Lowndes County farmers encouraged to attend marketing of local fruits and vegetables program

Published 3:32 pm Saturday, January 16, 2016

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By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
Lowndes County farmers are encouraged to participate in two Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) special programs on the marketing of local fruits and vegetables Feb. 2 and Feb. 4 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Central Alabama Farmer’s Co- Op on U.S. 80 in Selma.
The Dallas County Extension Office is hosting the event, which is sponsored by ACES.
According to ACES, “If you are a farmer who wants to learn more about the marketing tools available to boost local sales, then this workshop is for you. We will discuss marketing channels available in Dallas County and beyond and hopefully give you some innovative ideas to help improve profitability in the coming growing season.”
And Katanga Mants, extension coordinator for the ACES Lowndes County Office, said, “This event is open to all Lowndes County farmers(small and large) who are interested in learning to better market their fruit and vegetables for increased profits.”
Also according to ACES, Lunch and an abundance of marketing materials will be provided for participants so preregistration is necessary by Friday, Jan. 29. For more information or to register for the workshop, please contact the Dallas County Extension office at 334-875-3200. The first 25 registrations will receive a Buy Fresh, Buy Local Alabama cap.
The program schedule includes: Find Opportunities, Navigate Regulations and Know Your Customers on day one, and Create Attractive Displays, Communicate Value To Customers and Create Effective Marketing on day two.
The focus of the first session will be assessing farm capacity, determining markets available, and identifying customer characteristics to help boost sales. Understanding farm business capacity and available markets can help farmers enter into successful new marketing enterprises. This session includes a hands-on self-assessment, market assessment, and customer assessment to help farmers make future business decisions. Along with a hands-on assessments, workshop participants will learn about regulations associated with entering certain markets, pricing strategies for profitability and creating customer focused marketing materials.
In the second session, farmers will learn how to communicate marketing messages that resonate with customers, build displays that draw customers to the booth and feature the benefits of products, and long-term strategies for dealing with market changes. Learning to communicate the value of locally grown fruits and vegetables can improve individual farm sales, as well as, strengthen the local food system. The skills learned in this second session, will help farmers maximize exposure and increase sales.
The foundation of most direct marketing strategies is a Farmers Market or roadside stand. Because of increasing regulation on the food and agriculture industry, sometimes these small markets offer the only sales outlet for a small fruit or vegetable producer. The skills gained in the two marketing workshops will help farmers increase sales, strengthen our Farmers Markets, and strengthen the local food system. The Alabama Department of Agriculture estimates that Farmers Markets generate about $67 million in economic impact for the state. Alabama has about 160 registered Farmers Markets along with many roadside stands.

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