Workshop Series

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Do you have an idea for a new food business? Have you been growing or making food for friends and family and want to take it to the next level? Have you been working for a food business, but you want to be better prepared to take on a decision-making role?

We can help!

Sessions are open to anyone and free to attend! PLUS, if you self identify as BIPOC or low-income, or if you need interpretation into English, you are eligible to get:

  • $30 – $60 per workshop
  • Interpretation and/or translation
  • Up to five hours of free one-on-one coaching on any topic(s) of your choice

Session I - Summer 2023 - Local Farms & Markets

Session I – Summer 2023 – Local Farms & Markets

Growing Produce in the Pioneer Valley – Tuesday, June 13

Tuesday June 13, 3:30-5pm
Prospect Meadow Farm, 103A Prospect St, Hatfield, MA

Farming in the Valley takes a careful mix of planning, experimentation, hard work, and reflection. Join veteran farmer Dave Jackson for a tour of Prospect Meadow Farm to learn what you should be thinking about when it comes to planting, growing, and harvesting produce in the Pioneer Valley.

Attracting Customers to your Farm Stand or Market Booth – Tuesday, June 20

Tuesday, June 20, 5-6:30pm
Grow Food Northampton Tuesday Market, 1 Kirkland Ave, Northampton, MA
The way fresh produce is presented and arranged has a huge impact on market sales. How you engage with your customers plays a major role in whether your customers come back. Join this walkthrough tour of Grow Food Northampton’s Tuesday Market and learn how to display, store, and restock produce, as well as how to engage customers while they shop. This will be an interactive group session including a guided tour of the market, conversation with the market manager and vendors, and the opportunity to discuss and reflect on practices you could implement for your own display.

Choosing a Food Business Model – Tuesday, June 27

Tuesday June 27, 6:00-7:30pm
Zoom (call-in info provided upon registration)

Do you want to start a food business, but need help choosing a legal business structure? There are many options available and every situation is unique. Hear from a panel of successful local food business owners about how their business structure works and why they chose it. This session will help you understand the difference between a fiscal sponsorship, a cooperative business, a nonprofit, a for-profit, and a sole proprietorship. Panelists are:

Session II - Fall 2023 - Starting, Growing, and Managing a Food Business

Session II – Fall 2023 – Starting, Growing, and Managing a Food Business

Setting Goals for a Food Business

Wednesday October 18th, 6-7:30pm online 

Whether you’re starting, growing, or taking on a leadership role in a food business, you get to define what you want your success to look like. Join Stevie Schafenacker, independent farm and food business advisor, for an interactive online workshop about different approaches to goal setting for food businesses. We’ll talk about how to set goals that help you stay focused on what you want to achieve.

Developing a Business Plan

Tuesday October 24th, 6-7:30pm online 

Are you ready to turn your food business dream into a plan? Come learn about how to research, estimate, and pull together all the pieces of a business plan in this online workshop presented by Stevie Schafenacker, independent farm and food business advisor. We’ll spend most of our time focusing on creating a plan that’s by you and for you, but we’ll also talk about components of a business plan that are essential to applying for funding.

Making a Value-Added Food Product: The Essentials

Wednesday November 8th, 6-7:30pm online 

Looking to take local produce and turn it into jam, salsa, or something else? This workshop is for you. Join the folks from the Massachusetts Agriculture Innovation Center and the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center for an overview of what it takes to make a value-added food product. We’ll cover some food safety basics, options for where to make your product, and an overview of regulatory requirements and licensing.

Running a Food Business from your Home

Wednesday November 15th, 6-7:30 online

Yes, you can run a food business out of your own home kitchen! Bri Dupras from Franklin Regional Council of Governments will cover the MA cottage industry food laws, and talk about how to get your home kitchen certified. We’ll also cover how you can sell foods you make at home and which permits you need.

Session III - Winter 2024 - Sustaining a Food Business

Session III – Winter 2024 – Sustaining a Food Business

Register for a workshop!

Finding Funding for Farm and Food Businesses

Wednesday March 13th 5:30-7pm, online. 

John Waite from the Franklin County Community Development Corporation will give us an overview of the funding landscape for farms and food businesses. We will talk about the roles of different funding sources in your business planning, and introduce local lenders who are excited to work with early stage farms and food businesses. CISA staff will also give an introduction to grants for farmers (and we’ll talk about one of the few grant opportunities for non-farm businesses too).

Connecting with Customers

Wednesday March 20th 5:30-7pm, online. Register here before March 14th

 Knowing who your customers are and what is important to them is the foundation of marketing your business. Join Sara Esthus from Homegrown Studio for an introductory workshop where we will cover how to identify your customer groups and how you can strengthen your marketing by creating a deeper connection with them. You will learn new techniques for building a customer-focused marketing strategy to help inspire your customers to invest in your business.

Business Basics: Getting Started 

Tuesday March 26th 5:30-7pm, online. Register here before March 20th

How do you set up a new farm or food business? Eyad Salha from Valley Community Development will share a roadmap for your first few years of starting up. We’ll talk about business planning, financial planning, entity structures and how to best set yourself up to succeed. We’ll even dive into how to set prices and track income and expenses. You’ll leave with a roadmap and helpful tools to get you started.  

For questions, interpretation requests, or registering after the deadlines above, contact Lucy Kahn, (413) 247-4842.

This project was supported by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture through grant AM22SCBPMA1163. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

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