“Experience is the best teacher,” a saying goes, and Zane Trace Ag Business students learned a lot through their experience of marketing and processing a food product this fall.     

     As part of the Zane Trace FFA chapter fall funFFA logodraiser, class members created a business and marketing plan for 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 an event in which fellow agriculture students were provided with a sample of their product to generate interest.

     Orders for the jelly and other fundraiser items were accepted from Oct. 8 to Nov. 5, with the class selling 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 learning jelly making and food safety and sanitation practices, they processed 9 jars on their first day. They realized that they would need to speed up production to meet their quota by Dec. 7 so they divided into teams and evaluated their operation daily. After one week they were able to increase production to 27 jars per day.  

     In addition to processing the jelly, students learned  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.