***Web-based Local Food Campaign ~
This companion website – www.farmtofamily.net - features monthly family farm profiles and transcripts of the radio show, local food tips, family farm and direct marketer directory, local food links, and much more. Powered by Avera Sacred Heart Hospital.
***Farm to Family Connection Project ~
Funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation and administered by Northeast Nebraska RC&D based in Plainview, Neb., this project conducted surveys of producers and consumers, to study the impact of radio and web-based local food campaigns on consumer spending habits. A toolkit was developed for farm organizations, radio stations, local food advocates and enthusiasts to establish their own radio/web-based local food campaign in other parts of the country and is currently for sale through Northeast Nebraska RC&D in Plainview, NE. Project seeks to help connect family farmers and consumers in several unique ways.
On the air
Farm to Family Connection first aired in March 2003 on KKYA, 93.1 FM radio based in Yankton, SD. Tramp Buffalo Farm of Crofton, Neb., was the first farm featured on the show. Since that time, over 400 farmers, ranchers, home-based and local businesses and communities and festivals have been featured through 475 plus programs, airing each Thursday at times when many folks in the region are in their vehicles commuting to and from work and when the stations have a live DJ on duty to discuss the local food message.
The show is sponsored by several business sponsors, including Art Kathol Appliance, Husker Ag LLC, Doyle Stevens Construction, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, Autumn Winds Living at Yankton. For the first two years on the air, the program was also supported and studied through a producer grant from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education (SARE) program (www.sare.org). The show has been featured at the Center for Rural Affairs annual gathering and Congressman Jeff Fortenbery’s Local Food Seminar, as well as in several press articles around the region and across the country (See our Pressroom Page). It was named in 2007 as one of the top 11 green food radio programs in the country.
Each program features the life and family story of a local farmer, direct marketer or business that produces, processes and markets local food and farm products through retail outlets, farmers markets or on-farm stores. The show is unique in that it presents each two-minute program as a close-up look into the lives, communities, philosophies and inspiration of families living on the land, caring for their environment and communities. The show promotes local economic development by encouraging area consumers to purchase at least part of their meals from farmers living just down the road. The show encourages the healthy aspects of food "less traveled" and produced in Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa, right here in our own backyard.
Some of the products we feature are organically produced, others are natural food, some are grass finished, grassfed or grass-based, but all are local, produced by folks consumers in our region know and trust.
On the web
Along with the development of the weekly radio program, came the establishment of www.farmtofamily.net – a companion website that compliments the local food and farm product efforts of the radio show. If you don’t remember the phone number or webpage of your favorite family farm direct marketer from the radio show, you can go the website and see all of the featured families from the current month, along with a complete directory including every farm ever featured.
The website includes audio clips and transcripts of each show, photos of farm families, recipes featuring local food, health tips, sustainable farming and local food links and much more. The website currently receives between 1000 and 2000 hits daily, so we know consumers are looking to the web for information on local food.
Out of the radio, web-based local food campaign and support through the USDA SARE program, a new project developed, to study the affects of these marketing tools on the purchasing habits of local consumers. Farm to Family Connection Project gained financial support from a grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2006, with the grant being administered through the Northeast Nebraska Resource Conservation and Development District office in Plainview, Neb.
Sandy Patton is the director of the project, and radio show founder, Curt Arens, is the assistant director. In the fall of 2006, Patton and Arens surveyed local farmers and businesses who had participated in the radio how promotions, as well as farmers market vendors, to see what impact this type of marketing program had on their sales, and to gauge what types of assistance farmers need to enhance direct marketing success.
The initial announcement of the project was published in news releases that were distributed nationwide. After the surveys were tallied, further news releases were developed, to impart the results. (See more resource links below for complete press releases).
In September, 2007, Patton organized a local food dietician's tour, and invited several dieticians from local hospitals and other health care institutions to a meeting at Garrity's Prairie Gardens at Mission Hill, SD. Several local family farmers who direct market their own meat and produce, discussed the potential to supply local institutions with local food at least on a seasonal basis. (See complete proceedings in the resource section below).
Currently, in addition to speaking engagements, display board opportunities to discuss the project overall and work at continuing dialogue between local farmers and local institutions, Patton and Arens, are working on developing a toolkit to assist other organizations, farmers, radio stations and communities in conducting their own local food radio and web-based campaign. These can be ordered beginning in August 2008 by calling the Northeast Nebraska RC&D at 402-582-4866.
More resources and project results (Click on these for more info)
Pressrelease - Farm to Family Connection Project Kicks Off
Pressrelease - Farm to Family Connection Farmer Survey Results
"Making the Connection" Dietician's Tour - Meeting Proceedings