Obligations & Benefits of NSFT Membership
North Star Farm Tour member farms pay $150 annually and agree to:
- Join or maintain membership in State-sponsored farm-to-consumer value-add marketing initiatives Minnesota Grown or Something Special From Wisconsin (NSFT’s membership is pending approval).
- Complete Safer FACEs Training to host safe agritourism events (SaferFaces@state.mn.us)
- Sign the Minnesota Dept. of Health Agritourism Best Practices Checklist for North Star Farm Tour files.
- Comply with State Board of Animal Health, Dept. of Health, and Dept of Agriculture regulations pertaining to farm operation and on-farm agritourism activities, including food licensing.
In return, members received voting membership in a unique 501c3 educational nonprofit organization founded to professionalize agritourism as a sustainable farm product under the mission: “Connecting People, Farms & Fiber.”
- Eligible to benefit from partnerships with public & nonprofit organizations in coalition with NSFT (In 2019, over $14,000 in cash grants and over $24,000 in-kind as of Sept. 25 from Minnesota Grown; Something Special From Wisconsin; MN Dept. of Agriculture; Textile Center; MN Dept. of Health; Upper Midwest Ag Safety & Health Center (UMASH); Culligan Red Wing and Northfield; U of M Extension; MN State College Southeast Sustainable Food & Farming Program; Land Stewardship Project; Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation; Farm Bureau Financial Services; Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, Inter-Cultural Mutual Assistance Association (IMAA) of Rochester, the Norwegian Honorary Consulate.
- Eligible to benefit from corporate sponsorships gifted to North Star Farm Tour marketing of member farms (Culligan Red Wing; Culligan UltraPure of Northfield; Menard’s; Fluegel Farm, Garden & Pet, Mayo Clinic Health System – $6,700 as of Sept. 15, 2019.
- Eligible to apply for & receive grant funds and sponsorships through NSFT as a fiscal agent with Board approval.
- Eligible to receive grant funds for participation in Board-approved projects. An example is the $25,000 3-yr Sustainable AGRI-Grant that will be distributed in equal block grants of $615 each year to 13 farms that registered by the grant deadline in Dec. 2018 and agreed to conditions of participation.
- Eligible to showcase agritourism events, educational opportunities, & farm products on an exclusive member web page with links to sell farm products on the farm, at retail stores, at festivals, at online stores year-round.
In 2019, members received the following Board-managed services:
- Opportunity to participate with Development, Program, Promotion, or Farm & Fiber Education Committees.
- Communications designed to inform members about agritourism-related news that affects their business (digital member updates, surveys, virtual and in-person meetings, learning opportunities).
- Every member will receive a State of Minnesota-sponsored Farm Safety & Health Initiative package that is theirs as long as they maintain membership in NSFT: handwashing station with multi-lingual signage; welcome banner custom printed for their farm; free laminated signs from MDH distributed by NSFT to every farm; emergency procedure signage complying with State recommendations; promotional support for the investments in safe agritourism; government relations communication with State and Regional agencies serving residents of Minnesota and Wisconsin to stay informed about changes in law that may affect the farm.
- Monitoring of State Recommendations for Farm Liability with recommendation that every member consult the agent or broker of their choice to review private coverage annually.
- Website design & management, including interactive mapping and farm features
- Social Media promotion on Facebook & Instagram featured individual farms as well as the tour as a whole
- Graphic design, writing & publication of tour materials
- Distribution of 5,000+ brochures, 5,000 Save-The-Date Cards, & 5,000 Sock Project promo pieces by Minnesota Grown at MN State Fair.
- E-mail marketing via Constant Contact to 585 drawing entrants
- Textile Center distribution of Jensen’s Eblasts to 8,000 members under the partnership agreement at no cost to NSFT.
- Distribution of tour brochures to 35 regional yarn stores.
- Statewide distribution of the 2019 Press Release to media and specialty agricultural, tourism, and related publications
- Media Relations expertise to broaden public awareness and participation of the NSFT website and tour for the benefit of all members (i.e. WCCO-TV “Finding Minnesota” feature Aug. 2, feature articles in the Rochester and Faribault newspapers, “Cocktails & Couture” mention in the metro paper calendars and fashion section).
- Program assistance for interested farms via partnerships with individuals and organizations.
- Participation in the 3nd Annual Farm Tour Drawing, sponsored in 2019 by Minnesota Grown, Land Stewardship Project, Fluegel’s Farm, Garden & Pet, Assurance Feeds, and Textile Center in honor of their 25th Anniversary.
- Promotion of the tour at Shepherd’s Harvest from members’ own booths at no cost to other members
- Opportunity to contribute raw fiber to the 2019 Sock Project, an educational farm-to-finished project. Members participating can sell socks at a profit of at least $12 per pair depending upon mill processing costs for their fleece. A total of 490 pair were milled by Rach-Al-Paca at cost as an in-kind donation. Knitting by Northland Woolens.
- The Sock Project includes an educational PVC poster that displays a real pair of Minnesota Grown co-branded socks. Valued at $60, this display is designed to invite curiosity by visitors of all ages. It will remain the property of the farm as long as they are a member of NSFT.
- The 2019 Farm2Fashion Project with Minnesota designers TIM+THOM and Textile Center offered members a chance to donate processed farm fiber to the design of two haute couture garments. A total of $3,100 in farm fiber and $1,000 in dedicated funds will combine with $5,000 in donated fiber art services from Textile Center and over $5,000 in design and construction from Tim and Thom Navarro for two garments that will be showcased at the 2019 tour and Textile Center’s 25th Gala on Oct. 21. One garment will be gifted to Textile Center by NSFT and the other shall remain the property of NSFT until plans are approved for the sale of the garment. Media relations expert Diane O’Brien joined the team at no cost to the membership.
- Feature stories of member farms and the tour as a whole will be possible due to partnerships with Textile Center (“Textiles on the Town”), Minnesota Grown (“Pick of the Week”), and other publications digital and print that are managed by outreach partners.
- Longitudinal evaluation of the farm member’s experiences with agritourism over the next three years thanks to partnerships with Vermont Law School and the University of Minnesota under the auspices of the State Sustainable AGRI Grant.
It is an important obligation that each member anticipates how to accurately report:
- Attendance at events, especially the annual tour weekend;
- Factors of success that can be counted (i.e. sales, number of people attending demonstrations, number of registrations for on-farm classes, etc.); and,
- Collect stories that can become part of an accurate evaluation of 2019
Every member’s experience is an important piece of the proverbial puzzle as we work together to learn whether agritourism is an enjoyable and profitable – therefore sustainable – agricultural product. We look forward to 2020 and beyond.