Events

The Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) is collaborating with Coy Poitier, Chairman of the USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Dallas Urban County Committee, to explore a series of webinars about how Texas farmers and ranchers can benefit from participating in USDA programs. One of our goals is to highlight small, urban, and historically underserved producers who have successfully accessed technical or financial assistance from USDA.

For our first webinar in March, we’ll be talking about the gateway to USDA programs: the FSA Farm Number.

Register today and please share with other farmers – experienced, new, and aspiring farmers are welcome!

FSA Farm Numbers: What, Why & How – March 6, 2024 – 6:00 – 7:00 PM CST

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcocu6rrT0tHtBX9u8BdMQKe4DEV6aQORER#/registration

A farm number from USDA is the gateway to many public programs that can help grow, improve, and aid your farm or ranch in times of need. If you’re interested in working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) or Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), you’ll need to get a farm number! 

In this online community meeting, we’ll hear from an FSA representative on the benefits and process of getting a farm number, and three Texas farm businesses who have used farm numbers to access technical and financial resources for their farms. We’ll leave plenty of time for Q&A, so come ready with questions.

We’ll update this page with new webinars as we plan them. Stay tuned by following us at @TexasLocalFood on Instagram or Facebook.

The Texas Center for Local Food is launching a series of community meetings this fall about Making Money for Your Farm! 

The series will explore marketing and sales topics by and for Texas farmers and ranchers. Meetings are an opportunity to learn from, connect, and ask questions of other Texas producers while building community connections and learning how to grow your farm business. Registration is FREE and required in advance via Zoom.

Register today and please share with other farmers – experienced, new, and aspiring alike!

🍴 How to Break into Restaurant Sales — Wednesday, September 6th — 6:00 – 7:30pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZErcO2vrjMoG9a-26BE0DIUQw8WiHCydJIO 

For the first event on September 6, Texas farmers and chefs discuss what you need to do as a farmer to sell to restaurants and what to keep in mind when you’re building your relationship with chefs. Featuring Finegan Ferreboeuf of Steelbow Farm, Chelsea Fadda of Pecan Square Cafe, Marcella Juarez of Palo Blanco Farm & Ranch and Nadia Casaperalta of South Texas College’s Culinary Department. Bring your questions, share with your network, and register today!

🥕 Best Practices for Selling at Farmers Markets — Wednesday, October 4th — 6:00 – 7:30pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0rceyopjIsGNGU7yEdobREz-fKgupYtpb5 

Are you interested in selling at farmers markets, or making improvements to your current setup? Join the Texas Center for Local Food for the second event of their Making Money for Your Farm series on October 4th from 6:00pm – 7:30pm!

Hear from two experienced farmers market vendors – Kay Bell with Passion Garden Farm and Chisa Brigham at HAD Land Farms – about what they’ve learned and how they maximize their profitability at market. They’ll discuss best practices for display, sales, and logistics, and leave plenty of time for discussion and questions. Register today & please share!


📈 Harvest & Sales Tracking Tools — Wednesday, November 1st — 6:00 – 7:30pm

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEsduGuqTkiHtXbdwHR11PdcvpswrWXxGQ8

So you’re selling your products but you don’t have a great system in place to keep track of it all… come learn from two Texas producers and educators – Shakera Raygoza of Sentli Regenerative Center and Terra Preta Farm, and Michelle Akindiya of Farmshare Austin – what it looks like to track harvests and sales across different market channels. They’ll share and explain their farm harvest and sales tracking systems, and how they utilize services like Square and Quickbooks. We’ll leave plenty of time for discussion, and we’ll send you home with customizable tracking spreadsheet templates.

Title screen that shows the title of the presentation, Money Left on the Table: How Increased Food Access Benefits Farmers and a photograph of a farmer selling produce.
Promotional poster for Small Food Producers conference that shows a photograph of people sitting at tables and taking notes attentively. There are also images of produce adorning the image.

The Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) was recently invited to attend and speak at the Small Food Producers Conference hosted by Grow Local South Texas in Corpus Christi. This comprehensive event was designed to offer educational presentations catering specifically to the needs of small farms, ranches, cottage food businesses, and homesteaders. The conference agenda featured a diverse range of sessions and presentations, addressing topics from urban conservation to soil health and small business growth, providing a comprehensive and enriching experience for small food producers. This particular event aligned with TCLF’s goal to provide knowledge and resources to small food producers and was a valuable opportunity to listen to the needs and challenges of our audience.

This year, TCLF chose to present on the importance of accepting SNAP at farmers markets and the outcomes of our project, “A Fresh Look at Your Farmers Market.” SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps), is a food allowance given to shoppers on a monthly basis. It is the nation’s most successful anti-hunger program and is a powerful stimulus when used with local food businesses. The Fresh Look project has two goals: to increase the number of farmers markets that accept SNAP and to increase SNAP sales at markets already accepting SNAP, thereby increasing the amount of money going directly to producers’ pockets. The second year of this project is almost wrapped up, so we were happy to present positive outcomes to the project, including providing one-on-one technical assistance to 37 Fresh Look partner sites and saving our partners over $15,000 in signs and social marketing promotion.

The event that stood out to us most wasn’t a presentation; it was a lunchtime town hall-style discussion. This discussion aimed to understand the challenges and obstacles that food producers encounter when selling at farmers’ markets. As one farmer pointed out, “We grow, harvest, clean, package, and drive to the market ourselves. It’s hard enough just to make it to the market in time.” Wearing multiple hats – from entrepreneur to ecologist and marketer – is the reality for small food producers. Many of them expressed a shared aspiration: building a consistent customer base to sustain their operations and to contribute to Texas’ food supply. Farmers are the cornerstone of TCLF’s work, and we were honored to be present in that discussion. It allowed us to contemplate how we can further connect farmers with resources and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.


After the event ended, one food producer caught up with us in the parking lot to talk more about accepting SNAP. “We’re so thankful,” she said. “This program has been great not just for us, but for our local community, too.” As we continue to collaborate and build bridges within the Texas food system, events like these reaffirm our commitment to supporting local food producers.

Title screen that shows the title of the presentation, Money Left on the Table: How Increased Food Access Benefits Farmers and a photograph of a farmer selling produce.

Here’s a developing list of resources related to creating virtual farm tours and other farm events.

Virtual Farm & Food Experiences webinar. Univ of Vermont and International Workshop on AgriTourism. Visit the latter for more webinars. Sponsored by Yonder, a new agritourism and farm stay platform. Also see the resources from the webinar: Eleanor Leger, Eden Specialty Ciders, Vermont, USA and Caroline Millar, Balkello Farm and Go Rural, Dundee, Scotland.

Pony Power Therapies in New Jersey. Webinar recording of farm tour.

This guide was written for farmers up north in Minnesota and Wisconsin and has ideas you can use here in Texas. Hey Texas farmers and ranchers, add your comments below to share your ideas.

Are you a farmer interested in diversifying into on-farm food service and serve meals on your farm?  As local food fans continue to flock to on-farm dining experiences, from multi-course farm-to-table meals to family-friendly pizza nights. This opens up opportunities for farmers to launch dining experiences on their family farms and add an income stream. 

A new free publication, Come & Get It: What you need to know to serve food on your farm  is a 120-page guide with case studies of nine successful farm businesses. Spearheaded by Renewing the Countryside, this project created publications specifically for Wisconsin and Minnesota to help navigate and understand various regulations.  

Texas farmers. Share your ideas for increasing farm income using agri tourism. Add your comments below

On July 12th, farmers from around the state of Texas met in Elgin, Texas at the Fleming Community Center to learn about financial management for small-scale producers and to gain the skills necessary to run a successful food business in Texas. The Agripreneurship 101 training event was led by a team from The Alliance for Rural Impact and was sponsored by the Texas Center for Local Food and Alamo Ranch Farmer’s Market, with funding provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The training was conducted as a one-day intensive and included sessions on: Business Structure, Separation of Finances, Building and Accessing Credit, Developing Financial Documents and Tips for Tough Financial Times. The course covered a wide array of topics and features presentations from a diverse collection of speakers, including an NRCS Conservationist and former representatives of the financial industry. After completing the training, participants left with new knowledge, skills, and the confidence to efficiently and effectively navigate the financial system and fund their small, farm business.

The full details of the Agripreneurship 101 training event and TCLF’s evaluation report can be found here.

If you are interested in similar trainings and other local food events, make sure to check out our Event Calendar.

We were so happy to host the team from Iowa State for our recent Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems trainings. Below, please find a recent blog post from Lauren, an intern that helped with the training, about her time in Texas. Keep up the great work y’all!
texas ACC sign
Austin Community College farmers market.
janning picby Lauren Janning, CFSP summer intern

In May, I had the privilege of traveling to Texas with the ISU Community Food Systems Program team. I was looking forward to observing and participating in the Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems trainings. And I was excited to explore Austin and Elgin and experience the local food scene in rural and urban settings.

Courtney Long (CFSP manager) and I took advantage of our free time the morning after our arrival to check out downtown Austin. We saw a beautiful garden space built near a middle school, designed for outdoor learning experiences in growing fresh food.

We also came across a local eatery called Hillside Farmacy and noted its location to enjoy the next morning for breakfast. Thank goodness we did, because they had the most elegant menu featuring a variety of local items. The value they place on providing healthy, delicious, and locally sourced produce for their customers is admirable and very appealing!

Feeding 28 million in Texas

Next, the Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems trainings brought us to the small town of Elgin. There, a diverse group of passionate food leaders congregated to learn about improving their communities in southeast Texas. I was grateful for the opportunity to witness Courtney and Kaley Hohenshell’s expertise as it pertains to community food systems. And I enjoyed hearing more about the successes of the advocates in this partner state.

These leaders are faced with the very challenging responsibility of feeding a state of more than 28 million. But they are wise, innovative, inclusive, resilient, and incredibly determined to make a difference one step at a time. I am excited for the impacts they will continue to make within their local food systems in years to come.

Our final adventure in Texas included a tour of the sustainable agriculture program at Austin Community College and a site visit to Coyote Creek Farms (pictured below). I loved witnessing the implementation and growth of educational programs and local businesses. We also saw examples of the procurement of local food at various restaurants throughout the region.

I realized on this journey that the community food system (and agriculture in general) is an incredibly unpredictable field and often lacks security. But with creativity, support, and a bit of mental endurance, positive change will continue to propel the local food movement forward.