Topic outline

    Module 4: Agricultural and Marketing Skills

    The successful transition from the soil of the farm to the consumers table requires both agricultural and marketing skills. In Module 4 we discuss the (a) market demands and (b) the options for sustainable farm produce being sent to markets, restaurants or community supported agriculture (CSA) programs.   We also discuss the foundations of food safety standards that certify our food is grown and handled properly.   

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    Lesson 1.  Hawaii grown produce

    There is a growing demand for farm produce in the state of Hawaii.  For example, from 2009 to 2010 the value of vegetable and melon production grew by 25%.  Read through the Hawaii agriculture 2010 statistics page to get an idea about what other products are in demand in Hawaii.  The LINK will take you to the stats page.  Pay special attention to the “seed crop” industry.

    seed crop

    Did you notice that the seed crops industry is almost four times more profitable than the 2nd ranked flower and nursery products category?

    Discussion Questions:

    Based on the Hawaii agricultural statistics report, is there any commodity (i.e. a product of agricuture) increase or demand that surprised you?  Post your thoughts in th discussion forum.

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    Lesson 2. Hawaii farm production

    It is always a difficult task to determine if farms are producing the proper quantity of produce for the local and trade community.  A good measure of success for local producers are the amount of public and state support which they receive.  Browse through Slow Food Hawaii website to get an idea about public support and local food markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs and restaurants in Hawaii. 

    Another resource that aids marketing of local produce is the Hawaii Homegrown network, which provides information regarding CSA programs and farmers markets throughout the State.  

    Watch this video that illustrates why eating locally grown food is important. 

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    Lesson 3. Plant nutrients

    Before a farm can sell their goods to stores and restaurants, it is necessary that the farm follows, and is certified for proper food safety standards.   Food safety is a very important aspect of farming, and is absolutely imperative to the success of farm marketing and sales. 

    Food safety is a complicated topic with many variables to consider in the processes of growing, harvesting, packing, storing and shipping. Below is a list of the main culprits for food contamination on a farm. 

    Sources of Potential On-Farm Contanamination

    Here is a link to a checklist farmers can use to address the potential danger of contamination and audit the level of food safety on their own farm. 

    Once the farmer has reviewed the checklist and determined what areas of food safety are lacking, they can refer to this publication to learn the steps to achieve proper safety standards.  

     Discussion questions:

    Choose one video from the farm food safety videos contained in this LINK and describe in the discussion forum something inportant you learned about food saftety.  Share why it is important.  

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    Lesson 4. Pest and weed control

    Growing and operating your farm sustainably and organically is a responsible choice for the environment and for the people who eat the food you grow and live around your property.  By doing this, a farmer minimizes everyone’s exposure to chemicals and helps keep the ecosystem in balance. 

    If a farmer wants to market their produce as organic, there is a certification process.  You can learn more about that process by clicking the USDA logo below.

    USA Logo

    Organic certification under the USDA National Organic Program is voluntary and once a farm is certified organic they will have an annual on-site inspection to maintain certification. 

    Along with the organic certification, it is beneficial for farmers to demonstrate to their customers that they are practicing proper food safety and handling procedures.  In Hawaii, the University of Hawaii offers a food safety certification to local farms.  Browse this LINK to familiarize yourself with the Hawaii farm food safety procedures.  

    Once a farm passes the food safety audit, they are able to use this label which indicates that they are following the proper food handling and safety procedures necessary to minimize risk if transmitting harmful bacteria to consumers.

    Food Safety Certified

    Today more than ever, food safety certifications are recognized by the industry and the consumers.  It is a wise step for farms to acquire this certification to allow local farms and local produce to be competitive with large international mega-farms.

    Browse this LINK to read some of the food safety sickness outbreaks in the last year. 

    After reading the news on foodborne illness, you can see the importance of food safety certifications.

    On the other hand, there are opponents to food safety certifications.  Some think that the certifications create yet another hurdle for small farms to overcome, in an already difficult industry.  Watch the video below to see the opposing argument of food safety certifications. 

    Discussion questions:

    Do you ever feel concerned eating vegetables from the grocery store?  Do the recent "outbreaks" of E. Coli and salmonellosis worry you?  Post your thoughts in the discussion forum.