Case Studies

This project also includes case studies that identify how different farmers are responding to the challenges of marketing locally. Each case study addresses how the farmer got started, what it takes to sustain the business, what resource or policies could add to their success, and the most critical challenges they face.

The Case Studies

The following criteria were used in selecting which farmers to profile.

  • Creative, innovative farmers—Each of these successful farmers has been willing to take calculated risks and try new things to make their farm business a success. They continue to actively look for new markets and experiment with additional products to build their business.
  • Family-owned and -operated businesses—These farms—no matter how many acres or generations involved—are a family affair. The farmer and/or the farm family provide day-to-day labor and management on the farm and own what is produced and the productive assets.
  • Environmentally-conscious farming practices—Farmers are concerned about the quality of the soil, water, and air on their farm and around them. Some farms certify their land or products as organic while others certify certain crops or a particular line of their products. Other farmers who use organic methods do not certify their products; they market most of their products to local customers who know them.
  • Diverse line of high-quality products—Each farm business takes pride in producing unique, high-quality produce and products that distinguish them in the market. These farms also sell a range of diverse products, from fresh fruits and vegetables to value-added items such as preserves, sauces, dried or dehydrated fruits and vegetables, glazed nuts, cheeses, and baked goods, all in a wide range of flavors and styles.
  • Numerous marketing channels—Each farm markets their products through a combination of many different sales channels. These markets include wholesalers and retailers, their own retail store or roadside stand, farmers markets, websites, restaurants, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
  • Significant resources dedicated to marketing—These farm businesses recognize that a successful marketing strategy requires a significant amount of resources and time. Good marketing includes attractive labeling and packaging and the time and resources necessary to build relationships with customers, research the competition, create new products, develop connections with the media, and follow consumer trends.
  • Connections to the local and agricultural communities—These farmers participate in or work with organizations such as the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, California Women for Agriculture, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Slow Food Central Valley, California Certified Organic Farmers, UC Cooperative Extension, and the UC Small Farm Program. They purchase some of their inputs from other farms nearby and are active in agricultural events and classes at local schools and community colleges.