ST. JOSEPH, La. (AP) — The LSU AgCenter is creating a program to help small farms market their products effectively.
John Barnett, a former county agent and regional director for the AgCenter, has been named extension family farm specialist for the project.
Barnett said he is ramping up the program now and hopes to make its services available to small farms across the state.
"Currently we are covering everything north of Alexandria," he said. "Our goal is to get more impact and outreach with these family farms."
The program is designed for small operations run by retirees or others who work other jobs and supplement their incomes through farming, Barnett said.
"Many of these small operations are involved in vegetable and fruit production with crops such as blueberries, mayhaws, and some even have small cattle operations," he said.
Another part of the program looks for ways connect small farms with consumers, using the AgCenter's MarketMaker program.
MarketMaker is an Internet-based marketing tool designed to connect buyers and sellers, LSU AgCenter economist John Westra said.
"MarketMaker serves as a central clearinghouse for commercial seafood products and other specialty crops," Westra said. "So if you're a buyer and you want blueberries, you can locate those growers."
Barnett says his work also will highlight the benefits of agritourism.
"Agritourism is one of the ways that we are able to bring the urban dweller back into the countryside, and there is a lot of interest in that," Barnett said.
The AgCenter is planning seminars and workshops to provide information for people interested in beginning a small-farm enterprise.
Barnett is preparing a fruit, vegetable and nut growers conference for this fall.
More information about the small farm program is available by contacting Barnett at 318-323-2251.