Professional Development Program






PAGE 32 / 87

Unit 2: Marketing Opportunities and Strategies for Sustainable Farm/Ranch Businesses

Topic 1: Market Overview/Opportunities

The market for sustainably and locally grown products is growing. New farmers markets are opening up in cities across the country, more and more consumers are participating in community supported agriculture, and grocery stores and restaurants increasingly want to source their products from local growers. What is driving these changes? Consumer demand plays a large part in these marketplace dynamics. A growing number of consumers want to learn about their food, connect with farmers and purchase products they believe are fresher and of higher quality. At the same time, many farmers themselves are spurring demand for sustainably produced products as they educate the public about food production, connect with local consumers and encourage purchases that support their communities and the environment.
A great example of this interaction between farmers and customers can be found at Picket Fence Creamery in central Iowa. When they first started out in the dairy business, all the milk from Jeff and Jill Burkharts’ 80-cow dairy left the farm in a bulk truck for processing and sale in the commodity markets. Now, the milk takes a different route to customers. In 2002, the Burkharts decided to build a bottling plant and start selling their milk directly from the farm. Today, the farm is a regular destination for customers throughout the Des Moines area. The Burkharts were already managing their cows with rotational grazing. Once they started the creamery, they began making butter, cheese curds, and 25 flavors of ice cream. In addition, they turned the creamery store into a local foods marketplace, featuring products from other farmers in the area. Learn more about the Burkharts’ marketing strategy at:  Picket Fence Creamery…to Sustain a Family Farm and Preserve a Way of Life and Heavy Cream From Picket Fence Creamery, Woodward, Iowa
PAGE 32 / 87