ALEI August Webinar Series on Branding Strategies, Highlighting Local BIPOC Farmers


Close up of a sunflower
Photo Credit: Felice Hodge Denison, Primo Noir Farm

In August 2021, ALEI will host a three-part webinar series to discuss branding strategies for farmers, “Harnessing Your Farm’s Story to Build a Successful Farm Brand.” These webinars will revisit topics covered in the Legal Guide to Direct Farm Marketing for Maryland Specialty Crop Growers, which was published in December 2020 by ALEI team members Sarah Everhart and Margaret Todd. However, instead of covering all the topics in the Legal Guide, these 90-minute sessions will be opportunities to help farmers strengthen their farm marketing strategies by hearing from BIPOC farmers about their branding journeys and learning about the legalities of branding, digital marketing, and protecting intellectual property.


Developing a consistent and appealing farm brand can be a key step to attracting consumers, and hopefully gaining loyal customers. Increased direct marketing of farm products is a clear trend over the past several years, as seen in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2017 agricultural census data. Additionally, changes in consumer habits over the past year forced many local farm businesses to adapt and pivot marketing and sales practices as customers shifted to online ordering and sought more options for purchasing local produce. When shoppers are browsing their options online using social media or search engines, a clear and well-thought-out farm story can make the difference.


Over three Wednesdays in August, attendees will have an opportunity to hear

from four farmers and two attorneys focusing on vital aspects of building up a farm brand. This first webinar in the series will be on August 4, 6:00 – 7:30 PM and will cover Branding Strategies from BIPOC Farmers. Speakers Michael Carter, Jr., (Carter Farms, Virginia) and Doug Adams (New Brooklyn Farms, Maryland) will discuss steps farmers can take to identify their story as a platform for building up their farm brand and share their own experiences taking their visions into reality. The second webinar in the series, Legal Considerations for Digital Marketing from BIPOC Farmers, (August 11, 6:00 – 7:30 PM), will feature Felice Hodge Denison (Primo Noir Farm, Maryland) and Nicole Cook, ALEI Senior Legal Specialist and will focus on key laws and regulations to keep in mind for branding and marketing strategies. And during the final webinar in the series, Building & Protecting Your Intellectual Property (August 25, 6:00 – 7:30 PM), attendees will hear from Xavier Brown (Soilful City Farm, Washington, D.C.) and Corinne Pouliquen, an Intellectual Property Attorney (Berenato & White, LLC) regarding the ways farmers can protect the intellectual property that is developed during business branding and marketing efforts or from creating unique products.


One of the goals of this series is to feature local BIPOC farmers from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. who can share their experiences and knowledge with building their own farm brand identity, pursuing digital marketing channels, and taking stock of their intellectual property. According to USDA 2017 ag census, BIPOC farmers own approximately 10% of farms nationally, and that rate drops to only 6.4% of farms in Maryland and 5.6% in Virginia. Data also shows that BIPOC farmers tend to operate on smaller than average plots of land, and with an approximate average of 12-19% of BIPOC farmers directly marketing their products. Nonetheless, it is well known that farmer and farmworker populations across the nation are diverse and include immigrants, migrants, and others from all over the world, often from agricultural backgrounds, and each with distinct skills, knowledge, histories, and lived experiences. (See Union of Concerned Scientist Policy Brief: Leveling the Fields) Holding an event to highlight the efforts and successes of local BIPOC farmers is just one of the ways ALEI can work to ensure the unique needs and perspectives of all farmers are heard and acknowledged.


For more information and to register for this event, visit https://sites.google.com/umaryland.edu/aleiaugust-2021-webinar-series/register. Anyone with questions can contact Megan Todd (motodd@law.umaryland.edu).


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