Stepping Stones Have Been Laid
September 11, 2016

As my summer internship comes to an end, I am happy with the work I completed. This summer working for the Central Growers Cooperative was a great experience. I got to talk and meet with several producers across Smith, Phillips, and Norton Counties in Kansas, as well as access the demand for locally grown foods in the public. Through this, I learned a lot not only about these three counties, but tips and tricks that I could use in my future profession.

Some of the major projects that I worked on was contacting all of the producers and distributors in the three counties I worked in. I had  series of question that I asked each producer to find out what they produced, the quantity, where they market, would they be interested in increasing their production to meet the growing market, etc. I got to travel and see several of the operations in person, which gave me a better understanding of how their operation worked. I learned a tremendous amount of knowledge about producing, and marketing in a rural setting. I found this information valuable to me, as I want to return to my home town and have a vegetable production operation of my own. I also had a series of questions that I asked the local distributors (grocers, restaurants, nursing homes, schools, etc.). Talking with the distributors gave me a feel of where the producers could go with their products if they wanted to. This also helped me build a network of connections that will help me later on in life. Through this process of talking with producers and distributors, I laid stepping stones down for myself to help me in the future.

Another big part of my internship was to create a public Facebook page for the Central Growers Cooperative and post regularly on it. After creating the page, I feel like it was great success considering the area I was working in. We currently have 111 likes and average about 30+ post reaches per post. Our highest post outreach was 3.9K, which was a link to blog I wrote about a local producer. Blogging about local producers was another part of my internship that I enjoyed. I did not have much experience blogging before, but felt my work done for the Central Growers Cooperative was good for a beginner. Our blog had over 1,000 views in the United States and about 100 in the country of Spain, Canada, and Germany. This blew me away when I was looking at the statistics for our blog. I never would have thought that people in other countries where look at our blog, whether it was by accident or purpose. Here is a link to our blog page…

http://cgclocalproducers.blogspot.com/

I mentioned some of the success that I had through my internship above, but I feel my biggest success was planting a seed of buying, growing, and selling locally withing the public, producers, and distributors in the counties I was working in. This is major step for our cooperative, as well as our area. Since we are a rural area, we are sometimes far behind on the latest trends that are happening, now I feel that these three counties are closer to being up to speed on the ‘Local Food’ movement that is sweeping the nation. Some of the failures I had was not being able to contact all of the producers in my area. Through my researched I discovered that the majority of the producers are actually part-time or hobby producers. Therefore, they have a full time job so my window to call producers was very small. Then I did not always have an accurate phone number for them either.

My interactions with my supervisor, as well as other members in the cooperative was great. Jenae, my supervisor, was always there to answer my questions or lead me in the right way of obtaining my answer. Working with Simone Elder was great as well. Simone was also always there to help answer my questions about a requirement for being an intern for Ogallala Commons, as well as helping me find transportation to the orientation in Dumas, TX. Even though I got in a vehicle Monday morning with 2 complete strangers and traveled 7 hours to Dumas, I would have to say attending orientation was one of my greatest highlights on my summer and internship. It is sad to say that my internship is over, but I plan to continue to work with the Central Growers Cooperative throughout the upcoming years.

Booth I set up at several County Fairs in order to catch a wide variety of public to survey.
Booth I set up at several County Fairs in order to catch a wide variety of public to survey.
A day I got to travel to Norton, KS and visit with their Farmers Market Coordinator, as well as some local producers
A day I got to travel to Norton, KS and visit with their Farmers Market Coordinator, as well as some local producers.