‘Sweet Grown Alabama’ now accepting membership applications
“Sweet Grown Alabama,” the state’s new agricultural branding program, has officially launched and opened membership applications.
The program’s mission is to enhance marketing opportunities for the state’s farmers by connecting retailers and consumers to Alabama-grown foods and other agricultural products.
The organization of Sweet Grown Alabama was announced in August. The program is run by a non-profit foundation governed by a board of directors, including: Rick Pate, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Jimmy Parnell, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance; and Horace Horn, vice president of external affairs of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.
The board members on Monday traveled to press stops in Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile to share plans for the program and encourage potential members to participate.
Horn last week was honored with Yellowhammer Multimedia’s 2019 Power of Service Award.
“By strengthening agriculture, Sweet Grown Alabama will benefit the entire state,” he has stated. “Agriculture already contributes $70 billion to Alabama’s economy and accounts for more than 500,000 jobs. Sweet Grown Alabama will enhance economic development in rural communities by giving farmers and associated businesses additional resources for marketing.”
Membership incentives include licensing rights to use the Sweet Grown Alabama logo, statewide branding through traditional and social media advertising campaigns and consumer advocacy encouraging local eating and purchasing.
“Gaining members is the first step in a cycle to bring fresh, local, high-quality products to Alabama consumers,” Pate, the Sweet Grown Alabama board president, said in a statement. “We need farmers to brand their products so we can promote them to consumers.”
Ellie Watson is the director of Sweet Grown Alabama. The board is also assisted by an advisory committee made up of farmers, chefs, association representatives and other industry experts.
“In addition to branding their products with the logo, members will be included in an online searchable database coming spring 2020,” Watson explained. “This will be a tool for consumers to locate high-quality Sweet Grown Alabama products near them and will drive traffic to farms, markets, stores and restaurants sourcing local products.”
Membership is not exclusive to Alabama farmers and is open to value-added product makers who use at least 50% Alabama-grown ingredients. There is an associate category for restaurants, retailers, farmers markets, agritourism operations and businesses with a vested interest in Sweet Grown Alabama.
Annual dues are determined on a sliding scale based on farm or company annual sales. Dues range from $100 for a business making less than $50,000 per year to $4,800 for a business making over $10 million annually.
The Alabama Farmers Federation, the state’s largest agricultural organization and a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, is playing a leading role in Sweet Grown Alabama.
“We’re proud to be part of this effort to provide additional marketing opportunities for Alabama farmers,” Parnell said.
“Our goal is to increase demand for Alabama-grown products and improve sales and profitability for farm families,” he continued. “Alabama is among America’s most agriculturally diverse states, and Sweet Grown Alabama gives us a chance to showcase the quality and variety of our products.”
Alabama farmers helped share the story of @Sweet_Grown_AL — and why other growers should apply — during press conferences today.
Thanks to Sirmon Farms, Tate Farms and the Alabama Farmers Market for welcoming media to their property! pic.twitter.com/brbXu9Cw87
— Alfa Farmers (@AlfaFarmers) October 21, 2019
Membership applications for farmers, value-added product makers and associates are available online here.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn