Sustaining Communities Through Local Foods and Marketing

farmer at farmers market

For decades now, the opportunity to earn a premium through local sales has been a boon for U.S. farmers and ranchers. Nearly 164,000 farms generated $6.1 billion in direct-market sales in 2012, according to USDA statistics.

Local sales are made through a variety of marketing avenues that SARE grantees have been implementing, evaluating and refining since the program’s beginning. In the early days, the focus was on farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture (CSAs), sales to retailers and restaurants, unique specialty products, and value-added processing. (See the story, Third-Generation Dairy Thrives in New Kansas City Markets.)

Today, producers are seeking to keep even more dollars in their communities by scaling up local and regional marketing channels. SARE grantees are keeping pace with this evolution. For example, they are building cooperative distribution and marketing models such as food hubs; navigating the unique requirements for institutional sales; and filling the rural gap in small-scale, USDA-inspected meat processing. SARE-funded educators are creating tools and training programs that help producers develop profitable marketing strategies.

Furthermore, SARE grantees are helping their communities realize the social benefits of the local food economy. They are establishing farmers’ markets and reviving traditional crops on tribal lands, starting innovative urban farms and gardens, and bringing food education to grade schools.

By the Numbers - SARE Grants on Marketing, 1988-2017

Getting the Word Out


SARE produces dozens of educational resources on a range of sustainable agriculture topics. Grantees produce even more with SARE funding. Here are just a few examples that address marketing (or see all SARE resources on marketing management):

Print: 9,627 | Online: 26,532

Print: 14,999 | Online: 33,586

Print: 35,000 | Online: 14,321

“Print” is copies distributed since the date of publication. “Online” is combined downloads and unique page views over a recent six-year period.

Visit the database of project reports to explore SARE-funded research on these topics.

produce icon 240 grants | $5.2 million

Direct Marketing
target icon 235 grants | $5.6 million

Farmers' Markets
farmers market icon 330 grants | $5.5 million

Farm to School
farm tools and pencil icon 468 grants | $9.8 million

Local and Regional Food Systems
truck icon 350 grants | $10.4 million

Marketing to Institutions
chef hat icon 264 grants | $8.2 million

Meat Processing
meat knife icon 50 grants | $1.3 million

Urban Agriculture
urban area icon 97 grants | $1.9 million

1,277 grants | $34.5 million

Because some projects address more than one topic, the total is adjusted to remove duplicates.