OSU Extension Direct Food & Agricultural Marketing Team

By Christie Welch 
Direct Marketing Program Manager

Direct Food & Ag Marketing Team focus: 

The Direct Food and Agriculture Marketing team is focused on providing training, education, and technical assistance to Ohio’s food producers and marketers.  The goal of this assistance is to help these small businesses increase their marketing effectiveness and profitability.  This should translate to healthier farms, food producers, and the communities where they reside, as well as increase access for consumers to locally produced foods.

The team has been selected to receive a $81,316 grant from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) for the project, “Professional Development for Ohio Farmers Market Managers and OSU Extension Educators on Creating a Culture of Data Collection for Sustainability Planning for Markets and Farmers.”

Collaborating on the project are the Farmers Market Coalition and the Ohio Farmers Markets Network. “This project will provide training for farmers market stakeholders on meaningful data collection and use for markets and vendors to use in developing sustainability plans,” said Direct Food and Agricultural Marking Team leader Christie Welch. Beginning in early 2020, the project with be carried out over a period of three years and will help to benefit Ohio farmers’ market with decision-making information.

In 2019 the team provided many trainings and educational presentations throughout Ohio.  Highlights of these include:

  • MarketReady – A one-day workshop that helps local food producers explore various market channels: direct to consumers, direct to restaurants, direct to wholesale, and direct to institutions. The workshop focuses on the main business functions for each of these market channels.  The trainings were delivered in conjunction with OSUE Hamilton and Ross Counties, The Minority Business Assistance Center of Cincinnati, Ohio Farm Bureau Ross, Pickaway, Hocking, and Fairfield Counties, and the University of Kentucky’s Center for Crop Diversification. An attendee said of the training, “well developed models, knowledgeable presenters.” When asked what they liked most about MarketReady, most say the “training was great. Highly recommended.” 
  • Partnered with the OSU Resource and Ag Law Program, Wright & Moore Law, LPP, and Ohio Farm Bureau to host the third annual Ohio AgritourismReady conference at Maize Valley Winery. More than 100 individuals attended the conference and learned how to grow their agritourism enterprises, how to manage liability, best marketing practices, and much more.  Bill Bakan, Fun Tsar of Maize Valley, a Family Farm Market and Winery creating fun, local and healthy experiences for all, was the host and very well received by those in attendance.  Comments included “perfect location, helps to see things in action. Excellent sessions.”
  • Held a Sustainability Planning for Ohio Farmers Markets in collaboration with the Ohio Farmers Markets Network, Cornell Cooperative Extension Broome County, and Grow NYC.  Thirty-seven Ohio farmers’ markets managers and stakeholders attended the two-day training, which provided information and resources to assist Ohio’s farmers markets in development of a sustainability plan for their markets.  One attendee, when asked what they liked best about the training, responded “EVERYTHING! The crisis planning and business management tools contain several items I will definitely apply to my market.”
  • Partnered with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives and Ohio Farm Bureau to offer Foodpreneur School. Foodpreneurs engaged with experts in branding, sales, marketing, and more to learn strategies to meet their growth goals. This two-day training was well received and plans are ongoing for Foodpreneur 2.0.
  • Partnered with Dr. Abby Snyder, Field Specialist, Food Safety & Management with OSU Extension on a Connect & Collaborate Grant to offer, “Value Added Small Food Processors Training” to 240 small food processors.  The project aimed to help attendees understand qualified exemption status under the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Preventative Controls for Human Food Rule.  Of attendees surveyed 85% found the training useful. Christie Welch presented the project and results to OSU Extension ANR Educators at their annual conference.

In addition, team members presented a variety of marketing trainings throughout Ohio including:

  • Marketing Programs to Program Development and Evaluation (COMLDR 3330) for Dr. Scott Sheer’s class Understanding the Consumer to Ohio Small Farm College attendees
  • The Appalachian Table – Where Local Food Producers and Buyers Come Together – poster presentation at OSU Extension Annual Conference
  • Marketing Matters – free monthly marketing presentations that are delivered through online streaming and the team’s YouTube channel.

Team members continue to participate in a variety of groups throughout Ohio including, Pike County Local Foods Group, Minority Business Assistance Center, Cincinnati Advisory Board, OPGMA’s educational committee, and the National Farmers’ Markets Working Group.

The team published the factsheet titled Creating Signage for Direct Food and Agricultural Sales, which is available at Ohioline.com

If you would like to be a member of the Direct Food and Agricultural Marketing Team, or would like additional information, please contact Christie Welch, welch.183@osu.edu