Upcoming Webinar: Marketing Together through Producer Cooperatives: Three Stories from PA and WV

One challenge facing Central Appalachian small farmers who want to grow their business is marketing their product. It can be difficult finding larger buyers when you don't have large amounts of produce to sell. Cooperative marketing is one method farmers are using to overcome this issue, and the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, along with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, are hosting a webinar on this very issue. Read below for more information!


Marketing Together through Producer Cooperatives: Three Stories from PA and WV

Fri, 03/16/2012 – 11:37

A Webinar hosted by the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture

Thursday, April 5, 2012 


Cost: Free

Farmer cooperatives are a business model that can help small and medium sized producers address local food system challenges related to aggregation, distribution, storage and marketing. By cooperatively coordinating supply chain logistics, producers work together to market and brand their products, satisfy the requirements of higher-volume purchasers like restaurants and institutional buyers, and expand distribution opportunities.

In this webinar, hear from three farm cooperative leaders from around Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Learn about and discuss how these successful models work, and how to apply lessons learned from these models to strengthen opportunities for farmers in your community. 

Click here to register for the webinar.

Presenters include:

Neil Stauffer, Manager, Penn's Corner Farm Alliance

Western Pennsylvania

Founded in 1999, Penn's Corner Farm Alliance is a farmer cooperative in Southwestern Pennsylvania with the mission to provide high quality, farm-fresh products directly to customers while providing a sustainable rate of return to the farmer. As a group of more than 30 members, Penn's Corner delivers fruits, vegetables, and other farm food products directly to customers in the Pittsburgh area through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. In addition to the CSA, they market to fine restaurants in the Pittsburgh vicinity, and host an online, Farm Stand Buying Club. Farmers use sustainable farming practices and many of them grow organically.

Jim Crawford, President, Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative

South-Central Pennsylvania

Tuscarora Organic Growers (TOG) took root in 1988 when a group of neighboring organic fruit and vegetable farmers discussed the possibility of joining forces in the marketing of their products. By working together, they could coordinate crop production to complement one another rather than compete. And they could enjoy economies of scale in shipping and selling. The cooperative form of business fit the farmers' needs, allowing ownership and market access to be divided fairly and decisions to be made jointly. Through cooperation, the growers were able to serve their customers better, by providing a diversity of crops and a level of service that no one grower could provide on his own. In TOG's first season, seven growers moved about 1,500 cases of produce to Washington DC retailers over a five-month period. Since then, each successive season has brought steady growth in sales as well as diversity, season length and professionalism. In the coming season, TOG will work with over 28 member producers and 17 non-member producers to bring a projected 100,000 cases of produce from farm to city, offering locally grown, certified organic produce all 12 months of the year.

Tootie Jones, President, Monroe Farm Market

Southeastern West Virginia

Monroe Farm Market Online is comprised of over 25 small and diverse farmers located in Monroe and surrounding counties who produce seasonal fruits and vegetables, beef, chicken, lamb, pork, trout, eggs, baked goods and other value-added items. After starting as a traditional farmers market in 2005, in April 2008 MFM formed the Monroe Farm Market Online Farmers Market to deliver to buyers in the Charleston, Beckley and the Monroe County areas. MFM has a customer base of 80 online members and various restaurants dedicated to locally grown food. Participating farms are family owned and operated, ranging from from small 2 acre farms to several hundred acres. Customers pay an annual membership fee and then can order what they want, in the quantities they want, from the farms they want.

The webinar will also feature resources from the Ohio Cooperative Development CenterPennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition.