UMCA News Release
Missouri Exchange workshop connects niche market buyers and sellers
July 31, 2007
A recent workshop sponsored by the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry promoted a new Web site where buyers and sellers of Missouri agricultural products could meet. It also brought buyers and sellers together face-to-face.
The Missouri Exchange workshop, held July 19 at Memorial Union on the University of Missouri campus, featured information on selling fresh and niche agricultural products, a Web site tutorial, local food and agricultural product samples, and networking among attendees and speakers.
Missouri Exchange, http://www.missouriexchange.com/, is a free Web site that broadens marketing opportunities for Missouri producers who specialize in niche market products. Producers who list merchandise on the Web site have 24-hour access to potential buyers throughout the state, the country and even around the world. The site showcases Missouri’s diverse agricultural products, links sellers to the market, helps source hard to find products and educates consumers and producers. Users can buy and sell timber, nuts, fruits, botanicals, native plants, mushrooms and other agricultural products.
According to Web site administrator Ina Cernusca, a research associate and marketing specialist with the Center for Agroforestry, Missouri Exchange has been successful so far. The site has generated 235 members in less than six months; the number of members increases every day. Missouri Exchange has received up to 22,000 hits per month and attracts visitors from all over the world.
The Missouri Exchange workshop included knowledgeable speakers who discussed opportunities for marketing niche and fresh agricultural products to restaurants, marketing of alternative products, native plants and the GrowNative! program, and the rise of the growing local food movement in the United States. Speakers, in addition to Cernusca, were Larry Godsey, research associate and economist, Center for Agroforestry; Tammy Bruckerhoff, agriculture promotion specialist, GrowNative!; Mary Hendrickson, extension assistant professor, University of Missouri department of rural sociology; Debi Kelly, referral service manager, MU Missouri Alternatives Center; and Leigh Anne Lockhart, Main Squeeze Natural Foods Café, Columbia, Mo.
The workshop was well received by attendees. Participant Vera Gelder, of Walk-About Acres in Columbia, Mo., said she enjoyed the programs and the chance to chat with other producers.
“As always, the presenters had some worthwhile information to share about marketing and where to find needed information,” she said. “We learned about blogging and hoop-house tomatoes from a couple of the participants. The networking is invaluable!”
Participants and speakers exhibited their services and products, which included pickled walnuts, honey ice cream, mustard, fresh produce and herbs, native plants and pecan candies.
The luncheon of fried chicken, stuffed peppers, vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, fresh rolls and cheesecake promoted local foods – all ingredients were brought in from area farms before preparation by University of Missouri chefs.
The workshop will be repeated to provide more people the opportunity to get in-depth information about the Web site and its objectives, Cernusca said.
Workshop attendee Lorraine Barnicle of Barnicle Farms, Mary’s Home, Mo., has already recommended the Web site to her neighbors, who grow grapes and are now planting elderberries.
“I had no idea what to expect,” she said of the workshop. “But I was very excited with the information given, especially the Web sites that the University has created.” Barnicle plans to market her pickled walnuts through the Web site and see if any of the other products listed interest her.
Other sponsors of the Missouri Exchange workshop included GrowNative!, MU Missouri Alternatives Center, and MU Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture Program.
Visit the Missouri Exchange Web site at http://www.missouriexchange.com/
For more information about the site, contact Ina Cernusca at 573-882-4848 or email@example.com.
Senior Information Specialist
Center for Agroforestry
University of Missouri