Farm women were exposed to a full day of learning and networking at the Annie’s Project New Jersey: Retail Marketing Conference for Farm Women last month at the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center, in Bridgeton, NJ. Annie’s Project is a nationally acclaimed farm business educational program for farm women.
The 17 farm women who attended the daylong conference were exposed to a variety of topics designed to give them a comprehensive understanding of the marketplace that would help them develop a business strategy to ensure the success of their operations. Relevant topics included agritourism, social media, marketing strategies, value-added enterprises, financial goals, marketing plan and crop insurance offered by a series of presenters drawn from Rutgers, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Delaware Department of Agriculture, University of Maryland Extension and the NJ Farmers Direct Marketing Association.
Stephanie Cash, owner of Dias Creek Oyster Company, a commercial oyster business that she operates with her husband in Cape May Court House, NJ, found the conference very useful. “In many respects, the day helped me see what next steps I must take. Even more important, it helped me see what I must do to free up the time to get the necessary things done. It was a most refreshing way to review priorities.”
Cash had previously participated in an Annie’s Project webinar on setting financial goals, but this in-person workshop was more effective for her in real life. she said. “There is something about being in a room with other people and being asked to concoct a goal and put a time limit on it that makes the light bulb come on. I suddenly understood what I’ll have to do to get from Point A to Point B.”
According to Jenny Carleo, agricultural agent at Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, “the session provided a wide range of educational resources for the women that gave them informed perspectives on successful marketing techniques.”
“Our goal of providing a networking forum was also met, the women learned from hearing about each other’s experiences on the farm and were able to share what they’ve learned over the years,” added Carleo.
Following the completion of a draft marketing plan at the end of the conference, participants toured the nearby Rutgers Food Innovation Center, in Bridgeton, NJ, said Carleo. “The tour of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center illustrated practical ways that Rutgers can help farmers turn their dreams of creating value-added products into reality.”
Annie’s Project is based on a real farm woman, Annette Fleck, who spent her lifetime learning how to be an involved business partner with her farm husband. The program was created by her daughter, Ruth Hambleton, who became a Cooperative Extension educator in Illinois. The project takes Annie’s farm management experiences and shares them with farm women living and working in the highly complex business of farming.
Annie’s Project New Jersey is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Risk Management Agency and Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Participating agencies include Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and County Boards of Chosen Freeholders.