With a growing demand for local and healthy food, more and more growers are working to meet this demand of specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, and flowers. However, the links between supply and demand are not as easily created as one may suspect. Pests, disease, climate, food safety, regulations, processing, marketing, distribution and financing are some of the factors that growers must manage.
Renewing the Countryside has created a plan that will accelerate both the supply of and demand for edible specialty crops in Southern Minnesota and surrounding regions. We are aiming to:
Increase supply and sales of edible specialty crops by local producers;
Increase the profitability and sustainability of these producers; and
Expand awareness and support for locally grown, edible specialty crops in Southern Minnesota
How will we accomplish this? We are working on two components to generate the supply and demand for specialty crops:
Post Harvest Handling Workshops: Provide post-harvest handling training to current and aspiring specialty crop farmers.
Specialty Crop Enhancement Teams: Implementing specialty crop enhancement teams to work directly with producers to identify the obstacles and challenges of their operation. A plan will be made and/or additional technical assistance advice brought in to assist the producer to overcome those obstacles so they can improve and grow their business.
To learn more about the Specialty Crop Enhancement Team program, click here.
These workshops and specialty crop enhancement teams occurred throughout 2015-2016.
Post Harvest Handling Workshops
Renewing the Countryside and Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture hosted four half day workshops during March 2015 (see below). These workshops were presented by farmers Lisa Baker of Bakers’ Acres, Laura Frerichs of Loon Organics and Joan Olson of Prairie Drifter Farm and covered a range of topics (see below).
Harvest, respiration, cleaning & cooling, packing area, infrastructure, sorting & grading, storage, packing & packaging, transport, and display & point-of-sale.
Post Harvest Workshop Sponsors: