Kansas farmers’ markets see results from specialty crop block grant projects
TOPEKA – Two grants awarded to the Kansas Rural Center to promote specialty crops and enhance marketing plans for local farmers’ markets are generating results.
“On average, the 11 markets that received grant money to help promote their markets saw a 25 percent increase in sales and a 22 percent increase in customer flow,” said Josh Svaty, acting secretary of agriculture of the Kansas Department of Agriculture. “That tells me this is money well spent.”
The Kansas Department of Agriculture awarded the Kansas Rural Center $32,000 in 2007 and 2008 and $40,000 in 2009 for projects involving Kansas farmers’ markets. The money came from USDA’s specialty crop block grant that states can use to enhance the marketability of their specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and nursery crops, including floriculture.
The Kansas Rural Center used its first grant to develop individual marketing plans for 11 markets stretching from Kansas City to Arkansas City to Smith Center. It increased the markets’ visibility at a time when they also were introducing new specialty crops.
The Kansas Rural Center is using its second grant to bring farmers’ markets into the 21st century.
One project goal already accomplished is the Kansas Farmers’ Markets website at www.ksfarmersmarkets.org. The site lists all of Kansas’ 81 markets and will soon feature a photo gallery, market geo mapping, a searchable recipe database and a list of market events.
Another project goal is the “Savor the Season” program that involves producing recipe cards featuring Kansas fruits and vegetables. The cards are available at 10 farmers’ markets statewide and also are posted on the Kansas Farmers’ Markets website.
A 2009 Kansas farmers’ market conference supported by this grant was very well received by its 158 participants.
More about the specialty crop block grant program is available on the Kansas Department of Agriculture website at www.ksda.gov/kansas_agriculture/content/281.