RAFI-USA’s Farmers of Color Network will host a series of webinars intended to provide insights for farmers interested in learning and preparing to work with wholesale, restaurant, food market, and institutional buyers. This 5-part series will focus on fundamental considerations for farmers seeking to expand their market reach. This series will cover these main topics over the course of the year:
- Wholesale Readiness (see video below)
- GAP and Organic Certification (see video below)
- Farm to School/Institutional Buying
- How to become a SNAP/EBT Retailer
- Working Within Collective or Collaborative
As the visibility of farmers of color continues to rise, this webinar series seeks to equip farmers with the information and steps necessary for market readiness, whether they are beginning or experienced.
Webinars will occur in April, June, August and October and will be recorded and made available on our website shortly following the events for those unable to attend.
SESSION TWO: GAP/WHOLESALE READINESS
The second installment of our Market Readiness Series focused on GAP/Organic Certification was held on April 28, 6-7:30 PM. The webinar featured Kim Butz, SC Local Produce Safety Coordinator at Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and a panel of farmers with experience in GAP and Organic certification, as well as farmers Bernard Obie of Abanitu Organics and Patrick Brown of Brown Family Farms.
See video from the event below:
Kim Butz, South Carolina Local Produce Safety Coordinator at Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
Kim Butz has a passion for all things food and farming and she focuses on teaching farmers about the importance of food safety while supporting them throughout their GAP certification process. Her education, training, and experience have been in sustainable and organic farming practices. She grew up submerged in agriculture, has 25 years of food service experience, managed a 90-acre diversified produce farm, and taught food safety on and off for the last 12 years. As the SC Local Produce Safety Coordinator at Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, she provides training and technical assistance to operators of diversified farms. She helps farmers to be prepared and successful in audit and inspection for those seeking USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Good Handling Practices (GHP), Harmonized GAP Certification (HGAP), and FDA Produce Safety Rule.
SESSION ONE: WHOLESALE READINESS
The first installment, Wholesale Readiness, was held on February 22, 2022 from 6-8 PM. During this session, farmers heard from a regional wholesale supplier, Fresh Point, on what steps farmers should take to be equipped to sell to wholesale buyers. Participants also heard from farmers and their experiences with wholesale and restaurant vendors and challenges and successes they have encountered.
See video from the event below:
The webinar featured:
FreshPoint is a produce distributor that primarily services foodservice accounts, such as restaurants, universities, hospitals, hotels, corporate dining, etc., as well as some retailers. We seek to partner with more small and mid-sized farms and assist with wholesale readiness for the food system.
Patrick Brown, Brown Family Farms
Patrick Brown is farming on land that his family has owned for generations in a small community called Hecks Grove in southeastern Warren County, North Carolina. The farm was established by Brown’s great grandfather, Byron C. Brown in 1865. Brown’s grandfather, Grover Brown, and father, Rev. Dr. Arthur A. Brown, all farmed the land, raising livestock, and growing vegetables, grain, and tobacco. Patrick took over the farm after graduating from Fayetteville State University and travelling the world as a federal contractor. Brown Family Farms’ mission is to help provide an alternative, holistic solution to customers, naturally, by processing and manufacturing carbon neutral plants like industrial hemp, natural herbs, and organic vegetables. Patrick is also intent on helping other farmers, especially minority farmers like himself, learn how to utilize their land for the good of the soil and atmosphere; planting and harvesting products that are regenerative, sustainable, environmentally friendly, and healthy for human consumption.
Millard Locklear, New Ground Farms
New Ground Farm LLC was established in 2015 by Millard and Connie Locklear.
New Ground Farm LLC is operated by a fifth-generation farm family. The farm offers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables along with culinary and medicinal herbs. It is all grown locally on 26 acres of irrigated land by Millard and Connie Locklear. Their produce is available at a stand on the farm site on Alvin Road, at local Farmer’s Market, through community supported agriculture.
Millard began raising blackberries, blueberries and vegetables on a small scale in 2009. He retired from DuPont in 2015 and has expanded his blackberry, blueberry and vegetable crop. The farm is in the process of becoming organic certified, although it currently follows organic procedures and HGAP (Harmonized Good Agriculture Practices farm certified in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021) guidelines.
Vegetables grown include a host of spring greens such as collards, kale, turnip, mustard greens, broccoli, and cabbages (Chinese, purple, and green). These are rotated in the fall as well. In the summer months, New Ground offers a host of choices as well, including heirloom tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, okra, Crowder peas, butter beans, sweet potatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplants, onions, cucumbers and sweet corn. Herbs are also available: rosemary, oregano, chamomile, chives, basil and yarrow.
Since its founding in 1990, RAFI-USA has recognized that our food system is deeply inequitable, where rural communities — their land, animals and people — are exploited to benefit corporate power structures. Working across agricultural sectors and collaboratively through coalitions, RAFI-USA combines on–the-ground practical services and policy advocacy to ensure farmers have access to the tools they need to make the right choices for their farm and families as well as for their communities and the environment. For an overview of RAFI-USA’s integrated programs, please visit the website’s Programs page.
RAFI-USA challenges the root causes of unjust food systems, supporting and advocating for economically, racially, and ecologically just farm communities. We envision a thriving, sustainable, and equitable food system: Where farmers and farmworkers have dignity and agency; where they are supported by just agricultural policies; where corporations and institutions are accountable to their community.
About the Farmers of Color Network:
FOCN develops relationships with farmers of color in order to support and honor multi-generational organizing, sustainable agricultural practices, and ancestral traditions and knowledge. FOCN provides farmer-led technical assistance, offers funding opportunities, and hosts networking events and gatherings to expand market access.