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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Statewide > Supply Chains

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Supply Chains

RSDP is committed to identifying opportunities for small- and medium-sized farmers, businesses, entrepreneurs, processors, and other food and ag system partners to foster relationships and collaborate on research that moves University of Minnesota agricultural innovation out of the lab, into production, and onto our dinner plates.

RSDP's supply chain work:

paper on table top with arm and hand holding marker and writing down ideas
meeting attendees sitting around tables discussing ideas

Constance Carlson

Faculty, staff and researchers came together early in 2017 to connect and discuss supply chain development, opportunities and barriers.


Project examples

Hazelnut Industry Study (2016, Sames, Lanthier, Carlson)

field of growing hazelnut plants

Constance Carlson

From Field to Bottle: RSDP has served as a “hazelnut champion” -- connecting farmers, businesses, and food entrepreneurs to the latest information on Upper Midwest hazelnuts. Hazelnut research plot in Becker, Minnesota.

Facebook post from The Granary Food Co-op with picture of hazelnut products on store shelf

Granary Co-op, Ortonville, Minnesota.

Products made from these new nuts are now appearing on retail shelves around the Midwest.

Research, breeding, and development of a commercially viable hazelnut adapted for the upper Midwest has been underway for over 10 years. As perennial plants, hazelnuts provide myriad benefits to the ecological and agricultural landscape. This study, funded in part by RSDP, analyzed the Upper Midwest hazelnut industry, providing insight into potential successes and pitfalls of this new agricultural crop.

Additional Resources:


Building Supply Chain Networks to Increase Access to Markets for University of Minnesota Specialty Crops (2016-18, Draeger, Carlson)

hand holding black and white dried beans

Constance Carlson

Attendees at the UMN New and Innovative Crop Forum, hosted by RSDP as part of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Supply Chain grant, talk with Matthew Ott, a university researcher working on crop research. This event provided an opportunity for farmers, processors, food businesses and entrepreneurs to connect with the University to learn more about on-going research into new and innovative crops.

hand holding black and white dried beans

Constance Carlson

A new heirloom bean developed for organic production was piloted by organic farmers in 2017. Farmers were given seed to test and then encouraged to work with their existing market buyers (schools, restaurants, CSAs, retailers) to get the beans to consumers.

This project attempts to leverage cross-disciplinary University of Minnesota expertise to build networks between researchers, farmers, culinary professionals, food entrepreneurs, and food/agricultural businesses interested in growing, testing, and piloting University of Minnesota developed and improved specialty crops.

Additional Resources:


The Garlic Project (2017-19, Ford, Carlson)

bunches of garlic being hung in the ceiling of a building to dry

Jerry Ford

Minnesota garlic producer, Jerry Ford, hangs his garlic harvest to “cure” -- a process that preserves the quality and shelf-life of the garlic. Minnesota farmers will have an opportunity to learn more about this at the workshops Ford will be hosting throughout 2018-19.

The Garlic Project is a collaboration between RSDP and the Sustainable Farming Association, supported by a generous grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. This project intends to enhance existing producers’ and new farmers’ profitability by increasing premium garlic production in Minnesota by training them in best production and marketing practices, expanding markets and supply chains, and conducting research on improved cultivation methods.

Additional Resources:


For more examples of our supply chain work, please explore our storymap.

Got a good supply chain idea? Connect with us!
Constance Carlson, carl5114@umn.edu

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