The onset of spring sends farmers and gardeners to the field with hopes of a bountiful summer harvest. Those who end up with excess produce or who want to find a use for less-than-best-quality produce often look for ways to transform the produce into profits.
“Farmers and gardeners may use their extra vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, honey or other farm products to make jams and jellies, salsas and chow chows, juices and wines, breads, pies or any number of other value-added products,” says Megan Bruch Leffew, marketing specialist with University of Tennessee Extension’s Center for Profitable Agriculture. “Turning these products into profit, however, takes planning, practice and patience.”
“Whether canning, pickling, drying, baking, fermenting or freezing, starting a food processing business is challenging,” according to Faith Critzer, assistant professor in the UT Department of Food Science and Technology. “Understanding food manufacturing regulations and learning how to produce foods safely are vital pieces of the food processing puzzle.”
To help fruit and vegetable producers interested in starting their own food processing enterprises, UT Extension is offering Pennsylvania State Extension’s popular food processing education program to Tennessee producers. This is the third time that the course has been offered in Tennessee.
The Food for Profit workshops take participants step by step through the information necessary to start and run a small food product business. The workshop provides information that participants will be able to use immediately to ensure that their business starts out and grows in a way that matches their vision and goals. Topics covered include the realities of a food business presented by a local food manufacturer, regulatory requirements, packaging, safe food handling, marketing, financing and developing a game plan.
The workshop will be offered in four locations across the state this spring. Food for Profit will be held April 20 in Greeneville, April 21 in Knoxville, May 4 in Lebanon and May 5 in Bolivar. There is a registration fee of $30 per person. Pre-registration and pre-payment are required by five business days prior to each workshop.
Workshops are limited to 25 participants per location. Workshops not having an adequate number of participants by the early registration deadline may be cancelled. Sessions will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. local time. Lunch will be provided.
This workshop qualifies as one course toward the educational requirements to receive a 50 percent Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP) cost share for only the Fruits and Vegetables and Value-Added diversification sectors. These workshops are funded, in part, through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant and administered by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
For more information about these workshops or to register online, visit the Center for Profitable Agriculture website and click on “Educational Events.” Contact Megan Bruch Leffew with questions at 931-486-2777 or [email protected].
The Center for Profitable Agriculture is a cooperative effort between UT Extension and the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation to help farmers develop value-added enterprises. The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and outreach through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.
Linda Hyder – Extension Agent