Farmers can improve marketing skills at NOFA Conference

— When trying to make a living as a farmer, growing great food is only half the battle even the best tomato or cheese doesn’t sell itself.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont’s 9th annual Direct Marketing Conference aims to improve farmers’ sales by bringing together farmers, farmers’ market organizers, and marketing pros to educate and build stronger opportunities within the thriving market for local food in Vermont. This day-long conference of workshops, inspiring speakers, and networking will be held Sunday, Jan. 12, at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton.

The 2014 conference features two tracks: one for farmers who market directly to consumers through farmers’ markets, farm stands, and community supported agriculture (CSA) farms; and new track for farmers’ market organizers.

The main conference will feature 16 workshops on a variety of marketing and market development topics, including Assessing the Cost of Your Direct Markets; Farm Stands: The 7-11 of Vegetable Marketing; How Do I Sell Through a Distributor? and Developing and Communicating Your Story.

The farmers’ market organizer track includes intensive working sessions, including Governance Basics for Farmers’ Markets; Marketing Tools, Best Practices and Guidelines for Better Organizing and Promoting Farmers’ Markets; and Making the Case for Your Market in Your Community. The conference will also host the annual meeting of the Vermont Farmers’ Market Association and coaching sessions for new farmers and online marketing.

In addition to these opportunities, the conference features “FarmsTED” speakers based on the TEDTalks format of short, dynamic, and motivating talks on “ideas worth spreading.”

Conference attendees will listen to Richard Berkfield of Food Connects, Mari Omland of Green Mountain Girls Farm, and Eric Rozendaal of Rockville Market Farm as this year’s FarmsTED Speakers. Darlene Wolnik, an independent consultant and farmers’ market researcher, act as moderator.

Registration fees are $40 for NOFA Vermont members and $50 for non-members. A lunch made with local ingredients and refreshments is included with the conference fee. Call 802-434-3821 for details.

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