Target Grade Level / Age Range:


Estimated Time:

               90 minutes  


Students will develop a marketing plan to sell a product made from a specialty crop.


  • Paper for Logo/Label
  • Student Computers (for multimedia item)
  • Art Supplies (for logo/label design)

Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)


Cottage Rules: The rules and regulations that allow individuals to cook, bake, and prepare foods in their home and sell them to the public (Cottage Foods).

Marketing Manager: A marketing manager is in charge of overseeing the marketing or advertising activities for a company, brand, or product. A marketing manager may create social media posts, newsletters, advertisements, plan events, and create commercials. They also analyze data related to sales and advertisements to adjust their approaches. Marketing managers also create budgets for marketing campaigns and creating advertisements.

Viticulture: The cultivation and harvesting of grapes.

Specialty Crop: Fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

Horticulture: The branch of plant agriculture dealing with garden crops, generally fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants.

Background – Agricultural Connections

A marketing manager is in charge of overseeing the marketing or advertising activities for a company, brand, or product. A marketing manager may create social media posts, newsletters, advertisements, plan events, and create commercials. They also analyze data related to sales and advertisements to adjust their approaches. Marketing managers also create budgets for marketing campaigns and creating advertisements. Agricultural marketing can spur the growth of markets, farm income, and the agriculture industry. Marketing managers help agriculture by helping to advertise and market agricultural products, which in turn grows the markets that those products are sold in. Additionally, marketing managers can help farmers boost their farm income by helping them to effectively market their products either directly to consumers or indirectly through other businesses.

Cottage foods are foods that are prepared in a residence that is not subject to licensing or inspection. Cottage foods and their associated rules are especially important to agriculture because they allow additional avenues for crops to be sold. For example, specialty crops in Iowa are more suited to be grown in smaller quantities, which can make them harder to market and sell. Cottage foods and rules allow growers to create food items with their specialty crops and sell them to the public, without having to pay large amounts of money to become licensed to sell food products. This helps to boost agriculture and specialty crops, as it allows growers to grow, sell, and create with their crops in a less restrictive environment.

In Iowa, cottage foods must meet the following requirements:

  • The food is prepared in a private residence
  • The food does not require temperature control to ensure safety  
  • The food is sold directly from the producer to the consumer
  • The food is properly labeled

In most states cottage foods are: cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pies, breads, jams, jellies, preserves, pie fillings, dry nuts, dry cereals, granola, popcorn, kettle corn, dry cake mixes, dry bread mixes, dry cookie mixes, candies, and coffee.

Cottage foods must be properly labeled to be sold to the public. The labels must contain the following information:

  • Information to identify the name and address, phone number, or email address of the person preparing the food
  • The common name of the food
  • The ingredients in descending order of predominance
  • The following statement: “this product was produced at a residential property that is exempt from state licensing and inspection.”
  • If the food contains one or more major food allergens (eggs, nuts, soy, peanuts, milk, wheat, fish, or shellfish), an additional allergen statement must be included on the label identifying each major allergen contained in the food by the common name of the allergen
  • If the food is home-processed and home-canned pickles, vegetables, or fruits permitted under this section, the date that the food was processed and canned.

For more specific Iowa Cottage Rules, visit Iowa Cottage Food Law.pdf (ieggs,

The Farm Bill defines specialty crops as, “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture).” Eligible plants must be cultivated or managed and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and /or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops. For a full list of common specialty crops and ineligible crops, visit What is a Specialty Crop? | Agricultural Marketing Service ( Common specialty crops in Iowa are vegetables, apples, grapes, and Christmas trees! Learn more about these crops here: Agriculture 101: Specialty Crops | Iowa Agriculture Literacy (

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. Ask students, “what are some ways we could find out about products if there were no advertisements?”
    • Potential Student Responses: from a friend, walking through the grocery store, social media, influencers, YouTube videos
  2. Record responses where all students can see and discuss the limitations for each method.
    • For example, if a student responds, “from a friend” ask the class, “how many people could a company reach if everyone heard about a product from a friend?” Discuss that this would not be very effective, as products are sold quickly in large areas, and word of mouth would likely be a slow method of communication about a product.
    • Another example is if a student responds with “social media” or “influencers.” Mention that this is a widely used method of advertising and discuss that while this is effective for some there are limitations to this method. Some people don’t use social media at all, are not on some platforms, or don’t follow certain influencers.



  1. Introduce Marketing Manager career poster to students and allow them to read through it individually. After reading, have the students come back together for a large group discussion about the poster. Ask students for a summary of what a marketing manager does and how this job allows consumers to discover and purchase new products.
    • Potential student responses: a marketing manager makes social media posts to advertise a new product. This allows us to find out about products while we scroll social media.
  2. After discussing what a marketing manager is and does, ask students what makes advertisements effective and record their answers on the board. Let students know that they will be incorporating this information later on in the activity.
    • Potential student responses: attention grabbing, memorable slogan, uses more pictures and less words, etc.
  3. Have students recall what they have learned about viticulture and specialty crops in the *Crop Manager and Food Scientist Lessons and discuss how a marketing manager might be integral in the process of selling a specialty crop product.
    • *Optional: If students have not learned about viticulture, ask them what they think it is, then explain that viticulture is the cultivation of grapevines. Also explain that grapes are a specialty crop, which are “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture).”  Consider using the IALF blog post Agriculture 101: Specialty Crops | Iowa Agriculture Literacy ( to help with this explanation.
  4. Highlight that specialty crops are often produced at a lower volume, especially in Iowa, and do not receive the attention that more common commodities do. Marketing managers and marketing plans can increase visibility for specialty crops and their sales.
  5. Introduce cottage rules by mentioning to students that local specialty crops are often sold in different forms (such as grapes are often sold as grape jelly at markets) which are made in people’s homes, making them cottage food.
  6. Pass out the cottage rule guideline sheet to students and talk through all the parts that are required to be labeled on a cottage food product
  7. Show students an example of a cottage food label and walk through each requirement on the label


  1. Explain to students that for this next activity they will be in groups and acting as a marketing manager for their “company” and creating a marketing plan for a product made with a specialty crop. In addition to their marketing plan, they will need to create a label for the product using the cottage rules, a logo for their company, as well as an advertisement for the product. (Hand out the Student Instruction Sheet, and grading rubric to aid students in completing the activity)

  2. Place students in groups of 3-4 and have each group draw one specialty crop card.

    1. Cards have information about the crop, including its common uses.

  3. From the listed common uses or one they come up with, groups will determine one product to make with their crop.

  4. Groups will now work to create a write-up of their marketing plan. This is a 5-7 paragraph write-up containing information about their company, the crop they selected, their product, product ingredients, and how they plan to advertise.

    • Allow students to research their crop/product to complete this task (resources provided on Student Instruction Sheet)

  5. Groups will then create a logo for their company and a label (using the cottage rule guidelines) for their product.

    • For this portion, students can choose what media they would like to use (ex. Paper/art supplies, Canva, Word, etc.)

  6. Groups will also create a multi-media piece advertising their product (examples include an ad graphic, social media post, video, etc.)

    • Students should use online programs for this section (Word, Canva, etc.)

    • Advertisements will need to contain three of the effective techniques that the class discussed earlier and an element illustrating how the crop is cultivated (ex. Wording or imagery describing how the crop is grown. For an apple, this could be a video ad saying “Grown in the orchards of Winterset, IA” or a picture of an orchard with ad text as a social media graphic)

  7. Groups will then present their marketing plan (logo, label, multi-media piece) to the class.

    • This can be done by having groups come to the front of the room when it is their turn to present. Groups should first introduce their company by presenting their logo.

    • Second, groups should introduce what specialty crop they had and the product they chose to make, then present their label. When presenting the label, students should be sure to explain all the pieces of the label included to adhere to the Cottage Rules.

    • After introducing the product and label, groups should present their advertisement as the final piece of their marketing plan.

    • During presentations, have students utilize the rubric and grade their peer’s presentations. 


  1. Groups will be scored on the presentation, ad, label, and marketing plan using the Rubric - Marketing Manager Lesson.docx.

Did you know? (Ag facts)

  • Iowa has a Specialty Crop Growers Association that provides membership for specialty crop growers across the state Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association
  • In 2012, the Midwest specialty crop industry was valued at $4.7 billion

Extension Activities

  • Bring in local cottage foods and have students evaluate the labels
  • Have students research agricultural companies and their marketing managers/teams
  • Bring in a store-bought and cottage food version of the same item (ex. bread, pickles, pie, etc.) and have students taste, then compare/contrast the properties of each item
  • Based on the specialty crop students have chosen, have them research the soil type in which that crop grows best and identify regions in Iowa where the crop could be grown using soil maps

Suggested Companion Resources


  • Agribusiness Education & Research International

  • Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
  • USDA – Agricultural Marketing Service
  • Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing


               Alexandra Osborn            

Organization Affiliation


Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics:
    1. T4.9-12: Provide examples of how processing adds value to agricultural goods and fosters economic growth both locally and globally.
  • Food, Health, and Lifestyle:
    1. T3.9-12: Accurately read labels on processed food to determine nutrition content

Iowa Core Standards

  • Literacy
    1. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. (W.9-10.2) (DOK 3,4)
      • Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension. (W.9-10.2.a) (DOK 3,4)
      • Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic. (W.9-10.2.d) (DOK 3,4)
    2. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task. (SL.9-10.4) (DOK 1,2,3)
    3. Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest. (SL.9-10.5) (DOK 2,3)