; Adding Value to the Sustainable Farm | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Adding Value to the Sustainable Farm

Brian Kelly


While adding value to agricultural products is often promoted as a viable way for farmers to earn more money from their commodity crop and increase profitability. Many farmers are wary of investing in value-added processing. Farmers are often unsure of their ability to sell their product. So, they never pursue value-added processing. Since they never have a value-added product to sell, they never know if they can successfully sell it.

The Collaborative For 21st Century Appalachia partnered with Penn State Extension and nine farmers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania in a SARE “Appalachia Initiative Grant.” The Grant provided farmers with product development and marketing assistance. In addition, it provided funds to grow a crop for value-added processing. These funds were used to off-set the processing costs, so the farmers had a product to market with little personal investment.

Many value-added products were made and marketed including: dilly (pickled) beans, applesauce, pumpkin syrup, sweet onion and garlic jelly, and spaghetti sauce made from Polish Linguisa Tomatoes. Those farmers, with an established market, learned they could easily sell their value-added product. In fact, some sold out within a month or two. One grower’s market is a local grocery store chain. By leveraging their store connections and capitalizing on the interest in “locally grown,” they are working to place their value-added product into grocery stores. While there was success, the grant also showed product selection and pricing to be important factors in determining success.

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