It’s not breaking news for me to tell you that the pandemic has turned food systems everywhere both upside down and inside out. Problems that have been creeping in the shadows have been exposed to the sunlight for all to wrangle with, and trends that have been emerging for years are now part of customers’ regular shopping experience for the long haul. Some food businesses are thriving while others are struggling to find solid footing.
I’m excited to be partnering with The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Pennsylvania SBDC Agriculture Center of Excellence to present monthly webinars designed to support food producers and farmers during this changing landscape.
A little bit about me, I’m Martin Butts, the founder of a boutique consulting company called Small Potatoes. I’ve been working with small- and medium-scale food producers since 2009 to find their space within the food system and grow their roots. You and I may have met before, as I’ve been privileged to work with The University of Scranton SBDC a few times through the years.
Before Small Potatoes, I managed a small, independent grocery store for years in Upstate New York. I‘ve also worked in communications for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), done product development for Syracuse University’s Community Test Kitchen, managed a bustling restaurant, and spent most of my teen years stacking hay, picking corn in the summer, and pumpkins in the fall. I’ve worked in communities large and small in all corners of the country. My background is diverse and we’ll get to know each other better over the course of the webinar series that kicks off on February 16 and runs through September.
The first program is Trends in the Pandemic Food Economy and will look at some overall trends that have emerged in the year since COVID-19 began disrupting our day to day. The biggest trend has been a movement towards more direct to consumer sales and the webinar series will reflect that. The current list of programs we’re planning on presenting are:
- Trends in the Pandemic Food Economy
- Basics of Running a Food Subscription or Community Supported Agriculture Programs
- Running a Great Farmers Booth Part 1
- Running a Great Farmers Booth Part 2: Display Building & Signage
- Leveling Up Your Food Business: Trade Show Basics
- Website Best Practices for Food Products
- Selling Food Products Wholesale During COVID
- Holiday Selling for Food Producers
That being said, if there’s one thing I think we’ve all learned in the last year is to be flexible. A lot can (and let’s face it, definitely will) change in the coming months, and I want to make sure these programs are relevant, timely, and contain actionable content not just for this moment, but as we put the pandemic in the rearview. Every program makes space for you to engage with me and the SBDC team and if a program isn’t right for the moment, we’ll mix it up.
Stay in contact with the SBDC and they’ll keep you up to date with all the information you need to attend the programs, get the takeaway materials, and to get follow up support.
The first session in this series, Trends in the Pandemic Food Economy, is scheduled for Tuesday, February 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Registration and additional information can be found here.
Be sure to check www.scrantonsbdc.com for updates on future events in this series.