Monday, October 28, 2013

Go Chef Doug!

One of our MarketReady alumni and also Food Systems Innovation Center heros launched some great products at the Incredible Food Show in Lexington.  Great to see Chef Doug finding his niche, ramping up his business, making new buyer connections, and putting all the "book work" into practice.

See Doug on this neat YouTube featurette:

Monday, October 21, 2013

More on-line retailing growth buzz

We keep stressing this in our MarketReady training.  Local foods suppliers (fresh foods, processed products, anything with a local label on it) need to get caught up with the on-line buying trend.  I just loved this recent articel by Marshall Marcovitz in The Gourmet Retailer.  Check it out - quick and fun read - Going Digital is Marketing Magic.  Digital media is here to stay and is being consumed in huge doses.

I love seeing the growth in markets like Penn's Corner, Hoosier Harvest, and Fair Shares CCSA.  Many other great examples, not to endorse any one specifically, where farmers are selling through aggregation on-line sites like these.  And some pretty creative entrepreneurs are connected with each group.  These go way beyond the simple directory of "here's where you can find local food" application of the ecommerce world.  Lower search costs for shoppers can provide a huge boost in market interest.  Ask the folks.

These sites are not a full substitute for the experiential dimension of local foods (visiting the farm market or a u-pick orchard) valued by locavores, but they sure are a nice complement. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Insurance Basics & FAQs

The MarketReady team gets a lot of questions about insurance, so we decided to pull some information together for you! If you need to learn a bit more about insurance, or if you need to ensure your current coverage is adequate, check out our Insurance Basics & FAQs resource by clicking below.

Insurance Basics & FAQs
  • Click on Additional Resources at the bottom of the page
  • Find the document "Insurance Basics & FAQs"

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Appalachian Grown Regional Brand

Very nice feature about the Appalachian Grown brand here - the ASAP folks do a great job getting this brand out.  Wish we supported it better in KY.

I personally resist rigid definitions of "local".  I like the richness of everything from communities to micro-regions to states to regions of the country to parts of the world.  It all can provide various textures of geographic indication that are meaningful to different consumers.

I mention in the MR training that New Mexico stores defines "local" as anything from within a 4-state area.  Why not?  Shared cultures and food interests aren't bound by narrow food miles definitions.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

KyFarmStart Beginning Farmer Conference

When: Saturday, Oct. 5 from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm

Registration: 7am

Cost: $15 (Includes light breakfast, breaks and lunch)

Location: Ky State Univ Farm, Center for Sustainability 
                 (5 miles south of I-64; 1.5 mi. off rt. 127)

Topics: Financial planning; market access; land access; loans 
             and grants; legal questions – and more

More Info?          

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Food Safety Conversations for KY-TN Food

I wish I had known about the Tennessee Food Safety Task Force sooner.  What a great coalition working to help develop food safety solutions for local food.  I wish we in KY could do this program along with them.  Buyers, scientists, various state and local governments, school foodservice buyers all meeting to talk about local food and how to do it as safely as possible.

You can see what you missed skimming over the program.  Many excellent presentation - - every MarketReady alum should check in. 

The good news - - I'm promised by the program organizers that they are going to post the presentations.

Sarah Johnson, (Nashville Grown Food Hub) Jon Dicki (Nashville Schools FSD), and Jeremy Barlow (Sloco Sandwich Shop) sharing the innovative things they are each doing to support local food in the Nashville, TN area.

Also especially enjoyed hearing about the Food City's buy local program.  Great news for the KY/TN/VA region.  Hooray for the regional that is getting this local food merchandising right.  Mike Tipton, the FC Produce buyer, has been doing an awesome job.  I really hope you can check in soon to the TN Food Safety Task Force site and see his presentation.

Whole Foods, Local Food, and Grocers Backward Integrating

Very nice article on the current state of Whole Foods and their local foods sourcing efforts here

We've had great input from area "foragers" at various MarketReady programs in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.  We actually had Whole Foods folks at each of our Tennessee grower training sites last year and had a bonus in-store tour in Chattanooga.  Very impressive.  I was impressed at their efforts to personalize the merchandising - pictures of stores and farms locally - interestingly including some from nearby Southern Georgia.

Back to this article - - I've seen this concept popping up in several grocers - rooftop gardens or grow-your-own local.  It's in keeping, I suppose, with the hyper-local sourcing business model being explored by a number of restuarants - (see What's Hot in 2013 NRA Chef's Survey item #7).

Are consumers really drawn to this?  Does "hyper-local" work for the grocery store?  I'm in Wegman's in State College, PA, one of my favorite grocery stores anywhere, and I see a big sign featuring Wegman's Farm.  Really?  Sure enough, Wegman's has gotten into the farming business - - see here .  This is one way to manage your upstream supply chain to assure a supply of local produce - start your own dedicated grocer-owned farm in the middle of your sales region.

Are consumers ONLY interested in geographic proximity when they are choosing products being merchandised as "local"?  Lots to say on this point.  But interested here to get reaction from the buy local community.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Farms to Food Banks" Report

The Kentucky Association of Food Banks received a Specialty Crop Block Grant for the Farms to Food Banks program, which aims to increase consumption and awareness of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers. The UK Food Systems Innovation Center just released their findings in the following report, which can be accessed by clicking the link below. 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Q&A: Discussing Local Farming Initiatives with Agricultural Economics Professor Tim Woods

Read an article by John Kiernan that features an interview with Tim Woods, the face of MarketReady. This article discusses development of MarketReady, what it entails, and how it impacts the community.This is especially a great read if you are not familiar with MarketReady and want to learn more!

CLICK HERE to read the article!

Monday, February 11, 2013

MarketReady Producer Training: Now Featuring Farm to School Training

MarketReady will be holding a training on March 20th from 9 AM to 3 PM at the Bath County Extension Office, and for the first time we will present a special Farm to School curriculum! Learn about the best business practices involved in selling your products through restaurant, wholesale, retail, food-service, and now SCHOOLS! We want to see Kentucky farms succeed and make local products available to everyone. MarketReady Training only costs $25 dollars per person, which includes training materials, a local lunch, and refreshments.

CLICH HERE for a registration form!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

MarketReady Producer Training Event

The MarketReady crew at UK is preparing for another round of trainings accross Kentucky! We will be hosting a MarketReady Training at Bath County Extension office on March 20th, 2013 from 9 am to 3 pm. If you want to begin the new year by broadening your marketing, business, communication, and sales skills and knowledge then come join us! We want to help you grow your business and reach new markets! MarketReady Training only costs $25 dollars per person, which includes training materials, a local lunch, and refreshments. Start the new year off right by trying to improve your business!

Want to register for MarketReady? Then call or e-mail us! 
(859) 257-7272 Ext. 223

CLICK HERE to visit our Website!

CLICK HERE to like us on facebook!

Economic & Policy Update January 2013 - UK Dept. of Ag. Economics

Want to stay up to date with current events, policies, and economic information? Each month UK posts an Economic & Policy Update online for FREE! See what is new this month by following the link below!

Topics include:

The New Year’s Farm Bill: New Year, Old Problems? – Aleta Botts

KyFarmStart: Beginning Farmer Training Program – Lee Meyer and Jennifer Hunter

Estimated Tax Relief 2012 – Jerry Pierce

KY Association of Food Banks: Specialty Crop Produce Sourcing Project – Tim Woods and Miranda Hileman

CLICK HERE to view the Economic & Policy Update

Around the Table: A Plan for Louisville’s Local Food Economy

This event will feature discussions focused on key issues related to developing a thriving local food economy in Louisville. Learn the results of a Seed Capital KY study that identifies large unmet demand for local food in Louisville from nationally renowned local food consultant, Karen Karp of Karp Resources. Guest speakers will include Mayor Greg Fischer, Wendell Berry, Ag Commissioner James Comer, and Stephen Reily, founder of Seed Capital KY.

CLICK HERE more info!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2012 USDA Rural Development Progress Report

Read the 2012 USDA Rural Development Progress Report! USDA Rural Development has invested millions of dollars back into rural communities, and now is your chance to see what they have accomplished!

Click HERE to read the report!

Monday, January 14, 2013

NIFTI Webinar - Marketing Support for Incubator Farmers

Are you interested in / already operating beginning farmer training programs? 

The National Incubator Farm Training Initiative (NIFTI) is hosting a webinar on integrating marketing support and cooperative marketing on incubator farms. They will discuss ways for marketing incubator farmers' products, cooperative storage, distribution, marketing infrastructure (food hubs), maintaining product quality, and food safety concerns.

This webinar will take place Wednesday, January 30th (1 pm to 2:30 pm)

Reserve your space by clicking HERE!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Kentucky Small Ruminant Grazing Conference

Do you want to learn about economic and marketing updates, forage management, water quality, reproduction and health management, and participate in a producer panel discussion? Then you need to go to the KY Small Ruminant Grazing Conference at Morehead State University. There will be many incredible guest speakers from the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Fort Valley State University, and more!

For more information contact: David Ditsch at or (859)257-9511 x286

When: Saturday, February 2, 2013 (8:30 am to 4 pm)
Where: 25 MSU Farm Dr. in Morehead, KY 40351

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Free Grant Preparation Workshop

Free Grant Preparation Workshop

Join Aleta Botts and others in Somerset, Kentucky, on January 25 for a workshop on grant preparation strategies and opportunities for Kentucky agricultural producers and rural businesses.

If you are interested in learning more about how to find and secure funding opportunities, how to prepare strong applications, or how to connect with other resources available to you, then you should join us at this free workshop. They will discuss basic strategies for navigating most grant applications, highlight some specific programs that you might be interested in, and help you become more familiar with the realities of grant-hunting.

The workshop runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Pulaski County Extension Office at 28 Parkway Drive in Somerset, and lunch will be provided.

While there is no charge for the workshop, pre-registration is required and participants will be accepted first come, first served. If you are interested in registering, contact Aleta Botts at or at 859-951-8328.

Eastern Kentucky Food System Collaborative Meeting

The Eastern Kentucky Food System Collaborative meeting will focus around moving forward with the vision of a healthy regional food system in Eastern Kentucky. Commissioner James Comer will speak over a local lunch and during a panel discussion about local food success in Eastern Kentucky communities.

When: Thursday, January 17 (10 am - 4 pm)
Where: The Woodland Center at Natural Bridge State Park in Slade, KY

R.S.V.P. to: Alexa Arnold,
Click HERE to Purchase Lunch Tickets!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Packaging Matters

Came across a great feature in Food Processing - "Gourmet Packages Team Substance With Style" by Kate Connolly.

Skim at:

Many nice links and examples.

This article reminds us that packaging is such an important part of the product and building brand identity.  Many of our local processed foods involve small batches and artisan creations that lend themselves perfectly to appetites of certain consumers.  But the packaging needs to convey the product's handmade qualities - especially if you are selling in a busy retail venue.  Otherwise, your product can easily get lost in the ocean of commercial substitute products without ever providing a signal that the package contains something very special.

Many small scale, start-up food entrepreneurs are reluctant to make the necessary investments in packaging and presentation.  Packaging can become expensive, but look for help.  KDA has some great cost-sharing programs to help with logo and package design, providing a nice boost to your merchandising dollar.

See the application at:

We discuss these programs in our MarketReady trainings.  I'm going to attempt to bring along some nice examples of how producers have used this program to upgrade their own packaging in some future blogs posts.  It's a competitive marketspace.  Under-investing in packaging and presentation means underselling the product.

Keep in mind - good packaging will contribute to

1. Higher first trial rates
2. Higher repeat sales and inventory turns
3. Artisan reputation effects - including product referrals
4. Higher retailer interest in supporting your product
5. In many cases - ability for you to charge "artisan" prices

Finally - has many good resources for commercial packaging - everything from glass to cryovac to bar code printers.  Check out the site.

Happy New Year to All - and great food marketing successes for 2013!


2013 Produce Growers Meeting

The 2013 Produce Growers Meeting will take place on January 31. Topics will include getting ready for 2013, managing family produce farms to get the best profits, high tunnel tomato production and disease control, other crops that can be grown in high tunnels, maximizing profits for your greenhouse, producing more and better quality cantaloups and watermelons, disease control for melons and pumpkins, and marketing tips for 2013. The event will end with time for questions and answers with the guest speakers. Attendance for this event is open to all growers producing for the Lincoln County Produce Auction, Farmers Markets, roadside markets, etc.

WHEN: Thursday, January 31, 10 am to 3 pm
WHERE: Sportsman's Club in Crab Orchard, Kentucky on highway 150

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What's Hot in 2013? More "local" food!

A new press release from our good friends at the National Restaurant Association confirming chef perspectives on what will be hot in 2013 - - local everything!

Locally sourced meats/seafood and local produce are #1 and #2 again for this coming year.  Hyper-local (restaurant gardens) at #7 and farm/estate branded items at #11 make the top 20 again.  Food trucks cracked the top 20 this year - something I hope we will see a lot more of in our local food community in Kentucky soon - and good opportuities for local farmers.

The other rising theme worth noting - restaurants want to do a better job reaching kids - heathful kids meals, children's nutrition, fruit and vegetable side items for kids were each noted among what will be hot in 2013. 

See even more detail at:

What's Hot 2013 top five food trends