The Agri-Entrepreneurship Awards honor FFA members who recognize market opportunities and develop solid business plans which capitalize on them. Awards are available at the chapter, state and national levels.
All Agri-Entrepreneurship Award applicants will receive a rating of bronze, silver, gold, or national winner. Ten National Agri-Entrepreneurship Award winners are selected annually. Each winner receives a $1,000 award and is recognized onstage during the National FFA Convention. The winners’ projects are also featured in a booth at the National FFA Agricultural Career Show. The winners’ FFA chapters also receive a $500 grant to help them promote entrepreneurship in their agriculture programs.
The Agri-Entrepreneurship Program is sponsored by USDA Rural Development as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
Here is a profile on one of this year’s 10 winners…
Brent’s Farm Fresh Produce
Name: Brent Sexton
Chapter: Rockwell City Lytton FFA
Parents: Keith and Barb Sexton
Advisor: Brian Lantz
When Brent Sexton of Rockwell City, Iowa, joined FFA as a freshman, he decided to undertake a vegetable production supervised agricultural experience. The project soon flourished and he discovered that in the aging rural community, there was a definite longing and need for fresh vegetables. Sexton created Brent’s Farm Fresh Produce.
He first began selling produce at the local farmers market, but he also contacted a local grocery story to see if they would be interested in his products. They agreed to sell his sweet corn, pumpkins and gourds.
“The ‘buy local’ campaign is becoming very popular,” Sexton said. “Consumers like to purchase not just locally grown produce but produce that is clean and high in quality. I have a reputation for clean, fresh, high-quality produce.”
Brent’s Farm Fresh Produce offers a wide variety of produce, depending on the growing conditions, including asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green beans, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, melons, okra, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, pumpkins, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips and summer and winter squash. The major crops associated with his business are asparagus, sweet corn, pumpkins and squash.
Sexton also worked with the Rockwell City Lytton school district and Stewart Memorial Hospital food service departments to sell some seasonal produce, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
His consumer base also consists of an older, agricultural-based population that enjoys fresh vegetables but doesn’t have the time, energy and finances to produce their own. With this in mind, Sexton attended a three-hour training session at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship that would allow him to accept WIC and Senior Nutrition Farmer Market coupons.
Sexton is currently a freshman at Iowa State University, studying animal science with a pre-veterinarian option, and continues as owner and operator of Brent’s Farm Fresh Produce.