While NNFC is not supplying any retail grocery stores this year, the sales provided valuable experience and increased cash flow.
NNFC is looking to sell a french fry cut of sweet potato, supplied by the Sweet Potato Growers Association in Mississippi.
Colverson says, "Based on my years of experience in working with limited-resource farmers, I am excited about NNFC's progress.
NNFC adds value to its leafy greens by washing, chopping, bagging and weighing them.
NNFC chose fresh, leafy greens because there was an undeveloped market niche locally and in schools for them.
Washed, cut and "ready-for-the-pot" features not only provided convenience, but also differentiated NNFC's products from other product lines.
Value-added processing has given NNFC access to markets that would be unavailable with raw products, such as bunches of whole greens.
NNFC's value-added processing, combined with the co-op's bargaining power, allows the cooperative to set a selling price that is fair to customers and, at the same time, provides a reasonable return to its members.
The flip side of value-added processing is that NNFC has had to spend much time and effort acquiring necessary capital, purchasing or leasing equipment, maintaining and repairing the equipment and closely monitoring its quality standards.
NNFC works to assist other small farmers in the community and region as well as its own members.
Members of NNFC candidly discuss their successes and learning experiences with visitors.
The NNFC is now collaborating with other limited-resource, minority cooperatives in developing the Small Farmer Distribution Network.