Merging and growing: announcing the Farm, Food, and Enterprise Development Program
by Craig Chase, Program Manager
Program mergers and name changes can be difficult and confusing, both for employees and for clients of the programs being affected. Questions may arise, such as why the change, what was wrong with what we were doing and how we were doing it, and what was wrong with our name?
This post should answer many of those questions.
The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Value Added Agriculture Program and the Local Foods Program were active and successful for a number of years. However, as a result of a common manager (me) in January 2018 and a changing budget environment, the two programs have now merged.
Our new program name is Farm, Food, and Enterprise Development (FFED). Our revised mission: to support value-added agriculture enterprises, businesses, and regional food systems through research, education, and community engagement.
We announced this change to our extension colleagues at the recent Agriculture and Natural Resources professional development day. Now we’re spreading the news far and wide to our clients and other partners.
Honoring what works
For about one full year, I reviewed what we were doing and how we were doing it. After internal and external discussions, I decided to make some changes. The Value Added Agriculture Program had numerous programs and interests. I believed in order to find sustainable funding sources, we needed to focus our resources into two areas: small farms and farmer profitability, and business development services.
The Small Farms Team is now led by Christa Hartsook. She and her team address topics such as small farms, agri-tourism, specialty crop farmer marketing, enterprise analysis and development, and the Iowa Sustainable Agriculture and Research and Education (SARE) program, among others.
The Enterprise Development Team is led by Brian Tapp. He and his team provide clients with business plan education and development, business plan reviews, feasibility studies, and other business development activities.
The Local Foods Team, led by Courtney Long, provides leadership related to food system development. Projects include the community food system, local food leader, and mapping 101 educational programs, as well as farm to school, healthy food access, and community garden activities.
Focusing on (Small) Farms, Food (Systems), and Enterprise Development should allow us to develop stronger educational programs and collaborative partnerships. Our goal remains improving the quality of life for all Iowans and the promotion of healthy communities, people, and environments.
Stay in touch
While change can be difficult and challenging, I have always believed it also allows for opportunities. To find out more about who we now are and what we do, take a look at this flier. And feel free to contact me or any of our team members with questions or comments.
(If you don’t already subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, NEWS BITES is a great way to keep up with what we’re doing and learn how we can support you in your work.)