DOAG: Update on the Connecticut Grown Marketing Program

This article appeared in the April 24, 2013 edition of the Ag Report
 
 
Update on the Connecticut Grown Marketing Program

Mark Zotti, Marketing Unit

 

In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain wrote, “many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”  This comment holds true in Connecticut, which may be the third smallest state based on land mass in the United States, but is big on agriculture.

 

Much can be credited to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg)’s Connecticut Grown marketing program. It was developed in 1986, when the now-familiar green and blue logo was created to identify agricultural products grown in the state.

 

Over the past two decades, through Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) Section 22-38a, the Connecticut Grown marketing program has blossomed into a multifaceted campaign that promotes Connecticut Grown farm products through a diverse array of avenues in local, regional, national, and international markets.

 

DoAg’s Marketing Unit is charged with offering incentives that benefit Connecticut’s agricultural producers, consumers, and economy. The unit has a foundation of programs available yearly, as well as special incentives available on a limited basis depending on  funding sources. All Connecticut farmers are encouraged to participate in one or more components of the Connecticut Grown marketing program.

 

The Connecticut Grown logo has been a mainstay in Connecticut for 27 years. This logo is available for use in promoting any Connecticut Grown farm product, as defined by CGS Section 22-6r(7):

 

"Farm products" means any fresh fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, shell eggs, honey or other bee products, maple syrup or maple sugar, flowers, nursery stock and other horticultural commodities, livestock food products, including meat, milk, cheese and other dairy products, food products of aquaculture", as defined in subsection (q) of section 1-1, including fish, oysters, clams, mussels and other molluscan shellfish taken from the waters of the state or tidal wetlands, products from any tree, vine or plant and their flowers, or any of the products listed in this subdivision that have been processed by the participating farmer, including, but not limited to, baked goods made with farm products.

 

The logo is commonly seen at agricultural events and on apparel, signage, and vehicles statewide.  It is available as JPG and EPS files from DoAg’s website at www.ctgrown.gov/ctgrown. 

 

The Connecticut Grown logo can be seen in many retail establishments offering local flavors. These products are often advertised on site using DoAg’s point-of-purchase (POP) materials.  DoAg provides 5”x7” price cards, in pads of 50, free of charge. To request a pad, fill out a POP request form.

 

Another marketing tool that prominently displays the Connecticut Grown logo is the pop-up canopies used at temporary events, farmers markets, and farm stands throughout the state. These popular 10’ x 10’ canopies provide portable shelter for farmers offering their wares while promoting Connecticut Grown logo. Canopies will be available for purchase April 24 and 25 (see details on Page 4).

 

The Connecticut Grown marketing program offers a variety of publications that act as both educational and promotional items.  One popular educational publication provided by DoAg is the Connecticut Grown Crop Calendar, an easy-to-understand format that provides approximate availability dates of fruits and vegetables commonly grown in Connecticut.

 

Other publications include brochures and marketing publications that direct consumers to Connecticut producers. These listings, which can be found on DoAg’s Publications and Reports page, include agri-tourism, dairy producers, farm stand/stores, farmers’ markets, honey producers, meat producers, pick-your-own farms, poultry and egg producers, wholesale producers, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and USDA National Organic Program certified organic growers.

 

Drivers on Connecticut state roads may come upon one of 234 agricultural directional signs prominently displaying the Connecticut Grown logo and graphics representing products offered by the farm.

 

A collaborative project of DoAg and DOT, these signs provide enhanced visibility for Connecticut farms that have retail stands/stores located off of Connecticut state roads.  DoAg currently offers cost-share funding to approved farmers through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, which will cover up to 50% of the cost of sign design and installation.  (Cost-share will be available until funding is exhausted.)

 

Connecticut Grown grant funding is currently available for projects that increase the visibility and promotion of Connecticut Grown farm products through the use of the Connecticut Grown logo. The Joint Venture Program is a cost-share grant available to commodity associations, agricultural non-profits, and municipalities (including agricultural commissions and farmers’ markets) that provides a 50% match of up to $2,995 in reimbursement for approved projects.  Applications will be accepted until May 13, 2013.  For more information, please visit www.CTGrown.gov/grants. 

 

The Farm-to-School Program, referenced in CGS Section 22-38d, provides a wholesale outlet to Connecticut farmers while providing Connecticut Grown fresh fruits and vegetables in school cafeteria meals and snacks.  The program’s goals are to develop new markets for local farms and to offer fresher, local produce for school lunch programs. 

 

Getting Connecticut Grown products into school cafeterias is a win-win situation for farmers, schools, and students.  It can help meet the newest guidelines to improve student health and nutrition while increasing marketing opportunities and income for Connecticut farmers.   

 

DoAg offers colorful Farm to School point-of-sale signage for participating schools, which helps children connect what they are eating with the farm it came from. Eating healthier lunches and snacks at school is one way to improve the diets of young people--and helps to preserve farms while stabilizing the local food supply.  

 

Marketing is an important part of every business. DoAg’s Connecticut Grown marketing program was developed “to promote the marketing of farm products grown and produced in Connecticut for the purpose of encouraging the development of agriculture in the state.”

 

Effectively marketing a large variety of farm products is a challenge; the agency meets it through a diverse assortment of programs.  DoAg recognizes advances in marketing, media, and technologies, and looks for new and innovative ways of promoting Connecticut Grown farm products.

 

The Connecticut Grown marketing program will continue to promote the usage of Connecticut’s open space to create food and jobs and be a valuable component of the local economy. The success of the agricultural sector has a direct impact on everyone that lives and works in Connecticut. Through easy accessibility and personal service, DoAg provides something for all agricultural producers in the state.

 

Questions related to any of the programs mentioned in this article can be directed to DoAg’s Marketing Unit at 860-713-2503 or DoAg.Marketing@ct.gov.