Grower Perspectives on Farm to School in Minnesota
A Survey of Interested Farmers, Ranchers and Other Producers
As part of our work on Farm to School, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) conducted an electronic survey of growers interested in Farm to School in Spring 2011. The survey was designed to assess growers’ perceptions of Farm to School, interest levels, challenges, aspirations and strategies that could enable growers to benefit more fully from this growing market.
A request to participate in the survey was issued through a variety of channels, including newsletters, emails and blogs from selected farm membership organizations in Minnesota, the Sustag Listserv and by email to a list of farmers that Minnesota school districts have identified as suppliers. This survey complements a similar survey that IATP conducts annually with Minnesota school foodservice leaders (Available at www.iatp.org/localfoods). Our most recent foodservice survey found that the number of Minnesota public school districts engaged in Farm to School programs has grown from 10 in 2006 to 123 in 2010.
Sixty-seven individuals responded to the grower survey. Of these, 63 identified themselves as producers (e.g., farmers, ranchers, orchardists) while four represent multi-farm collaboratives or farmers markets. Nearly all respondents live in Minnesota. Approximately 80 percent report annual agriculture-related revenues of less than $100,000 per year, with a majority under $25,000. Respondents produce a wide range of farm products, with vegetables being the most common. The vast majority of respondents sell through multiple sales channels, with direct marketing being the most common.