Pasture To Plate will create a business model for a legally certified mobile kitchen space for value addition and food-related programming to be offered legally on site. In the first year Pasture to Plate and Young Farmer Night will form a partnership that focuses on network development and helping farmers offer events for fellow farmers and the public on their farms. Each event will begin with a farm tour, followed by a workshop that provides the opportunity for learning and participation in animal husbandry, butchery, and cooking. The workshop will be followed by an on-farm-meal or potluck and the option for attendees to purchase food directly from the host farm to take home at the end of the evening.
Pasture To Plate is a visionary project that will help grow a more diverse and resilient regional food system. Pasture to Plate director, Margiana Peterson-Rockney grew up on Rosasharn Farm, a working family farm that aims to grow a healthy local community through education and outreach. By growing produce in a livestock-integrated, ecologically-based system that feeds its community today, Rosasharn Farm stewards the natural landscape for future generations. Over the past four years Margiana developed and managed a five-acre Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and educational internship program on land leased from her family. She saw first hand how small farms grow community, are vital local businesses, and the stewards of much of our natural and open spaces. Sadly, she also saw many small and beginning farms flounder financially and go out of business.
In order for small farms to be economically viable they must offer high-quality, diverse, and high-value products and services. There are three challenges and solutions that Pasture To Plate helps address in the order below.
1. Farmer peer network. The first step to creating a successful farming future is to create a strong beginning farmer network of folks of all ages and stages of farming- from those just beginning to think about a farming future to those who have been farming for ten years. By partnering with the Young Farmer Night network, Pasture to Plate will begin its venture with a strong support network.
2. Consumer on-farm education. Farmers, especially beginning farmers, want to engage the community and public on their farms, but do not necessarily have the organizational capacity or correct insurance to create and host effective educational events. Sharing the farm and offering fun and educational experiences are important ways to connect with the community and ensure continued support of farms. Through a Pasture To Plate and Young Farmer Night partnership, we can help develop events that engage fellow farmers and the public on new farms.
3. Food preparation and consumption on the farm. Regulations and food safety standards, though necessary, make it difficult for small, diversified farms to add value to their raw farm products and services. Adding value to raw farm products (such as making tomato sauce and jam for sale), as well as farm dinners and food-related programming, has great potential to aid in healthy rural development, create community-based jobs, and keep small farmers economically sustainable.
Schedule and Budget Justification
Organize Young Farmer Networking events, public Pasture To Plate workshops at beginning, small scale, sustainable farms in southern New England.
- Young Farmer Nights
- These peer-networking events provide the opportunity for beginning farmers to learn from one another and get to know each other, leading to collaborative projects and initiatives. Each YFN includes a farm tour, a potluck, and a fun activity after (such as a bonfire, or farm-related movie screening).
- Food Preparation Workshops- Open to the public
- With a goal of at least 30 attendees to each farm workshop people will have a chance to learn about that specific farm during a farm tour and then engage in a hands-on family-friendly fun and educational workshop designed by Pasture To Plate. The host farmer will learn how to offer successful food preparation workshops that highlight what they produce and engage potential customers. Each workshop will be unique and the Pasture To Plate team will create an event plan/guide/curriculum that will then be publicly available and easy to adapt and use on other farms, providing a template for beginning farmers to engage the public.
- After each event the host farm will be able to sell their unique products to the attendees, who will have a greater understanding of the unique aspects of that farm and will hopefully be returning customers in the future.
Develop the future of Young Farmer Night and Pasture To Plate.
- Thought and planning will be put into the long-term future of Pasture To Plate. What opportunities are there? What partnerships would help grow Pasture To Plate? What would it take to purchase a food truck? What about connecting food trucks to specific farms? Music and bands at events? Rent the space as a food truck in the winter? Rental of the food preparation equipment? Adding to the library of farm event curriculum.
- Create a long-term structure of Pasture To Plate nestled in the Young Farmer Night Network, a chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition- strength in collaboration in perpetuity.
- By merging the Young Farmer Night and Pasture To Plate initiatives, both of which Margiana has developed, organized, and directed, we can form a strong team and comprehensively meet our shared goals of increasing beginning farmer viability. Both YFN and PTP have the same mission, though as event series they cater to slightly different groups (YFN to farmers and PTP to the public). By working together and becoming one entity YFN/PTP can better meet our goals and bring producers and consumers together to form a healthy and thriving beginning farmer network and events. This will also help catalyze the development of similar program in other communities.
Success, progress, and reports will be available to the public via our website (pasturetoplatekitchen.com), social media, local articles, an email newsletter, and direct email.
A key to success of this business, though difficult to quantify, is joint community investment and input to create a network that is useful to many farmers and that is adaptable to each farm’s unique needs. Each event will capture the unique flavor, or terroir, of one of New England’s most important natural and cultural resources- our family farms. After a beautiful evening spent touring the fields and pastures of a farm attendees (farmers at YFNs and the public at PTP events) will leave feeling connected to their community and local landscape. As the sun sets on full minds and tantalized taste buds, attendees will leave the host farm with a new and greater understanding of sustainable agriculture and a desire to be active network members. A sense of community creation, involvement, and responsibility to all stakeholders are the true keys to success.
Some measurable outcomes of Pasture To Plate and Young Farmer Night’s success in the first year include:
- By the end of summer 2013, over 300 people will have been introduced to new local farms and participated in educational food preparation workshops.
- If each workshop attendee spends just $100 over the season at the workshop host farm, that will shift $30,000 of food spending to these beginning farms.
- A library of at least 10 workshop curriculum will have been created and publicly available for beginning farmers to use to offer food preparation workshops to the public.
- Over 200 beginning farmers will have come together to learn from one another with potential to collaborate and enhance each others work.
- A model for socially embedded, ecologically sustainable, and economically viable farm to public events, as well as farmer peer-networking events will have been created and be publicly available.
With fundraising before the season begins, the equipment and materials needed for the project will be purchased outright and be available for local farms to use to offer food preparation workshops.