New Leaf Associates works with organizations; local, state, and federal agencies; businesses; cooperatives; and others in the food and agriculture industry. We can consult at any point in the food system and agriculture development process; see more details in the PDF that show steps along the way and the services we can provide at any step.

New Leaf offers a number of specialty consulting areas:

Project Prefeasibility Assessments

Using a rapid assessment approach, we can diagnose organizational or management problems and identify and develop opportunities that help put your project on track toward long-term stability (see typical problems in AgDev.pdf). Prefeasibility assessments can save you time and resources before you commit to expensive feasibility studies or business plans.

Goal Setting and Strategy Development for Your Farm Community

We offer a simple but very effective method of getting members of your farm community on the same page! We start with developing a shared vision for the future of the local farm and food industry, then identify specific strategies for achieving that vision. Finally, we choose indicators for measuring the effectiveness of the strategies and your progress toward the vision. This is a low-cost two-day process that we keep simple and to the point.

Place-based Foods and Geographic Indications (GIs)

An agricultural region that has unique products can benefit from establishing a program to certify its products' provenance (origin) and authenticity (unique quality). As a type of trademark, the certification mark is a "geographic indication" that assures consumers that the product is from a designated region and is produced and processed using specified practices (generally that would mean traditional practices).

New Leaf offers the following services in developing a certification mark program:

Indian River logo
  • Facilitate development of certification or trademark logo and tagline
  • Perform a preliminary certification or trademark search
  • File the mark with the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office
  • Monitor the mark's progress through the registration process
  • Develop a certification mark compliance program, including defining the historic boundary of production and quality or product standards

Regional Food and Agriculture Tourism

Farm to restaurant image

Many agricultural regions across the continent have a fascinating story to tell and possess untapped opportunities for agritourism and culinary tourism. New Leaf has developed a set of tools and services to determine if this potential exists, and, if so, how to profit from it — through interpretive trails, discovery centers, signage, value-added products, and farm-based recreation and hospitality.

Working with Agricultural Industry Clusters

Mushroom Industry Cluster

Agriculture industry clusters are groups of networked value chains — input suppliers, farmers, farm labor, processors, cooperatives, and distributors. There are many agriculture industry clusters in North America. Some are highly integrated specialty crop clusters, such as the wild blueberry barrens and cranberry bogs of New England, and the California Fresno raisin and Hawaii Kona coffee districts. Others are farm clusters that comprise diverse organic farms, cooperatives, and other affinity groups with shared interests or goals. They may be formally or informally networked. New Leaf offers a number of tools and strategies for helping both types of clusters address challenges and maximize their potential.

Agricultural Heritage Areas

If a region or agriculture industry cluster has extraordinary history, a unique working landscape with clearly defined geographic boundaries, unique production practices, and world-class farm products, it might consider establishing a heritage area. Heritage areas can be designated by a local community, a state, or the federal government.

In certain cases, a heritage area is designated and supported by local, regional, state or even national governments. As an example, see the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt Heritage Area at

Agriculture Cluster Retention and Expansion (ACRETM)

The Agriculture Cluster Retention and Expansion (ACRETM) concept is based on two highly successful organizational and market development strategies: industrial cluster development (ICD) and business retention and expansion (BR&E).

Specialty crop or product clusters seem to suffer particularly from unstable prices, environmental concerns, labor issues, and sometimes internal conflicts surrounding these and other issues. Nonspecialty crop or product clusters often struggle with organizational and supply chains issues. The ACRETM program brings all the stakeholders together to work through issues and identify new opportunities that increase the cluster's economic viability and overall sustainability. Using New Leaf's food system and agriculture development process, ACRETM brings the cluster stakeholders together to develop a vision of where they want to go and how to get there.

ACRETM is a technical assistance program for building specialty-crop clusters' capacity for adaptation and sustainability. This includes fostering a culture of trust and excitement about the future, and providing leadership development, organizational development, and economic development tools such as business retention and expansion techniques, case studies, and recommended policies.

A few examples of cluster economic development strategies in an ACRETM plan might include:

  • Joint ventures and partnerships in new technology development
  • Collaborative labor recruitment and training
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • New business recruitment (e.g., a container maker)
  • Joint promotion programs
  • Joint purchasing programs
  • Crop reduction program
  • Value-adding and diversification strategies
  • State and local tax policies (incentives)
  • Financing economic development (investments, grants, loans)
  • Agricultural heritage area development
  • Geographic indications programs