i-Three Issue Corps 2016 – Blog for Beginning Farmers and Local Food Producers

Gary Lesoing

Extension Educator

University of Nebraska

What is the change you are designing to achieve?

The change I want to achieve is increase the awareness of the local food scene in Nebraska and also increase sales of local food by beginning farmers and other local food producers in the region.

How will you measure that change?

I will measure the change through an end of season survey through my interactive blog, conduct targeted interviews with consumers, survey farmers market managers and survey farmers to determine impact of the blog on this change.

What is the innovative component or strategy you will implement as a result of the design-a-thon?

The innovative component I will implement as a result of the design-a-thon is I will initiate an interactive blog that will highlight beginning farmers that are local food producers, plus other local food producers. The blog will include a video of the local farmer and the food they produce, plus the opportunity for people to respond to the blog. There will also be links to other social media tools and information on local food.

How did the design-a-thon help you?

This design-a-thon gave showed me ways I can link with others with different expertise to improve my project and provide a more complete product. This will also provide opportunities for funding as well.

Summary:

In the area of local foods, I have initiated and conducted 7 Farm Beginnings® Programs to provide education for beginning farmers in production and financial management. This program involves bringing in successful farmers that are producing local foods and also touring several farms. I have conducted local food systems tours for educators and consumers of over 40 farms in Nebraska and conducted webinars and presentations focusing on local food producers and production in Nebraska. This program has been two-fold; to provide education for farmers interested in producing local food and to provide awareness to other educators and consumers about the scope of local food production in Nebraska. In 2016 we will be conducting another Farm Beginnings® Program. My goal for each Farm Beginnings® class is to provide them the tools needed to become successful in producing and marketing local foods if they so desire. Beginning farmers usually can use assistance in marketing their products. My project is going to give beginning farmers a boost in marketing themselves and their local food products through a weekly blog. I will initiate a weekly blog that features a local food producer and the products they are marketing. I will incorporate videos and photos into this blog so people can get to know these farmers. When launching this blog I will advertise to all local food groups and organizations in Nebraska for promotion. This blog will provide a place where consumers can go and learn about local food producers and their products in Nebraska. My goal is to add any local food producer in Nebraska to this blog. The link to this blog will be shared on Twitter and Facebook to increase exposure. It will demonstrate that local food production is an important component of Nebraska Agriculture and will assist in marketing local food.

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