Wed, 05 Oct 2022 12:00:25 CDT
KC Sheperd, Farm Director, visited with Meredith Scott with the Oklahoma Local Agriculture Collaborative talking about how the OLAC serves to unite partner agencies with agriculture entrepreneurs to recognize and represent the needs of local agribusiness.
The Oklahoma Local Agriculture Collaborative was established to strengthen and grow the capacity of Oklahoma’s local agriculture.
“We are an organization that has recently been established,” Scott said. “We receive federal funding through the Regional Food Assistance Partnership grant through USDA to build Oklahoma Local Ag Collaborative to serve as an organization for local agriculture entities of all kinds.”
Scott said the OLAC is centered around beginning or smaller “homestead style” producers.
“We want to give them as many discounted or free resources such as workshops on how to turn their current practice into a more prosperous business as well as growing their season and expanding their markets,” Scott said. “Our goal is to really help support and build our local agricultural system- especially with our small agricultural entrepreneurs.”
This whole idea, Scott said, sparked from hosting the Oklahoma Local Ag Summit.
“We have been partnering with the Department of agriculture for many years now, since I think 2015, to host this annual conference where we invite all of the agricultural entrepreneurs across the state to one-day training, workshops- we even do some farm tours- and that is offered usually in the winter,” Scott said.
Scott said many producers communicated that they would like to have support year-round.
“So, we created the Oklahoma Local Ag Collaborative and are hosting regional meetings that are a bit smaller and focused on particular regions,” Scott said. “We just finished up our western Oklahoma workshop back in July. It was a huge success. It was our first workshop where we really focused on drought resistance and innovative farm practices that are geared towards issues that western Oklahoma faces, more so than maybe eastern or southeastern Oklahoma.”
Scott said the OLAC central Oklahoma workshop is also coming up on October 12 at The Well in Norman.
“We will be focusing a lot on concerns and issues that our central Oklahoma producers have identified,” Scott said. “Really trying to look at that urban ag as well as making a business out of your farm.”
At the workshop, Scott said there will be talk about business development, turning a profit, and connecting with the right resources.
“We are also going to be talking about selling beyond the farmer’s market,” Scott said. “Talking about food hubs, selling to restaurants, we are going to have restaurant owners, we are going to have grocery store owners, we are going to have other food hub entities to try and help people see all of the different opportunities for them.”
Scott said the workshop will also go over how to apply for USDA grants that are meant to help producers grow their businesses.
“We also are going to have people who have actually received those grants talk about how they did it and what they learned,” Scott said. “Another thing that is cool about the Oklahoma Local Ag Collaborative is we are trying to do an assessment of all the different resources across the state to support our agriculture system. With that, we have identified some underutilized resources. One great one is that related to grant writing- OSU has an entire team that can help you build a business plan for free or help you review your grant applications.”
Langston University, Scott said, also has a lot of different entities related to supporting a person’s agricultural business for free.
“We really want to help try to get our producers to utilize these valuable resources,” Scott said. “These are very highly educated, successful universities that want to provide more support to grow our system, but they are not being utilized.”
Scott also talked about the value of using Oklahoma-grown products.
Scott said the workshop will be at the Well in Norman, Okla. on Wednesday, October 12, and it is free to register. Registration info can be found on the website oklac.org/events/51
To visit the OLAC Facebook Page, click here.
Click Here to Listen to KC’s full conversation with Meredith Scott talking about the OLAC and their upcoming workshop.