Farm City Festival – Antique Tractor Pull. Photo: Doug Mayo

30 food and craft vendors will be on hand selling their creations.  There will be multiple vendors with things for kids to do:  an inflatable bounce house, slide, and bucking bull, along with a pony ride, and a barrel train.  There will also be heritage and agricultural demonstrations:  a blacksmith, Chipola Beekeepers, Jackson County Cattlemen’s association, and Florida Dairy Farmers.  All will be on the Ag Center grounds in the vicinity of the tractor pull, so this will be a fun event for the whole family.  This is a sponsored event, so admission is free.

2015 Jackson County Farm City Festival - Heritage Demonstrations. Photo: Doug Mayo

2015 Jackson County Farm City Festival – Heritage Demonstrations. Photo: Doug Mayo

2015 Jackson County Farm City Festival - Agriculture Demonstrations. Photo: Doug Mayo

2015 Jackson County Farm City Festival – Agriculture Demonstrations. Photo: Doug Mayo

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Check out the highlights from last year’s Farm City Festival

For more information about all of the 2016 Farm City Festival events, contact the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce:  850-482-8060.

 

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Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-news – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.
http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/11/jackson-county-farm-city-festival-november-18-19/

Davy and Strange Families Honored as Santa Rosa Farm Families of the Year

Davy and Strange Families Honored as Santa Rosa Farm Families of the Year

Glen and Janet Strange and John and Sara Davy accept 2016 Santa Rosa County Farm Families Award from County Commissioner Don Salter

Glen and Janet Strange and John and Sara Davy accept 2016 Santa Rosa County Farm Families Awards from County Commissioner Don Salter

On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, the John Davy and Glen Strange families of Panhandle Growers, Inc. were honored as the 2016 Santa Rosa County Farm Families of the Year during the 50th Annual Santa Rosa County Farm Tour. The daylong tour stopped at Panhandle Growers where John and Glen and their wives received the award from Santa Rosa County Commissioner Don Salter, along with citations from state and U.S. Congressional representatives. The purpose of the award is to annually recognize outstanding farm families in the county who exhibit innovation, creativity, environmental stewardship, service to agriculture, and are active in their local community.

Panhandle Growers, Inc. wholesale nursery was established in 1987 by partners John Davy and Glen Strange in the Allentown Community. Beginning with twenty acres of in-ground production, their objective was to supply the central Gulf Coast with quality 2” – 4” caliper (trunk diameter) specimen trees. From this humble beginning they have grown to 350 acres of field production, remaining focused on producing quality landscaping trees. With their increase in production, they are now capable of supplying business needs throughout the Southeast.

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John Davy and Glen Strange Families, 2016 Santa Rosa County Farm Families of the Year

John’s interest, besides managing production at the nursery, is in the selection and development of new plants for production and introduction into the trade. Many of the plant varieties in production at the nursery are from selections John has made out of their seedling stock, or from seedlings grown for the sole purpose of developing new varieties. His current focus is in the development of understory trees for the Gulf Coast region.

John’s wife Sara is a pharmacist. The couple have two children, Elizabeth and Emmett. Elizabeth graduated from Auburn University in 2015. Emmett, 16, is a junior at Pace High School.

The Davies are active members of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola and are parent volunteers with World Race (Adventures in Missions). John has been very active in the Pensacola Camellia Society, serving three terms as president.

Glen is Panhandle Growers’ business manager. Like his father before him, Glen’s career began with Bellsouth and transitioned to a second career in farming.

Glen and his wife Janet have two daughters and a son: Ali Ohler, Nicole, and Thomas. Ali and husband Ben Ohler have two children, Bram, age 5 and Bayne, 18 months. Nicole is a senior at Troy University School of Nursing, and Thomas is a sophomore at Pensacola State School of Business.

The Stranges are active members of First Baptist Church of Pensacola where they participate in local and international missions, and Glen serves on the missions board. Glen is also a director with Farm Credit of Northwest Florida.

When asked about their future plans John says to “keep planting” and Glen shares “it is our hope that one day our children and grandchildren can carry on our family farming tradition in some way”.

The annual Santa Rosa Farm Family of the Year is selected by the Santa Rosa County Agricultural Committee comprised of a group agricultural industry and agency representatives.

 

 

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Author: Michael Donahoe – mcd@ufl.edu

Michael Donahoe is the County Extension Director in Santa Rosa County. His educational program focuses on agronomic crop production with primarly responsibilities in integrated pest management and cotton production.

Michael Donahoe

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/29/davy-and-strange-families-honored-as-santa-rosa-farm-families-of-the-year/

Florida’s Outstanding Tree Farm Tour October 14

Florida’s Outstanding Tree Farm Tour October 14

tree-farmer-headerFarm Tour – Friday, October 14, 2016 – Meet at the property at 9:00 AM ET

registers-2016-outstanding-tree-farmersCongratulations are in order to the Register Family for their outstanding forest stewardship and being selected as Florida’s Outstanding Tree Farm for 2016. The Alonzo and Eliza Register Family Partnership, Ltc. was formed in 1997 by Alonzo and Eliza Register, so their land and timber will continue to be enjoyed by the family for generations to come. The Partnership owns a total 1,139 acres of planted and naturally regenerated timberland in southeastern Leon County near the town of Woodville. The centerpiece of the timber operation is the natural longleaf stands that are managed on a natural regeneration system that incorporates frequent, but light, selection harvests in conjunction with frequent prescribed fire. Join us for a tour, lunch and awards ceremony on Friday, October 14, 2016 at their property. Learn about sustainable forest and wildlife habitat management and connect with the local and statewide professionals and resources that are available to assist in your land management. Most of the tour will involve riding in vans or open trailers with several discussion stops and a short walk or two. Please wear appropriate clothing, footwear, and bring rain gear in case of wet weather.

Register

This event is free, but pre-registration is required. Reserve a space by calling Whitney at the Florida Forestry Association, (850) 222-5646. Space will be limited and the registration deadline is October 10. Please share this announcement with others who may be interested.

Directions to Register Tree Farm

The property is located south of Tallahassee, FL near the town of Woodville.
  1. From Tallahassee take Woodville Hwy (SR 363) south to Woodville.
  2. From Woodville, take Natural Bridge Road east 2.0 miles to Register Farm Road.
  3. Turn south onto Register Farm Road and follow the signs to the parking area.

Download the printer friendly flyer with map and directions using the following link: 

Register Tree Farm – Florida’s 2016 Outstanding Tree Farm Tour

 

tree-farm-sponsors

Funding for this event is provided by the Florida Tree Farm Committee, USDA Forest Service through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Florida Forest Service, and the Florida Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee.

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Author: Molly Jameson – mjameson@ufl.edu

Molly Jameson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/07/floridas-outstanding-tree-farm-tour-october-14/

Hosting a Farm Tour is an Excellent Marketing Tool

Hosting a Farm Tour is an Excellent Marketing Tool

Hosting a farm tour is an excellent way to connect with customers. Photo by Molly Jameson.

Hosting a farm tour is an excellent way to connect with customers. Photo by Molly Jameson.

One excellent way to increase farm sales is to host a farm tour. In 2013 the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 1106, protecting farmers and ranchers from liability as long as activities are directly related to agriculture. This has opened up many opportunities for Florida farmers and has given citizens access to local farms where they can explore and meet the farmers where they work every day. Farm tours give the public the opportunity to not only see where their products originated, but also how they were produced and what farming techniques are actually used. This can help strengthen the relationships you have with customers, help you reach new customers, and make your farm stand out and be remembered.

Discuss all aspects or your farming practices, including cold protection, irrigation, and soil management. Photo by Molly Jameson.

Discuss all aspects or your farming practices, including cold protection, irrigation, and soil management. Photo by Molly Jameson.

One important aspect of planning a farm tour involves marketing. How will you let potential visitors know about your tour? If an organization, farm, or other entity organizes a farm tour event in your area, definitely take advantage of the opportunity.  Often all you will need to do is complete an application providing a description of your farm and its amenities, and organizers will market the farm tour for you. If you live in an area without an established regional farm tour event, consider organizing one yourself or ask your local extension office for guidance and support. When advertising for your tour, include information on what visitors should bring, such as hats, sunscreen, water, and closed-toe shoes, as well as what not to bring, such as pets.

Once you have decided to host a farm tour, you then need to think about what you will discuss with your visitors. Remember that many people touring your farm may know very little about farming and will be interested in every aspect of your practices. Consider discussing your methods of fertilization, soil management, crop varieties, irrigation techniques, planting and harvesting schedule, equipment and tools used, and insect and disease management. Discuss with visitors what makes your farm unique, your experience as a farmer, where you sell your products, how you get your products to market, and your involvement within the community.

Hosting a farm tour is an excellent way to market your products. Photo by Molly Jameson.

Allow visitors to tour as many areas of the farm as possible. Photo by Molly Jameson.

On the tour, include as many areas of your farm as possible, including fields, pastures, barns, packing sheds, greenhouses – and even beehives and compost piles. Set up a farm stand to give customers the chance to buy your products on site. If possible, include hands-on activities and demonstrations as part of your farm tour, such as sample tastings, weed and pest identification, or a harvesting demonstration.

Remember to use signs to direct visitors to parking, restrooms, where the farm tour starts, and other important information. You may want to consider offering light refreshments and water for your visitors. Also give your visitors clear safety instructions before entering an area, and post a sign about agritourism liabilities, as detailed in Florida Senate Bill 1106. You can purchase these signs from the Florida Agritourism Association website.

When concluding a farm tour, make visitors aware of your website and encourage them to follow you on social media. It is also beneficial to ask your participants for feedback about what they liked and didn’t like about the tour, so you can make improvements for future tours. Finally, take the time to reflect on the success, and think about what you could change to make your next farm tour event even better!

For additional information on this topic, utilize the following UF/IFAS Publication links:

Planning for a Farm Tour: Keeping the Conversation Fresh

Expanding Florida’s Farming Business to Incorporate Tourism

Agritainment: A Viable Option for Florida Producers

 

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Author: Molly Jameson – mjameson@ufl.edu

Molly Jameson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/02/hosting-a-farm-tour-is-an-excellent-marketing-tool/

Gulf Coast Farm to Table Networking Event May 23

Gulf Coast Farm to Table Networking Event May 23

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If you are a food producer or buyer, we invite you to join us on May 23 from 1:00-4:00 for an afternoon of education and networking. We will discuss hot topics in local food, seasonal products and menuing, food safety, marketing, and more. This is a free event but we ask that you register so that we know you’re coming. Refreshments will be provided and you will leave with great information and giveaways. We look forward to seeing you there!

Buyer Topics:

  • Hot topics for local food
  • Building seasonal food menus
  • Purchasing & Delivery Considerations

Producer Topics:

  • Seasonal Products
  • Food Safety
  • Marketing Your Farm & Products

Where: Langley Bell 4-H Auditorium, 3730 Stefani Road, Cantonment, FL 32533

When: Monday, May 23, 1 – 4 pm

Register now: Gulf Coast Farm to Table Networking Event

Connect: Facebook Event Page

Printer Friendly Flyer

For more information, contact: cbwalmer@ufl.edu or 850-475-5230

 

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Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/05/07/gulf-coast-farm-to-table-networking-event-may-23/

Red Hills Small Farm Alliance Recognized by National Farm Credit for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Red Hills Small Farm Alliance Recognized by National Farm Credit for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Buy your plants through the Red Hills Online Market. Photo by Cassie Dillman.

Customers can buy plants through the Red Hills Online Market. Photo by Cassie Dillman.

Announced at the National Ag Day in Washington, D.C., the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance (RHSFA) became one of the Top 100 Honorees recognized by the National Farm Credit System for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives honorees include leaders and visionaries from across the country. The RHSFA was selected by a distinguished panel of agricultural industry representatives from a pool of 1,100 nominees. The farms and organizations highlighted through this program are creating the future of agriculture and rural America through their dedication and innovation.

RHSFA was formed by east Florida Panhandle farmers, Louise Divine of Turkey Hill Farm and Katie Harris of Full Earth Farm, in 2010 as a means to strengthen our small farm community and expand our local food market to more citizens within our region. The RHSFA allows farmers – who may otherwise only see one another as competitors – to work together, share insights and ideas, and mentor new farmers, as they promote local agriculture.

Red Hills Online Market sign. Photo by Cassie Dillman.

Red Hills Online Market sign. Photo by Cassie Dillman.

One of the innovative components of the RHSFA that contributed to this agricultural distinction is the Red Hills Online Market (RHO Market). The RHO Market, which opened in 2011, allows farmers and producers within 100 miles of Tallahassee to join the RHSFA and apply to list their products on the online platform. It also allows customers the convenience of ordering and paying for local produce online, with the ability to pick up their orders at one of several convenient locations each week or have them delivered directly to their doorsteps for a small fee.

The RHO Market gives local farmers the ability to harvest only what has been sold and the flexibility to deliver the produce to one distribution center, freeing them from hours at a traditional farmers’ market. Increasing efficiency for farmers and convenience for customers has allowed the RHO Market to grow 30 percent annually, with over 400 customers purchasing from 41 local farmers. In 2015, this earned RHSFA farmers $ 85,000.

Alliance Co-director Katie Harris, as quoted in the online description of the Farm Credit 100 Honorees, said, “I hope to achieve steady growth in the farming community, whether that be fostering new farmers or helping existing farms expand. I hope to do this through providing a reliable and innovative economic outlet for farmers that is convenient to both farmers and consumers alike.”

The RHSFA also offers educational opportunities, including the Seven Days of Local Delights. This is a week-long campaign event held annually, directly following the New Leaf Farm Tour, offering over 20 workshops about supporting, using, and growing local food.

Red Hills Online Market vegetable collage. Photo by Cassie Dillman.

Local vegetables. Photos by Cassie Dillman.

As the RHSFA and RHO Market expand, so does the appreciation for locally grown produce. This growth contributes to the ability of farmers to increase production, encourages new farmers to begin farming, and also connects people to the food they are consuming and to local agricultural production.

According to a Civic Economics Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, for every $ 100 that is spent at an independent business, $ 68 returns to the local economy. By comparison, only $ 43 returns to the local economy when spent at a national chain. This means that if every family spent $ 10 per month at locally owned businesses instead of national chains, over $ 9.3 billion would return directly to local economies.

Buying local will also keep the Florida Panhandle unique, support community groups, reduce environmental impacts, create jobs, and will encourage local prosperity overall. For 2011-2012, the total value of local foods purchased in Florida was estimated at $ 8.3 billion, generating an estimated 183,625 jobs, $ 6.5 billion in labor income, and $ 10.5 billion in value-added contributions to the Gross State Product.

Visit the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance website at to find out more about the alliance, or the farmers and the Red Hills Online Farmers Market to see innovative way this group is marketing locally produced foods.

For more information on buying local produce, please see the following publications:

 

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Author: Molly Jameson – mjameson@ufl.edu

Molly Jameson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/16/red-hills-small-farm-alliance-recognized-by-national-farm-credit-for-entrepreneurship-and-innovation/

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