OSU Extension Direct Food and Ag Marketing Team 2017 Summary Report

By: Christie Welch, Program Manager and Team Leader

Direct Food & Ag Marketing Team focus:

The 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 effectiveness and thereby their profitability. This should translate to healthier farms, food producers, and the communities where they reside and increase access for consumers to locally produced foods.

In 2017 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 training was delivered in conjunction with OSUE Cuyahoga County to 26 participants. An attendee said about the training that, “all subjects and speakers were very informative, meeting and talking with fellow growers-always a plus.” Another said they valued, “learning how to connect and strengthen customer relationships through demographics, their needs and offering products through direct sales.” In addition to the collaboration between Amanda Osborne of OSUE Cuyahoga County and the Direct Marketing Team, Ivory Harlow of the Center for Cooperatives shared information about cooperative development with the attendees.

• The Direct Marketing Team continues to collaborate with the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Proud Program. Team members supported two Ohio Proud Food Summits held in Columbus, and Wellington. The regional summits bring local food producers together with local food buyers. As a result, local food producers enter new markets and increase access to their locally produced foods.

• Collaborated with the Ohio Proud Program to offer best marketing practices to Ohio Proud Partners – Columbus and Piketon and Milan; approximately 75 individuals attended.

• Partnered with the OSU Resource and Ag Law Program and Wright & Moore Law, LPP to host the first annual Ohio AgritourismReady conference. More than 75 individuals attended the conference and learn how to grow their agritourism enterprises, how to manage liability, best marketing practices, and much more.  The conference was so well received that we are currently planning the second annual AgritourismReady conference which will be held March 10, 2018 in Piketon, OH.

• Online video presentation to Heritage Ohio on how to have a successful farmers’ market in your community to 50 members of Heritage Ohio. According to their website, As Ohio’s official historic preservation and Main Street organization, Heritage Ohio fosters economic development and sustainability through preservation of historic buildings, revitalization of downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts, and promotion of cultural tourism.

• Presented at three regional meetings (Toledo, Dayton, and Marion) of the Ohio Travel Association to make connections with local visitors’ bureaus and tourism organizations with Ohio Agritourism operators for the benefit of both groups. Association members have a better understanding of agritourism enterprises in Ohio and how they can be included in county tourism promotions to help attract visitors to their counties.

• Was invited to present Facebook Basics and Using Social Media to Market Your Business to the Ohio State Beekeepers Association conference. This annual conference attracts nearly 400 attendees of which 100 attended these two presentations.

• Team members Rob Leeds, OSU Extension Delaware County and Eric Barrett, OSU Extension Delaware County presented - Managing Your Online Presence and Customer Service in Social Media and the Digital World at the 2017 North American Farm Direct Marketing Association (NAFDMA) Annual Convention, in February in Mystic, Connecticut.

In addition team members presented a variety of marketing trainings throughout Ohio including; Best Marketing Practices, Identifying Your Target Market, Getting MarketReady, How to Develop a Marketing Plan, Farmers’ Markets Basics, Connecting with Your Customers, and Value Added Opportunities among others.

The team also rebranded and updated the Maps & Apps curriculum, now DeviceReady – Managing Your Online Presence.  The inaugural presentation of DeviceReady was held in conjunction with the Small Business Development Center at Columbus State Community College. The program was so well received it is being offered again on April 17, 2018 for CSCC and on April 24, 2018 for the Ohio State Beekeepers Association members.

Team members published two factsheets; Selling Eggs in Ohio: Marketing and Regulations and Maps, Apps and Mobile Media Marketing both of which are available via Ohioline.

Team members Eric Barrett, Peggy Hall and Emily Adams completed a project with others across campus, entitled, “Removing Barriers to the Direct Marketing of Farm Foods in Ohio,” as part of an OSU Cares Grant. The project surveyed farmers’ market managers and health departments, and gained input from farmers around Ohio. Four themes were evident that need addressed in Ohio. The project team will work with ODA, ODH and others in Ohio to review the results and to make plans for reducing barriers to entry in the coming year.