Endless Mountains Farm Fresh

Melissa Haertsch is a freelance copywriter who works for advertising agencies. She also has a passion for the land she lives on, an appreciation for the hard working farmers in her local communit,y and a concern for the food supply.

A few months ago, Melissa Haertsch started her agriculture-based marketing cooperative, Endless Mountains Farm Fresh, and launched her website.

She first came to the University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) after talking to Marilyn Anthony, a local restaurant owner and South East Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA).

Melissa had the idea to organize a group of farmers and producers in Susquehanna County. She wanted to market their farm products, after which they would sell to retail and wholesale customers.

She had seen the success of the Lancaster Farm Fresh group that serves the greater Philadelphia area, and was eager to model her own cooperative after it.

The SBDC consultants talked with Melissa at length about her concept. She laid out the details about her farm, the farmers and producers she was aware of at the time, and where she needed assistance in launching the cooperative. They began by covering the content of the SBDC's start up kit, the First Step. Several crucial things, like the components of a business plan, the marketing plan for the cooperative, and sources of financing for the future, were discussed. The consultants reviewed the farmers she had in mind and gave her suggestions for more.

After that, Melissa felt more secure, knowing that she had enough farmers and producers to offer the general public meat, chicken, vegetables, fruit, honey and cheese, among other things.

The SBDC consultants then advised her to look into the work of the Food Trust in Philadelphia for funding to promote local food. They gave her information from ATTRA, National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, on selling agricultural products.

Melissa was also provided with relevant information from the PASA agricultural conference. The consultants recommended that she talk to the local economic development agency, NEPA Alliance.

Endless Mountains Farm Fresh also looked to add more drop sites. Judging from its journey so far, it is bound to do so successfully.

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Young entrepreneur Melissa Haertsch started Endless Mountains Farm Fresh only a few months ago, and is already on her way to success.