Looking for ways to decrease waste, increase efficiency, and grow your customer base? Learn how to do all three in our launch your own cottage food or value-added farm enterprise course!
What you’ll learn
This course will give you the tools to launch a new farm enterprise! From developing your product to selling it, we’ll walk you through the steps it takes to launch your new enterprise into the market. By the end of this course you will have a complete enterprise plan to guide your new venture and you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your plan to a panel of local food and business entrepreneurs for a chance to win a cash prize!
October 6: Local Food Business Basics
October 13: Your Product and Its Market
October 20: Assessing and Mitigating Risk
October 27: Developing Your Marketing Strategy
November 3: Developing Your Sales Plan
November 10: optional office hours
November 17: Pitch Fest!
What are cottage foods and value-added goods?
Cottage foods are items produced in a person’s home kitchen or other designated location and sold directly to a consumer. Cottage foods may only be sold directly from producer to consumer. Check out the Illinois Department of Public Health’s comprehensive 2022 cottage food guide.
A value-added food product is something grown or raised by a farmer and then increased in value through labor and creativity. Value can be added minimally through marketing, or more intensively through processing. Processed items sold through third parties must be prepared in a certified commercial kitchen.
This course will occur entirely online.* Participants are expected to attend 2-hour weekly live sessions and complete an additional 1-2 hours of independent work between sessions. Each session will provide you with the tools to develop the next piece of your enterprise plan and get you closer to launch!
*If you do not have access to reliable internet and would like to participate, please reach out to Crystal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To participate, you must be:
- A current grower (farmer, farm manager, or farm-
worker) or home gardener*
- Producer of fruits, vegetables, food-grade grains, fiber, meat, or dairy
*Some content will be specific to businesses operating in the state of Illinois; if enrolling from another state, you will need to research your state’s regulations.
Additional one-on-one support available to participants
As a benefit of participation, you will have free one-on-one access to consultants available to discuss,
- Business planning
- Budgeting and financial planning
- Cottage food law
The cost to participate in this course is $150. If this presents a barrier for your participation, please reach out to Crystal at email@example.com.
Meet the presenters
Katie Bishop, PrairiErth Farm
Together Hans and Katie run the vegetable and grain operations at PrairiErth Farm. Katie is the go-to for all things veggie from transplant sales to CSA, wholesale accounts and community outreach programs, planting through harvest. Katie works hard with the community to make sure local and organic food is accessible by all. Katie speaks on topics such as eating seasonally, food preservation, creating and building your brand, and using social media on the farm.
Sybil Ege, The Business of Food
Sybil has extensive experience building businesses. Since her corporate career, where she grew a company from 12 employees to over 850, Sybil has launched several of her own businesses. In addition, she has served as a center director for the Illinois Small Business Development Center and a business coach at the Next Level Northwest business accelerator. Sybil’s specialties are business planning, marketing, and franchising, but mostly she just loves watching other entrepreneurs bloom into successful business owners.
Jeff Hake, Funk’s Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains
Jeff Hake owns and operates Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains along with his wife and brother-in-law in McLean, Illinois. They grow fruits and grains on a small scale, which they then process and package into specialty value-added food products and sell via wholesale channels throughout Central Illinois. He serves as board vice president of Central Illinois FarmFED Co-op, and as president of the Central Illinois Young Farmers Coalition. Hake has a master’s degree in agriculture, food, and the environment from the Friedman School at Tufts University.
Heidi Leuszler, Berries & Flour: Bakery & Harvest Goods & Farm
Heidi is the owner and head pastry chef of Berries & Flour: Bakery & Harvest Goods & Farm, a licensed Illinois farm and cottage food business. Heidi is an avid forager and baker, gleaning inspiration and goodies from the landscape to create delicious baked goods, shrubs, teas, jams, spices, and syrups. Heidi shares her knowledge and love for the environment through teaching biology and sustainability at Parkland College and is involved in numerous community organizations working toward a more sustainable and resilient community and local food system.
Mariah Madison, Buy Black Chambana & HeadStart Marketing
Mariah Madison is the founder and editor of Buy Black Chambana, Champaign County’s premier Black-owned business directory. Buy Black Chambana is dedicated to empowering and creating space for people to celebrate and honor Black culture and support Black businesses. Mariah is also CEO of HeadStart Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency. Mariah is a tireless advocate for small businesses and her community.
Natalie Kenny Marquez, Grow Marketing
Natalie is a born planner and communicator specializing in helping organizations determine their audience, tell their story, build their brand, and expand their reach. Natalie’s background includes over a decade in municipal government outreach and communications, five seasons running Urbana’s Market at the Square, and countless hours working with small businesses and start-ups on their marketing plans and strategies.
Funding for this course was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant #AM200100XXXXG114. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.
Special thanks to The Land Connection’s Farmer Training sponsors!