Current & Past SWMN Special Projects

Values-Based Supply Chains Research

The SWMN, through Jim Dyer of Healthy Community Food Systems, has been involved with a research project with Colorado State University, UC Davis, and others to identify issues and keys to success for maintaining values associated with food products as they move through supply chains that are designed to maintain those values from small and medium scale growers to the end users.  More final results are expected soon, but this initial summary of findings presents information that should be very useful to those in our region who are involved in, or are considering, distribution systems of any sort including food hubs, Farm to School, co-ops, and involvement in more conventional distribution systems.


There are several key findings, but one in particular has to do with how the function of promoting the values that need to be preserved through the supply chain is handled relative to the distribution function.  One model in California that will be presented in the upcoming final report involves a nonprofit that promotes the brand and the small farmers which is linked with a for-profit distributor that moves the product.  There appear to be some key advantages of this model in terms of expertise and funding that would be wise to consider.


Click here to see the full report or the summary: "Developing Values-Based Distribution Networks to Enhance the Prosperity of Small and Medium Sized Producers, California Case Studies.", Feenstra, Gail, David Visher and Shermain Hardesty. 2011.


Organic Supply and Market Analysis in the Four Corners

Project Plan: Initially, there was no clear understanding of certified organic product supply in the Four Corners region, or of the opportunities for specific certified organic product market development within the region or beyond. A team of us from the states of Arizona (Russ Tronstad), Colorado ( Jim Dyer, Katy Pepinsky, and Dennis Lamm), New Mexico (Pam Roy and Le Adams) and Utah (Seth Winterton and Robert Newhall) along with some external experts (Nessa Richman and Lydia Oberholtzer) led a research project funded by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (WSARE) program. The project, titled "Supply and Market Analysis for Organic Producers in the Four Corner States," focused on developing a better understanding of the regionally-grown certified organic product market in the Four Corners states.


Specifically, the project hoped to evaluate the market potential for certified organic products from the region through a survey of certified organic producers in the region and a targeted series of expert interviews. We hoped to answer supply-side questions including: What is being grown? How are products being marketed? and What value-added and collective initiatives hold the most potential? On the demand side, we wanted to find answers to questions like: What regional products do regional consumers wish to buy? What premiums are they willing to pay? and Where do consumers prefer to make their certified organic product purchases?


For project outcomes, see our Organic Survey Report page.


Extension Agents as Marketing "First Responders"

As part of a two-year grant from the Western SARE program, workshops held at the 2006 and 2007 SWMN Annual Conferences were aimed at exploring how to help Extension field agents - especially those without special expertise in marketing - respond to inquiries from producers about alternative marketing. Over 50 agents discussed the difficulties of providing this assistance while they are spread so thin across their respective regions, but agreed that such assistance is very much in demand.


With help from marketing specialists and veteran agents, the group began the task of identifying some of the most effective techniques for "first responders"- field agents who typically provide the first critical guidance to their producer clients. Work was begun as well on identifying the resources and experts from the region that agents can refer their clients to for more in-depth assistance.


Results of this project can be found on our Resources for Agents page.