The Gulf Today - Business - - SPECIAL REPORT -

SIL­VER CITY: Back­yard gar­den­ers and small-scale farm­ers can band to­gether to reach larger mar­kets and in­crease their sales rev­enue by “Build­ing a Mi­cro­farm­ing Net­work in South­west New Mex­ico” from 8 am to noon on Satur­day, Jan.19, 2019, at the Com­mons in Sil­ver City. The event is free and open to any and all as­pir­ing and cur­rent grow­ers and food pro­duc­ers.

The work­shop is spon­sored by the South­west New Mex­ico Food Hub, a pro­gramme of the Na­tional Cen­ter for Fron­tier Com­mu­ni­ties and funded by the US De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s (USDA) Agri­cul­tural’ s Lo­cal Food Pro­mo­tion Pro­gram.

The SWNM Food Hub is en­ter­ing its sec­ond year of op­er­a­tions. Dur­ing its first year, the Food Hub dis­trib­uted and sold over 10,000 pounds of lo­cally grown pro­duce through­out the state with the money from the sales re­turn­ing to fill the pock­ets of re­gional food pro­duc­ers.

The Food Hub is a new mar­ket out­let for re­gional grow­ers to reach both lo­cal and statewide mar­kets. The Hub of­fers train­ing, co­or­di­na­tion, ag­gre­ga­tion and good pric­ing for lo­cal grow­ers. The Grow­ers Guide is a re­gion-spe­cific re­source for grow­ers of all stages and sizes to ac­cess lo­cally ap­pro­pri­ate in­for­ma­tion on pro­duc­tion, mar­ket­ing, plan­ning and run­ning a food, ranch or farm busi­ness in SWNM. Come and learn how to use this valu­able guide and how to tap into the Food Hub to make your farm or ranch busi­ness grow suc­cess­ful.

The Food Hub’s project spe­cial­ist, Ben Ras­mussen says, “A ma­jor­ity of our sales have been to Al­bu­querque and Santa Fe, but we reach lo­cal mar­kets in the south­west in­clud­ing re­tail, res­tau­rants, schools, cater­ers, and churches.”

With the ac­qui­si­tion this win­ter of a new van, the Food Hub plans to ex­pand qual­i­ties of pro­duce it can dis­trib­ute and trans­port to larger and more di­verse mar­kets.

Last year, the Food Hub sold south­west re­gion­ally grown pro­duce to 17 dif­fer­ent mar­ket venues. The Hub has saved its par­tic­i­pat­ing 13 small-scale grow­ers over 25,000 miles of travel by con­sol­i­dat­ing trans­porta­tion costs, thus sav­ing pro­duc­ers travel time and costs while in­creas­ing the grow­ers’ prof­its.

Ras­mussen says, “This way the grow­ers can spend their time do­ing what they do best-- grow­ing food-- while the Hub al­lows them to reach mar­kets pre­vi­ously outof-reach and in­crease their sales rev­enue while cut­ting costs.”

At the work­shop re­gional pro­duc­ers can learn about the Food Hub’s ex­pand­ing busi­ness model and how they can par­tic­i­pate. Ras­mussen said, “We are look­ing to po­ten­tially launch a food hub di­rect to con­sumers sales and ex­pand to sell dry goods, gro­cery and value-added pro­duces.”

The Food Hub can help in­ter­ested grow­ers scale their op­er­a­tions with price list­ing to larger mar­kets, prod­ucts mar­kets have the most in­ter­est in and co­or­di­nated har­vests so small-scale grow­ers gain a share of orders by larger mar­kets.

As part of NCFC’S USDA funded Lo­cal Food Pro­mo­tion Pro­gramme that be­gan in Oc­to­ber 2016, they have of­fi­cially launched the South­west New Mex­ico Food Hub to serve as an ag­gre­ga­tor, mar­keter, dis­trib­u­tor and con­sul­tant to food pro­duc­ers in South­west New Mex­ico.

Their goal is twofold: To help any and all agri­cul­tural food busi­nesses reach their goals through pro­vid­ing a re­li­able, stream­lined mar­ket out­let to help our fron­tier grow­ers reach mar­kets both within the re­gion and through­out the state.

And to help buy­ers around the state ac­cess fresh, lo­cal food year round with­out has­sle.

Are look­ing to start or ex­pand your food busi­ness? Are you look­ing for ad­di­tional mar­ket out­lets? Do you need con­sul­ta­tion re­lat­ing to food safety, busi­ness plan­ning, ac­quir­ing cap­i­tal or ef­fec­tively mar­ket­ing your prod­ucts ? Please give us a call at 575-654-5130 or email us here to learn more.

LFPP Fund­ing for Co­mida Buena was made pos­si­ble by the US De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s (USDA) Agri­cul­tural Mar­ket­ing Ser­vice through grant. Con­tents are solely the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the au­thors and do not nec­es­sar­ily rep­re­sent the of­fi­cial views of the USDA.

The Na­tional Cen­ter for Fron­tier Com­mu­ni­ties (NCFC) is a non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that pro­vides na­tional lead­er­ship and builds col­lab­o­ra­tion on is­sues im­por­tant to fron­tier com­mu­ni­ties. NCFC gives a voice to peo­ple and pro­grams in fron­tier com­mu­ni­ties and raises aware­ness of fron­tier is­sues to pol­icy mak­ers, agen­cies, and the pub­lic.

Head­quar­tered in Sil­ver City, NM, NCFC serves as a cen­tral point of con­tact for re­fer­rals, in­for­ma­tion ex­change, and net­work­ing among geo­graph­i­cally sep­a­rated com­mu­ni­ties.

Mean­while from squash and pep­pers to cau­li­flower and spinach, cool weather con­di­tions in Oc­to­ber through June cre­ate ideal con­di­tions for grow­ing a va­ri­ety of crops.

Hope for Small Farm­ing Sus­tain­abil­ity, a non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion in Har­lin­gen, is seek­ing par­tic­i­pants for its up­com­ing free farm­ing busi­ness classes, where par­tic­i­pants can learn the es­sen­tials of own­ing and op­er­at­ing their own or­ganic farm.

Classes be­gin on Jan.14. Each class will be three hours long and will be held three times a week for a to­tal of six weeks. Par­tic­i­pants will learn a mul­ti­tude of farm­ing skills in each class, such as learn­ing about ir­ri­gation sys­tems and how to in­stall them, how to use a tiller, the im­por­tance of soil and how to make rows, how to plant seeds and trans­plants, how to make com­post, and how to make a chicken coop.

The ma­jor­ity of classes will be held in the field so par­tic­i­pants must be able to par­tic­i­pate in all types of weather con­di­tions.

Ad­di­tion­ally, stu­dents will need weather spe­cific cloth­ing, such as a rain­coat and boots. San Ben­ito res­i­dent Norma Mendez was a par­tic­i­pant in the non­profit’s first Mi­cro-farm­ing Busi­ness Class.

See­ing fam­ily mem­bers ex­pe­ri­ence ill­nesses mo­ti­vated Mendez to take the classes and learn how to grow health­ier food for her­self, fam­ily, neigh­bors and the com­mu­nity in gen­eral.

“We learned from books, videos and hands-on prac­tice so I feel like I’m ready to start work­ing on ev­ery­thing I’ve learned,” Mendez said with ex­cite­ment.

HOPE for Small Farm­ing Sus­tain­abil­ity Owner and Op­er­a­tor Di­ana Padilla said her goal is to get more peo­ple in­volved with or­ganic pro­duc­tion and to help them cre­ate small busi­nesses.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple who don’t have an in­come to be­come en­trepreneurs on a smallscale,” Padilla ex­plained. “You don’t need to have a big in­vest­ment or a bil­lion dol­lars. You need labour and your own skills.

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