Small farmers and ranchers, beginning and value-added producers presently face immense barriers to achieving financial viability. This is exhibited in the disconnect between southeast Wisconsin farmers striving for economic sustainability and the experience and resources necessary to develop markets and diversify revenue.
This project evaluated the varied consumer, chef and institutional needs of the SE Wisconsin region which comprises nearly one-third of the state’s population. In doing so, the project team partnered with the Economic Development Partner's Food To Market initiative to complete a gaps and assets mapping analysis of the local foods economy in Southeast Wisconsin.
The personalized information and resources generated from this project was infused into workshops and individual correspondence with 20 small-scale and beginning producers. The resources and information shared informed these target producers about potential market opportunities and techniques for evaluating how to enter those markets profitably, increasing diversification and sustainability. Beyond a focus on increased economic viability, this project also encouraged producers to prepare for and participate in a more formalized local foods economy by pairing similar regional producers in focus groups to assess and collaborate on specific action steps.