Arlington, Virginia – The Farm Credit

MarketMaker Innovation Award winner and runners-up were announced at the 20th annual National Value Added Agriculture Conference as part of the 2018 National Direct Agricultural Marketing Summit, held September 17-18 in Arlington, Virginia. The award, now in its 8th year, recognizes outstanding efforts by state and local MarketMaker programs that contribute to the development of local and regional food systems and help farmers connect to new market opportunities. Farm Credit sponsors the cash awards, which the winners and runners-up can use to advance their MarketMaker-related programs.

The 2018 Innovation Award Winner is Louisiana Farm to School Program, its team members being Crystal R. Besse, Alessandro Holzapfel, and Carl Motsenbocker with the LSU AgCenter. The team uses MarketMaker to inventory farming operations, linking schools with farmers and child nutrition services with fresh, local fruits and vegetables. Capitalizing on this advantage, the team is able to reach new stakeholder groups, build strong partnerships, and ultimately contribute to the fight to reduce obesity in their state.

The program also supports and promotes Louisiana Harvest of the Month to bring local food items into schools. To participate in Harvest of the Month, a site must activate a MarketMaker account. To increase familiarity with the MarketMaker website, the program developed three video tutorials on how to create an account for a buyer or producer and how to conduct an in-depth search. The videos have been shared with all partner schools, published on YouTube, and embedded on the program’s website.

First runner-up for the 2018 Innovation Award is the Illinois Farmers Market Association. ILFMA has developed innovative technology and collaborations in collaboration with MarketMaker to connect farmers markets, farmers, and consumers to local products across Illinois, promoting sales and revenues for Illinois producers. Paul Levine, ILFMA Board Member was on hand to accept the award.

Second runner-up is the Iowa State Community Foods Systems program, which has developed curriculum including dynamic food systems development, incorporating collective impact, mapping, and assessments as well as project implementation. MarketMaker is used as a dynamic tool to identify communities’ food-based businesses in order to effectively analyze potential connections and gaps. Team Members include Courtney Long and Kaley Hohenshell with Iowa State University.

Gary Matteson, VP of Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach with the Farm Credit Council, announced the awards. “The Farm Credit Innovation Award provides an incentive for state MarketMaker programs to describe the great projects they come up with that can be used by other states,” said Matteson. “This year’s winner–Louisiana Farm to School Program–is a great example of how to use the powerful data of MarketMaker to create more market opportunities for producers selling into new markets.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Farm Credit to give this year’s award winners some well-deserved recognition,” said Dar Knipe, co-founder of the MarketMaker program and managing partner of the Global Food and Ag Network. “We know that shining a light on their good work will also help others who work with farmers and communities improve livelihoods and create sustainable market systems.”