How can we ensure the continued success ofÂ local farms in our foodshed?
Direct-market business models such as farmers markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) have fueled much of the growth of the local food movement in the last two decades.Â However, aÂ growing number of farmers in our region now report declining farmers market sales and increased difficulty attracting and retaining CSA members.Â Through a process of open dialogue among farmers and local food advocates, we will (1) gain an understanding of current challenges for direct market farms, (2) identify critical issues and barriers to theirÂ continued success and (3) develop a farmer-led agenda for action that will guide follow-up activity after the conference concludes.
Important questions we hope to address include:
- What obstacles do farmers selling to local markets face?
- How are consumer behaviors and preferences changing?
- How will CSA farms attract and retain new members in a changing marketplace?
- Whatâ€™s behind declining sales at farmers markets?
- How can farmers work together to reach new markets?
- What can food and farm organizations do to help farmers overcome obstacles?
Since the real â€˜expertsâ€™ at the conference are the participants, the bulk of our time will be spent in small working groups. The conference will use an â€œOpen Spaceâ€ meeting format that allows for broadÂ and democratic input and is used by diverse organizations,Â businesses, and communities to deal with complex and systemic problems. For more information on Open Space meeting facilitation, please visitÂ www.openspaceworld.org.
Registration is free. Meals will be provided at no cost. Lunch and dinner will be served on Wednesday. Breakfast and lunch will be served on Thursday.
â€“ Wednesday, January 18th from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Dinner begins at 6:00 PM
â€“ Thursday, January 19th from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM (Depart at 3:30 PM)
Register online at www.routes2farm.org. Lodging will be available at no cost for farmers. We encourage you to spread the word within your networks so that farmers from all theÂ Routes to Farm alliances will be represented. Space will be limited. Please emailÂ firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.