This project prepared small-scale farmers interested in developing new marketing relationships with hospitals, child care center, nursing homes and universities. These businesses are interested in acquiring local products but find it difficult to find growers with commercial business skills needed to supply their demand. The institutional buyers' requirements were compiled from personal interviews into a marketing manual. In addition to the buyers' survey summary, the manual includes procurement methods, packing, quality assurance, GAPs, certifications, and marketing strategies. The marketing information was presented in eight workshops helping small-scale farmers develop the business skills and marketing plans to meet the requirements of these institutional buyers. To supplement the workshops, farmers had an opportunity for one-on-one meetings from Carolina Farm Steward Association to develop their marketing plans.
As part of the project we surveyed 26 institutional buyers collecting requirements and procedures of several different potential markets. From the survey data collected we learned many institutions are interested in buying local products but the policies and requirement of several of the markets are very difficult for many small farmers to achieve. Day care centers and some extended care facilities may be potential markets for small farmers.