“Experience is the best teacher” as the old saying goes, and Zane Trace Ag Business students are certainly learning a lot through their experience of marketing and processing a food product this fall! As part of the Zane Trace FFA Chapter Fall Fundraiser, members of the class created a business and marketing plan for a single food product that they would be responsible for all steps of processing: grape jelly. The students created a business plan, budgeted income and expenses and identified potential obstacles and ways to overcome them. They also planned a “sampling” event in which fellow agriculture students were provided with a sample of their product to generate interest. Orders for the jelly along with other fundraiser items were accepted between October 8th and November 5th. When the final numbers were tallied the class had sold 139 half pint jars of grape jelly, 19 more than they had budgeted for originally!
The next challenge for the students was to develop an efficient method for processing the jelly. After a day of being instructed in the steps to jelly making and learning food safety and sanitation practices, they processed 9 jars on their first day. They quickly realized that they would need to speed up their production in order to meet their quota by December 7th so they divided into teams and evaluated their operation daily. After one week they were able to increase production to 27 jars per day! Currently they are halfway to their final goal of making 144 total jars.
In addition to processing the jelly, students are learning how to inspect the jars for quality and safety, how to properly label them for sale and how to adjust for unexpected challenges (such as a nationwide shortage of canning jars!). All in all, the students have been enthusiastic learners and have really enjoyed putting a business plan into action to raise funds for their FFA Chapter!