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NC State Extension

Marketing & Market Development

Marketing local food is the strategy a producer uses to get their products to consumers. Local food can be sold direct to consumers or through intermediary markets, such as institutions. Within these market channels there are several options for how to interact with customers. This page provides information on different market channels and links to resources to learn more.

Fresh produce available at the North Carolina State Farmers' Market on a fall day.

Direct Markets

Producer to Consumer

  • Online Sales: This page provides resources and information for producers getting started with online sale methods. New resources will be added as they become available.
  • Agritourism & Farm Visits: Agritourism is a form of consumer engagement where farms “offer a variety of recreational, educational, and tourism activities to make their finances more resilient” (Extension Tourism). These activities can include farm tours.
  • Community-Supported Agriculture: The Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) model is a marketing model whereby local farmers offer unique farm products to buyers who will subscribe to receive a weekly or monthly box of fruits, vegetables, fresh flowers, eggs, meats, cheeses, or any assortment of local farm products.
  • Farmers’ Markets: Includes information and resources that may be of interest to farmers’ market managers, farmers’ market vendors, and engaged residents developing their local and community-based food systems, as well as links to the following sub-pages:
    • Farmers’ Markets & Food Access: Learn about access discrepancies at farmers’ markets and resources to lessen those discrepancies (including SNAP EBT, WIC, FMNP, and more).
    • Farmers’ Market Tour Resources: Farmers’ Market Tours can be a great way to introduce new customers to a great source of fresh, local food! Whether they’re part of a class or on their own, there are a lot of resources available to help you guide new consumers through a market and think about how to budget and prepare fresh food.
    • Food Safety for Farmers’ Markets: The N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Portal extensive food safety resources for farmer’s markets. This list includes Good Farmers Market Practices, fresh produce safety considerations at market, along with NC specific guidelines.

Intermediary Markets

Producer to Intermediary to Consumer

  • Farm to Institution: Access resources and information related to farm to school, farm to preschool/early child care, farm to university, farm to hospital, and related programs.
    • Farm to School:  Farm to Cafeteria: Farm to School is a movement that strives to build a youth’s connection to healthy, local food through school gardening, farm field trips, hands-on cooking and nutrition and local sourcing of fresh fruits and vegetables to school cafeterias.
  • Retail Markets: This page contains information of interest to farmers selling into retail markets, retailers and other buyers sourcing locally produced food, and service-providers providing technical assistance to both producers and buyers.
    • Retail Ready for Local Foods: The Retail Ready for Local Farm Products program addresses the risks faced by North Carolina’s small-scale farmers as they develop new relationships with local restaurant, grocery and wholesale buyers.
  • Local Food and Cooperatives: An extensive introduction to co-op models, including an introduction to the member-ownership structure, cooperative principles, types of cooperatives, and steps to forming a cooperative.

Certifications and Branding

  • State & Regional Branding Programs: learn about the Got to Be NC, Piedmont Grown, and Appalachian Grown Certifications; all great resources for NC producers interested in adding a sense of local authenticity into their marketing efforts.
  • Information on GAPs Certification: learn about the Good Agricultural Practices certification program, a valuable opportunity for farms to demonstrate their dedication to food safety to consumers.

Written By

Grace Baucom, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionGrace BaucomLocal Food Student Intern Email Grace
NC State Extension, NC State University
Page Last Updated: 2 months ago
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