MICRO-FARMING NETWORK PLANS EXPANSION TO NEW MEXICO
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.