Implementing the Nantucket Grown™ brand

Sponsor: Sustainable Nantucket
Sponsor Liaison: Morgan Beryl & Laura Villasenor
Student Team: Kellie Chadwick, Brett Limone, Hannah Pacheco
Abstract: The goal of this project was to assist Sustainable Nantucket in the development of its Nantucket Grown(TM) brand, which is designed to encourage the consumption of food produced on Nantucket. We conducted extensive background research on existing local food programs in New England, interviewed local growers, restaurateurs, and value-added vendors, and met regularly with Sustainable Nantucket staff to develop appropriate membership criteria, an application process, and a review system to uphold the integrity of the brand.
Link: Implementing_the_NG_Brand_12.15


Executive Summary


The agricultural system in the United States has changed beyond recognition in the past century. Industrialization has brought about the dissolution of the small farm, creating large factory farms. Large industrial farming depends on monoculture production, excessive use of chemicals as fertilizers and pesticides, and the consumption of large quantities of energy through harvesting, processing, and transporting products across the nation.

Many people, including scientists and policy makers, have been raising various concerns about the harms caused by industrial agriculture. The economic, environmental, health, and social impacts of industrial agriculture have together, created a promotion of a movement in support of sustainable agriculture. There has been a resurgence in the popularity of ‘slow foods,’ as opposed to fast foods, which are healthier and are not processed as much. Local food plays a part in this as growers and their farmers markets and community supported agriculture programs allow anyone to access fresh locally grown foods, that were not shipped great distances or treated with harmful chemicals. Various local food organizations have arisen to help educate the consumer on the benefits of fresh local food, and to promote its consumption in food service establishments and other institutions. One such organization that aims to promote a localized, self reliant, and healthy food system is Sustainable Nantucket. One way Sustainable Nantucket is trying to achieve this goal is through the development of the Nantucket GrownTM brand. The Nantucket Grown Brand™ is a visual branding campaign meant to inform the consumer that the product being branded uses locally grown ingredients. This brand is intended to encourage the purchase and consumption of foods grown on the island, in turn promoting a more localized system of agriculture.


The ultimate goal of our project was to help Sustainable Nantucket develop the different elements of the Nantucket Grown program. Our project focused on the involvement of local growers, value-added vendors, and food-service establishments. We identified three objectives to complete in order to create this program. First, we had to create a set of qualifying criteria for members to get involved. Second, we created an application process to ensure that applicants qualify for the program. Finally, we composed a review system to make sure that those involved were upholding their responsibilities. To accomplish these objectives, we researched assorted existing local food programs throughout New England, surveyed or interviewed locals that are potential members of the program, and met regularly with Sustainable Nantucket staff in order to develop the program to their needs.


From research of existing programs similar to the proposed Nantucket Grown program, surveys and interviews, and conversations with our sponsor, we created a program that is based on the criteria that we developed. Growers must grow all produce that is labeled Nantucket Grown on island farms. They must also participate in the Sustainable Nantucket Farmers and Artisans Market. Value-added vendors must also participate in the market, pay an annual membership fee, and they may only market their products as Nantucket Grown if they contain the minimum amount of locally grown ingredients. Food-service establishments’ acceptance to the program is based on the percent of their budget that they spend on locally grown food. They must also pay an annual membership fee.

For each group of members – growers, food-service industry, and value-added vendors – we created an application form, a welcome letter, a membership agreement, and two bi-annual reviews. These materials and their content vary according to the criteria that we developed for each member group. The applications contain simple questions that determine whether or not members meet their respective criteria. The food-service industry application is supplemented by a review system for Sustainable Nantucket to determine whether or not they qualify for the program. Upon acceptance, members will receive a welcome letter, which further describes the program, and a membership agreement, which outlines the responsibilities and membership benefits of the program. We also developed a bi-annual review system where members submit documents twice per year to prove to Sustainable Nantucket that they are continuing to meet the program criteria, and remain committed to the program. This allows Sustainable Nantucket to uphold the integrity of the brand and ensure the members continue to meet the program criteria. Our program qualifications are less restrictive than those of existing programs because of the time and staff resources available at Sustainable Nantucket, the number of prospective members, and the general relaxed lifestyle of Nantucket’s society. As the program matures, the requirements may become more rigorous, allowing Sustainable Nantucket to further push towards sustainability

Conclusions and Recommendations

With our suggested program developed, Sustainable Nantucket now has all the tools needed to implement the Nantucket Grown brand. By implementing this program, they can promote locally grown foods, and push towards completing their mission of a healthier Nantucket, a more self-reliant food system, and a stronger local economy.

The program that we have created was developed with future changes and more restrictive qualifications in mind. To further the success of the Nantucket Grown program, we recommend that Sustainable Nantucket take into account the following:

Encourage or Require More Contracts with Growers

By creating a contract between businesses and growers, the growers will have a specific goal that they must meet, and guaranteed business if they do reach it. Many growers would like to see a community-supported agriculture-like program where businesses will subscribe and pay in advance each season to receive produce on a regular basis.

Implement More Stringent Requirements

The requirements that we have suggested in our membership agreements are not very difficult to meet. In order to ensure the integrity of the brand, these requirements must be made stricter. This cannot be done right away and should probably be implemented gradually, with notice to members.

Administer the Application Online

Our original goal was to have an online application form. However, in order to host a service like this online, Sustainable Nantucket must alter their website in order to distribute the necessary forms.

Implement a more Thorough Policing Process

Due to the limited time and staff resources at Sustainable Nantucket, the program that we originally recommended only calls for bi-annual updates from members. For the program to reach its full potential, it may be necessary to ask for more detailed financial information or for Sustainable Nantucket staff to go visit each place of business and make sure that they are using the brand properly.

Encourage More Networking

Other than advertising from Sustainable Nantucket and the Nantucket Grown seal of approval, we feel that networking opportunities would be beneficial to members. The Island Grown Initiative hosts dinners for the growers involved in their program and we hope that this is something Sustainable Nantucket will consider doing in the future.

Inspect and Approve Value-Added Products Individually

Sustainable Nantucket does not have to approve any value-added items. We believe it would be best if each product were approved by Sustainable Nantucket individually before being labeled with the Nantucket Grown™ logo.

Encourage more Sustainable Practices

Any sustainable practices are not currently required for members. Staff could design some programs or workshops for members so that they can learn more about sustainable practices, in an effort to meet the goals of Sustainable Nantucket.

Create a Tiered Membership Program for Food-Service Establishments

There is a range of interest and commitment to locally grown foods on Nantucket, and tiers may be a feasible addition to the program. Sustainable Nantucket may want to implement these levels in order to communicate the effectiveness of their program to the restaurateurs themselves, and to their patrons.

Survey Members after the Initial Year of the Nantucket Grown Program

There is a range of interest and commitment to locally grown foods on Nantucket, and tiers may be a feasible addition to the program. Sustainable Nantucket may want to implement these levels in order to communicate the effectiveness of their program to the restaurateurs themselves, and to their patrons.