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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Southwest > Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems > Pride of the Prairie - Year 3

Pride of the Prairie - Year 3

Project files

Purpose

Year 3--A coalition of non-profits, farmers and UMM administration/faculty/students in developing a local food system in the west central region. Much of the third year was continuation of system development in serving food on UMM campus, education, technical support, web page development and expanding the farmers marketing and delivery system.

Partners

Land Stewardship Project
UMN Extension
UMN-Morris – Sodexho Campus Services

Activities

Monthly meetings of the Pride of the Prairie coordinating committee, referred to as “The Foodies”, continued to serve through 2003 as the project’s coordinators, communicators and extended work force along with Land Stewardship Project.

Throughout the year LSP continued as a resource to community organizations to help develop menus, identify and locate local foods for a variety of events and meals that included:

  • Watson Harvest Festival, Saturday August 23rd, with a local farmers market and roast beef dinner attended by 200.
  • Pig Power meeting at WCROC in November 2003 with 50 people
  • A Taste of Branson, Minnesota Valley School, Spring 2003, using Pride of the Prairie placemat Montevideo Chili Cook-off featuring local ingredients and a local farmers market, October 2003, 150 people
  • Chippewa Watershed Project Annual Meeting in spring 2003 and 2004
  • CURE annual meeting in February 2004 featuring local foods and farmers, 120 attendees
  • Lenten Supper at UCC Church, Granite Falls, March 2004 serving 35 people
  • Pig Power meeting in Redwood Falls with 75 people, Spring 2004
  • Sustainable Business Planning Workshop Series in Willmar, working with Taher Foodservice, using local foods, Spring 2004
  • Health Awareness at Minnesota Valley School session on Fun and Healthy Snacks for Kids using locally produced foods, March 2004
  • Chippewa Historical Society Meeting, featuring Pride of the Prairie food and speakers, using Pride of the Prairie place mat, for 150 people, April 2004
  • Montevideo Mother Days Conference with Pride of the Prairie box lunches, 150 women, April 2004
  • Montevideo Fiesta Days Crop Walk, with an intergenerational dialogue, and Pride of the Prairie meal, June 2004. This is providing the platform for connecting with many communities of faith and forming partnerships to address the area of community food security.

The Willmar Moveable Feast Local foods were featured at the Pride of the Prairie event, Celebrating Food from Our Land, held at the United Methodist Church in Willmar in November 2003.

The Pride of the Prairie Farmers After a summer hiatus the farmers began meeting again as a group. We have formed a farmers market before each meeting in Montevideo and in Milan. The group meets every other week with a number of subcommittees meeting to accomplish assigned tasks through e-mail or in person between meetings.

Outcomes

In summer of 2003 along with the support of the FoodRoutes Learning Community we developed the recognizable Pride of the Prairie logo shown on the cover of this report and used on our Local Foods Guide. Three thousand Local Foods Guides were printed, listing local direct marketing farmers within an 85- mile radius of Morris, MN. These and other communications materials have been disseminated throughout the region. We are developing a newspaper insert type communications piece that will use this logo and we are planning mailings in the Alexandria and the Willmar areas that will include listings of farms, farmers markets, promo pieces about local foods, and the Buy Fresh Buy Local label. These will be distributed in May to everyone who subscribes to the Willmar and Alexandria newspapers and through Lake Association newsletter in the Alexandria area.

Prairie Yard and Garden, a popular Public Television show, has featured Pride of the Prairie on an episode that has been run and rerun on a number of occasions.

The farmers group (Prairie Grown) is The Willmar Moveable Feast

In summer of 2003 along with the support of the FoodRoutes Learning Community we developed the recognizable Pride of the Prairie logo shown on the cover of this report and used on our Local Foods Guide. Three thousand Local Foods Guides were printed, listing local direct marketing farmers within an 85- mile radius of Morris, MN. These and other communications materials have been disseminated throughout the region. We are developing a newspaper insert type

Communications piece that will use this logo and we are planning mailings in the Alexandria and the Willmar areas that will include listings of farms, farmers markets, promo pieces about local foods, and the Buy Fresh Buy Local label. These will be distributed in May to everyone who subscribes to the Willmar and Alexandria newspapers and through Lake Association newsletter in the Alexandria area.

Sponsoring print ads and radio ads in the Montevideo and Milan areas to get people to shop the Farmers Market that preceeds each meeting. We are also developing point of sale materials using the Pride of the Prairie logos, labels and looks.

This summer we will provide farmers’ markets with signage bearing the highly recognizable Buy Fresh Buy Local label. This should raise awareness of Pride of the Prairie and the individual farmers markets. We will also offer the opportunity for market organizers in this region to use the label and logo in their advertising and outreach.

The Willmar Moveable Feast This dinner catered by Culinary Seasons was by invitation to members of the Willmar area healthcare, business, and economic development communities, along with local food producing farmers. Pride of the Prairie was introduced to the 60 people who attended the dinner and the event generated local interest and the opportunity for a radio interview, an invitation to speak at the Willmar Kiwanis, and a newspaper article picked up by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Plans are in place to continue outreach in this part of our region with a newspaper insert this summer and Pride of the Prairie signs for the Willmar farmers market. Next year it is likely a Moveable Feast will be held in the Alexandria area building on the newspaper insert developed this summer and work with the Lake Association. We also hope to continue connecting our work with human health building off contacts and interest shown at this event.

The Pride of the Prairie Farmers

The following bullets are the highlights of this group’s progress toward forming a formal marketing business.

  • Prairie Yard and Garden, the popular public television show followed up the local foods show they did in the summer with pieces on Honey and Herbs and on Earthrise Farm.
  • Information about our marketing network was featured in articles in area newspapers including the West Central Tribune, the Clara City Herald, Agri-News, and others.
  • Pride of the Prairie was featured and awarded at Minnesota Rural Partners annual gathering for our work in rural entrepreneurship.
  • The farmer group adopted the temporary name of Pride of the Prairie’s Marketbasket (eventually became Prairie Grown)
  • Over $1200 worth of Christmas Gift bags were sold. Each basket was clearly labeled with the Pride of the Prairie label and included our local foods directory. Over 24 families were given the gift of good local food. Two employers purchased baskets for their employees.
  • Five farmers attended two marketing conferences bringing information and ideas back to the group.
  • Farmers in the group worked to source and helped design transportation logistics for a wide variety of local foods meals listed above.
  • We have collected product and price information and are beginning to develop sell sheets.
  • We will soon have a “farmers only” site on the web site where farmers can access documents and provide information about product and price.
  • We have developed basic production standards for livestock and for fruits and veggies.
  • “Planning your Sustainable Business”, a business planning training session was offered this early spring. It will be repeated again next spring.
  • We had a workshop with the marketing coordinator of the Southeast Food Network in June.
  • We had a day- long workshop with two charter board members of the Southeast Food Network in March.
  • We continue to reach out to Farm Beginnings participants to become part of the group. Pride of the Prairie is a presenter in Farm Beginnings Marketing session.
  • The Pride of the Prairie Grown Group is planning a day- long retreat in April or early May to forge ahead in our planning of the distribution and marketing business.
  • As part of the Food Routes Learning Community we did a survey of 15 Market basket farmers to determine where they sold products locally in 2003 compared to 2002. They reported an increase in number of restaurants, retail grocers, institutions, wholesalers and individual direct sale customers in 2003. Overall the percentage increase in gross sales to local markets for these 15 farmers in 2003 over 2002, stayed the same for 3, increased 1-5% for 3, increased 11-20% for one, and increased more than 20% for 3. This confirmed our perception that there is a widening market for locally produced foods within the region.

Funding

In-Kind 25,270.00
Outside 140,000.00
Volunteer 38,221.00
State Special 60,000.00
Total 223,4991.00

Leveraged resources

A two-year grant from USDA Cooperative State Research Education and Research Services.
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