FAYETTEVILLE — Food growers and entrepreneurs looking to break into local foods markets can attend a series of workshops by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“Keep it Local! Creating and Marketing Value-Added Products” workshops will focus on the skills, information and creativity needed to turn a food concept into commercial food products in local foods systems, said Renee Threlfall, Division of Agriculture research scientist.
“These workshops are designed to extend our knowledge on value-added foods to growers and entrepreneurs while increasing the potential for the local food industry in Arkansas,” Threlfall said.
The workshops will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in three locations in Arkansas:
• Oct. 4 at the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service State Office, 2301 S. University, Little Rock;
• Oct. 15 at the Division of Agriculture’s Food Science Building on the Arkansas Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 2650 N. Young Ave. in Fayetteville; and
• Oct 25 at the Foodbank of Northeast Arkansas, 3414 Once Place, Jonesboro.
Registration is required and limited to 50 participants at each location, Threlfall said. A $10 registration fee covers all materials and lunch.
The workshops are based on “Keep It Local,” a multi-disciplinary project of the Division of Agriculture and the U of A’s Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.
Eunjoo Cho, assistant professor in the School of Human Environmental Sciences in Bumpers College and Threlfall lead the project team that also includes Heather Friedrich, division horticulture project manager, and Michael Thomsen, professor of agricultural economics for the Division of Agriculture and Bumpers College. The team has also partnered with the National Center for Approporiate Technology.
All four team members will participate in leading the workshops.
“Keep It Local” focuses on reducing production and marketing risks faced by small and beginning value-added food producers in Arkansas, Cho said.
“Value-added foods provide an alternative for farmers and entrepreneurs to extend market reach and increase income,” Threlfall said. “Marketing skills enable producers to convey information about their business or products that atracts consumers to their products.”
Threlfalls said the project generates content to help advance local food systems by:
• Empowering underserved farmers and entrepreneurs to pursue value-added food production,
• Facilitating effective branding strategies, and
• Expanding marketing opportunities for value-added producers.
“We are excited to host “Keep It Local” workshops in Arkansas,” Cho said. “The workshops will provide the opportunity to share our knowledge on value-added, local foods processing and development of marketing strategies using storytelling with growers and entrepreneurs.”
Online registration for the workshops and more information is available online at https://afic.uark.edu/keep-it-local/
“Keep it Local” workshops are sponsored by a grant from the Southern Extension Risk Management Education Program.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.
— Fred Miller is with the U of A System Division of Agriculture.