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Impacts on Local Food Sourcing

After the programme launch, the project team developed a programme logo, website and curricula for grower and chef workshops. To measure the impact of programme activities on decreasing barriers to local sourcing for growers and chefs, a comprehensive programme evaluation plan, including retrospective post activity and annual follow-up surveys, was conducted.

Educational workshops

From 2013 to 2015, nine grower workshops and chef workshops were held across Utah. Over 150 growers and 60 chefs participated in these workshops, representing 18 Utah counties and three surrounding states.

Workshop evaluations analysed through paired-sample f-tests indicated that, as a result of workshop attendance, the overall post-workshop score on growers’ confidence in performing a selection of marketing activities was significantly higher (series average = 3.68, SE = 0.11) than the overall confidence score prior to the workshop (series average = 2.50, SE = 0.18) (see Table 14.1). All grower participants also listed an increased intention to implement various marketing activities, such as developing a delivery plan and preparing a list of product prices, as a result of workshop attendance (see Table 14.2). Growers (80%) anticipated sale amounts to restaurants ranging from $50 to over $1000 per week. Also, over 88% of growers anticipated sourcing to between one and ten restaurants annually.

Chefs showed similar results following the one-day workshops, as paired- sample f-tests indicated that the overall post-workshop score on chefs’ confidence in performing a series of activities was significantly higher (series average = 3.77, SE = 0.20) than the overall confidence score prior to the workshop (series average = 2.42, SE = 0.19) (see Table 14.3). Additionally, 62% of chef participants said they would complete a number of marketing activities within six months of the workshop, including developing delivery and payment procedures; highlighting locally sourced products and their growers on table tents and restaurant windows; and developing food safety, insurance and/or production method (organic, grass-fed, etc.) requirements (see Table 14.4). Approximately 71% indicated that they would increase the percentage of their restaurant ingredients sourced locally as a result of the workshop.

The following quotes from two chefs who attended the workshops perhaps best illustrate the impact of the programme:

The most critical hurdle to overcome in our effort towards building a sustainable infrastructure between local producers/artisans and chefs has, in my experience, been communication. As we have laboured to make those connections on our own, it has become apparent to our team that we needed more help. Someone who has a vested interest in strengthening the fabric of our food community but isn’t directly involved with the day to day operations of running a farm or a restaurant. How lucky we now are to have the Farm-Chef-Fork programme and those at Utah State who are concerned about the same issues we are and are willing to help find solutions to the problems we are facing. I was honoured to represent my company this past week in sharing our experiences buying locally, supporting those in our community and the benefits that our company has seen as a result of this effort. I have no doubt that the Farm-Chef-Fork programme can go on to play a crucial role in bringing our community together thereby allowing all of us to benefit from the shared efforts of each other. I look forward to continued support of this program and the positive outcome I know it can bring.

We are a food truck and catering company in Salt Lake City, Utah, and we specialize in seasonal handcrafted street food. UT Farm-Chef-Fork provides

Table 14.1. Grower respondent pre- and post-workshop confidence results.

Pre-workshop

Post-workshop

Activity

M

SD

M

SD

t

df

P

Cohen’s d

Knowing the best time of day to call on a new chef contact

2.55

1.35

4.21

0.7

7.71

32

0

1.57

Knowing which restaurants in my area want to source locally

2.29

1.19

3.76

0.99

7.94

33

0

1.36

Knowing what chefs need to know about my farm/business

2.35

1.23

4.03

0.72

8.72

33

0

1.69

Understanding the nature of restaurant business

2.79

1.32

3.76

0.7

5.35

33

0

1.99

Understanding the needs of restaurant business

2.73

1.26

3.73

0.8

5.93

32

0

1.8

Understanding the quantities chefs will purchase

2.33

1.11

3.18

0.95

6.13

32

0

1.28

Ability to meet the quantities chefs will require

2.12

1.14

3.03

1.1

5.51

32

0

0.84

Understanding the delivery methods preferred by chefs

2.28

1.22

3.28

1.09

5.25

31

0

0.91

Understanding the variety of produce required by chefs

2.58

1.18

3.45

1.09

5.07

30

0

0.76

Ability to meet consistency required by chefs

2.39

1.14

3.36

1.05

6.07

32

0

0.88

Understanding the level of commitment needed to supply chefs

2.69

1.18

4.03

0.97

6.6

31

0

1.29

Understanding how to price my products when selling to chefs

2.15

1.25

3.88

0.7

9.55

32

0

1.73

Continued

Table 14.1. Continued.

Pre-workshop

Post-workshop

Activity

M

SD

M

SD

t

df

P

Cohen’s d

Understanding the billing process of restaurants

2.33

1.29

3.85

0.83

6.95

32

0

1.42

Understanding the best medium for communicating with chefs

2.24

1.15

3.88

0.7

2.04

32

0

1.75

Understanding the information chefs need on an on-going basis

2.33

1.19

3.88

0.74

8.35

32

0

1.59

Understanding of the speciality items chefs will require

2.31

1.28

3.28

1.02

5.16

31

0

0.85

Knowing the expectation of the restaurant’s customers

2.44

1.29

3.47

0.98

5.66

31

0

0.91

Note: Confidence was measured on a Likert scale: 1 (not at all confident), 2 (slightly confident), 3 (neutral), 4 (very confident) and 5 (completely confident).

important communication channels between the farm and us (the chefs), and the consumer. Local food practices NEED to grow in order to sustain not only our community/economy, but our Earth. This training was a great way to meet those farmers face-to-face and develop a level of understanding and trust, and build further the relationships that will continue throughout time. We have placed local food as a staple and priority in our business plan, and will continue to reach out and obtain product from several farms within the area.

Workshop follow-up evaluations conducted with grower attendees online (SurveyMonkey) one year following the workshops found that 42% of the participants had increased the number and range of products grown as well as their local sales. Sixty-six per cent had expanded their customer base, 58% had increased their land use and 17% had increased the number of marketing outlets used. Almost half (50%) felt their operation was more economically viable, and 19% felt their operation was more efficient, while 62% and 83% felt their quality of life and their community had improved, respectively.

Grower attendees indicated their level of confidence with 12 of 18 skills related to marketing their locally grown produce to chefs or restaurants was relatively high (rated a 3 or higher on a 5-point Likert scale, where 1 = not at all confident and 5 = completely confident). The highest ranked skills were ‘knowing the best time of day to call on a new chef’ (M = 3.5, SD = 1.06) and ‘understanding what chefs need to know about their farm/business’ (M = 3.5, SD = 0.74).

Table 14.2. Grower respondent intention to complete future activities.

Activity M SD

Develop value-added products (salsa, breads, jam, etc.)

3.44

1.54

Develop partnerships with other growers to ensure

3.32

1.34

consistency in supply

Prepare sample recipes for chefs

3.31

1.45

Prepare a joint marketing plan with the restaurants I supply

3.27

1.2

Investigate my competitors’ competitive advantage

3.07

1.44

Develop a delivery plan

2.88

1.36

Establish a food safety plan

2.68

1.08

Develop a marketing plan for supply chefs

2.66

1.31

Prepare a list of produce prices

2.58

1.26

Prepare a script for approaching new chef contacts

2.5

1.38

Approach chefs/restaurants to initiate sales

2.44

1.21

Prepare produce samples for chefs

2.41

1.29

Make a list of chefs I want to approach

2.36

1.25

Differentiate my produce from my competitors’

2.35

1.33

Develop a social media site

2.34

1.31

Prepare a list of seasonal availability

2.3

1.19

Prepare a list of potential produce availability

2.24

1.17

Use season extension technology (hoop houses, etc.)

2.17

1.58

Develop a website

2.13

1.31

Eat at restaurants I plan to approach

2.09

1.49

Establish a system to ensure my produce is fresh

2.06

1.4

when delivered

Note: Intention was measured on a Likert scale: 1 (already doing it), 2 (done in 3 months), 3 (done in 6 months), 4 (done in 12 months) and 5 (will not implement).

On the follow-up evaluations, growers were asked to describe what they felt to be the primary factors that contributed to the achievements made by them and others as a result of participating in the programme. Comments from various participants included:

I was able to get an agreed weekly delivery to one restaurant and occasional to four others; this is mostly a result of having lists of interested restaurants and learning ice-breaking techniques for approaching chefs.

I gained a better understanding of what chefs need and how to communicate with them.

The workshop opened my mind to many potential challenges and possibilities as I move forward building our farm.

I learned how to approach restaurants for the first time, learned about current Farm to Table operations in the area and what they charge or how they value their products, resource and networking from the programme that helped me with current ideas.

When asked to identify economic, social and environmental benefits that resulted from their participation in the workshops, comments from various participants included:

Table 14.3. Chef respondent pre- and post-workshop confidence results.

Pre-workshop

Post-workshop

Activity

M

SD

M

SD

t

df

P

Cohen’s d

Contacting a local farm for the first time

2.64

0.93

4

0.68

6.82

13

0

1.73

Knowing the best time of day to make a new contact

2.47

0.99

3.53

1.06

4

13

0.001

1.07

Knowing which farms in my area sell locally

2.43

1.15

3.71

0.91

5.83

13

0

1.28

Understanding what farmers need to know about my restaurant/customers

2.27

0.8

3.8

0.78

7.12

14

0

2

Understanding the seasonal production capabilities/ growing conditions in Utah

2.8

1.08

3.6

1.06

4.58

14

0

0.77

Understanding the needs of local farmers

2.13

0.74

3.6

0.63

8.88

14

0

2.21

Note: Confidence was measured on a Likert scale: 1 (not at all confident), 2 (slightly confident), 3 (neutral), 4 (very confident) and 5 (completely confident).

I am able to approach new marketing opportunities, chefs with confidence. I will be able to convert this skill into cash flow next season.

I think we will save a lot of money in the long run by being better prepared.

The income from restaurant sales far exceeds farmers markets

I have expanded the number and variety of crops that we are growing and used techniques that allow us to extend our growing season. It has definitely benefited our own family’s table.

My increased knowledge of local food production and the exciting possibilities this presents.

 
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