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Are You a Farmer Seeking New Markets? Start Selling to Food Hubs, Groceries, Restaurants and Cooperatives

logopictures_verticalAre you looking to diversify sales beyond the farmers market, CSA and farm stand?    Food hubs, grocery stores, restaurants and cooperatives are looking for your products to meet growing consumer demand for local and sustainably-grown food.  Yet, doing successful business with wholesale buyers requires planning and preparation.  Ensure your success by joining us for ‘Baskets to Pallets’, a comprehensive two day introduction to selling wholesale.  The course will take place on Tuesday, January 24th and Tuesday, January 31st from 10:00am – 4:00pm at Templeton Hall in historic Cooperstown, NY.  The ‘Baskets to Pallets’ course is designed for farmers of all enterprises and will cover building relationships with buyers, customer management and record keeping, pricing, grading and packaging, uniformity and consistency, and food safety, among many other topics!  This fun course includes plenty of hands-on activities and opportunities for peer learning and small group discussion.  The course includes one break-out session for livestock and produce farmers.

The cost of the ‘Baskets to Pallets’ course is $35.00 which enables 2 people per farm to attend. The fee also includes breakfast refreshments and a delicious locally sourced lunch each day.  Lodging has been reserved at the Inn at Cooperstown (one block from Templeton Hall) at a discounted rate of $105.00 plus tax per room.  To take advantage of this special rate, reserve your room by December 23rd.

To register, click here.

Farmers that complete the two day course will be invited to meet wholesale buyers at a Farmer-Buyer Mixer at Brown’s Brewery in Troy, NY on March 6th from 3:00pm – 6:00pm.  The Mixer will provide a structured space for farmers to begin making new business connections and sales opportunities.  The Mixer is free and complementary appetizers will be provided.

Space is limited to 40 participants and early registration is encouraged.   The ‘Baskets to Pallets’ course is co-hosted by the Cornell Small Farms Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie and Otsego Counties and the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE), and funded via Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).

Baskets to Pallets Course Agenda: DAY 1: Tuesday January 24th, 2017

Time Topic Instructor
10:00AM-10:15AM Consumer Trends & the Demand for Local Violet Stone, Cornell Small Farms Program
10:15AM-10:45AM Overview: What is Wholesale Marketing? David Ross, Farmers Web
10:45AM –11:45AM Inform Your Buyers, Build Your Brand  David Ross, Farmers Web
11:45AM – 12:45PM Lunch, locally sourced, included  Networking
12:45-2:15PM Building Relationships With Buyers Violet Stone, Cornell Small Farms Program
David Cox, Cornell Cooperative Extension
Sonia Janiszewski, CADE
2:15PM-2:30PM Break
2:30PM-3:00PM Customer Management & Record Keeping David Ross, Farmers Web
3:00PM-4:00PM Basic Financials Mariane Kiraly, Cornell Cooperative Extension

Baskets to Pallets Course Agenda: DAY 2: Tuesday January 31st, 2017

Time Topic Instuctor
10:00AM-11:30AM Uniformity, Consistency And Scheduling
BREAK-OUT for produce and livestock
 Crystal Stewart & Rich Taber, Cornell Cooperative Extension
11:30AM-NOON Labeling, Grading And Packaging  Crystal Stewart, Cornell Cooperative Extension
NOON–1:00PM Lunch, locally sourced, included  Networking
1:00PM-2:00PM Labeling, Grading And Packaging, Cont  Crystal Stewart, Cornell Cooperative Extension
2:00PM-2:30PM Production Records  Crystal Stewart, Cornell Cooperative Extension
2:30PM-2:45PM Break
2:45PM-3:45PM Meeting Your Market’s Produce Safety Requirements  Erik Kocho-Schellenberg (Unconfirmed)
 3:45PM-4:00PM Evaluation and Closing Violet Stone, Cornell Small Farms Program

For more information, please contact:

  • Violet Stone, Cornell Small Farms Program, vws7@cornell.edu or (607) 255-9227
  • David Cox, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie and Otsego Counties, dgc23@cornell.edu or (518) 234-4303, ext. 119
  • Mariane Kiraly, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, mk129@cornell.edu or (607) 865-6531
  • Sonia Janiszewski, The Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship (CADE), sonia@cadefarms.org or (607) 433-2545

Disenchanted with Direct-Marketing?  Start Selling to Bigger Markets
January 21st, 2017. NOFA NY Conference, Saratoga Springs, NY
NOFA-NY

Tired of selling carrots a bunch at a time?  Selling wholesale has advantages, but it requires totally different marketing strategies.  In this intensive workshop, producers of all enterprises will learn how to market product to wholesale buyers, particularly food hubs, groceries, restaurants and cooperatives.  Through a series of games, activities and presentations, producers will learn how to identify wholesale buyers, draft an elevator speech, practice cold-calling, develop sell sheets, and get websites ready for bulk sales.  Participants that complete the 3 hour intensive will be invited to meet wholesale buyers during a Farmer Buyer Mixers on March 6th, 2017 in Troy, NY to start meeting buyers and making new sales. (See below for more info).  The NOFA NY conference registration is now open.  Register here.  For more information contact Project Coordinator Violet Stone at 607-255-9227 or vws7@cornell.edu.


Are You a Farmer Seeking New Markets? Start Selling to Food Hubs, Groceries, Restaurants and Cooperatives
Two day course will prepare farmers of all enterprises to successfully launch new business relationships

B2P combinedAre you looking to diversify sales beyond the farmers market, CSA and farm stand?    Food hubs, grocery stores, restaurants and cooperatives are looking for your products to meet growing consumer demand for local and sustainably-grown food.  Yet, doing successful business with wholesale buyers requires planning and preparation.  Ensure your success by joining us for ‘Baskets to Pallets’, a comprehensive two day introduction to selling wholesale.  The course will take place on Tuesday, January 24th and Tuesday, January 31st from 10:00am – 4:00pm at Templeton Hall in historic Cooperstown, NY.  The ‘Baskets to Pallets’ course is designed for farmers of all enterprises and will cover building relationships with buyers, customer management and record keeping, pricing, grading and packaging, uniformity and consistency, and food safety, among many other topics!  This fun course includes plenty of hands-on activities and opportunities for peer learning and small group discussion.  The course includes one break-out session for livestock and produce farmers.

The cost of the ‘Baskets to Pallets’ course is $35.00 which enables 2 people per farm to attend. The fee also includes breakfast refreshments and a delicious locally sourced lunch each day.  Lodging has been reserved at the Inn at Cooperstown (one block from Templeton Hall) at a discounted rate of $105.00 plus tax per room.  To take advantage of this special rate, reserve your room by December 23rd.

Farmers that complete the two day course will be invited to meet wholesale buyers at a Farmer-Buyer Mixer at Brown’s Brewery in Troy, New York on March 6th from 3:00pm – 5:00pm.  The Mixer will provide a structured space for farmers to begin making new business connections and sales opportunities.  The Mixer is free and complementary appetizers will be provided.

Space is limited to 40 participants and early registration is encouraged.  To register, click here. Visit http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/wholesale for a detailed description of course topics and instructors. The ‘Baskets to Pallets’ course is co-hosted by the Cornell Small Farms Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie and Otsego Counties and the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE), and funded via Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).

For more information, please contact:

  • Violet Stone, Cornell Small Farms Program, vws7@cornell.edu or (607) 255-9227
  • David Cox, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie and Otsego Counties, dgc23@cornell.edu or (518) 234-4303, ext. 119
  • Mariane Kiraly, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, mk129@cornell.edu or (607) 865-6531
  • Sonia Janiszewski, The Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship (CADE), sonia@cadefarms.org or (607) 433-2545

pp-intro-slide-jpgFarmer Buyer Mixer, Brown’s Brewing, Troy, NY
March 6th, 2017.  3:00pm – 6:00pm

Farmers that complete the two day course will be invited to meet wholesale buyers at a Farmer-Buyer Mixer at Brown’s Brewery in Troy, NY on March 6th from 3:00pm – 6:00pm.  The Mixer will provide a structured space for farmers to begin making new business connections and create sales opportunities.  The Mixer is free and complementary appetizers will be provided. Co-hosted by Farm to Institution NYS (FINYS) and the Agricultural Stewardship Association. More details to be released.

Profitable- bagging birdsConsumer interest in locally raised pastured poultry is high, and many small-scale farmers are working to meet this demand. One challenge these farmers encounter is that there are no federally-inspected slaughterhouses in NY and state-inspected plants are few and far between. So most small commercial producers take advantage of federal legislation allowing producers raising less than 1,000 chickens/year (or less than 250 turkeys) to sell poultry they raise, slaughter and process on their own farm in uninspected facilities. The next problem the small-scale poultry processor faces is getting farm insurance coverage, particularly product liability insurance.

Cooperative Extension of Allegany County provides the required training to meet the needs for small-scale producers. By providing a workshop with hands-on training in the processing of birds and demonstration of proper technique for dressing poultry along with a review requirements for selling poultry under 1000 bird exemption in NYS.

Workshop participants will learn to recognize diseases of public health concern, take basic biosecurity measures, write and implement basic Standard Sanitary Operating Procedures, develop Good Manufacturing Practices and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans, and properly dispose of offal and waste water. The next training will be held Tuesday, June 7, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 3 PM at Wild Geese Farm in Rushford, NY.

There is a $75 fee per farm for the training, pre-registration is required and space is limited.Includes lunch for 2 participants per farm and 1 packet of materials. For more information please contact Lynn Bliven (585) 268 7644 ext. 18 or email lao3@cornell.edu

To register online: https://reg.cce.cornell.edu/OnFarmPoultryProcessing_202

Seattle Farmers MarketAre you an agricultural educator or service provider in New York State interested in supporting farmers seeking to enter food hubs, groceries, restaurants or cooperatives?

The Cornell Small Farms Program and Northeast SARE are pleased to announce a new statewide professional development opportunity. ‘Baskets to Pallets: Preparing Small and Mid-sized Farmers to Enter Food Hubs, Groceries, Restaurants and Cooperatives’, will be offered on April 18th-19th, at the Cornell Plantations Visitor Center in Ithaca, NY.

In this two day Training, the authors of the brand new “Baskets to Pallets” Curriculum will introduce a series of lectures, discussions, activities, videos and other teaching resources designed to prepare small and mid-sized farmers in NY to enter new wholesale markets.

The Curriculum, which consists of 15 – 18 hours of instruction, targets farmers of all enterprises who have been primarily direct-marketing, but are exploring new wholesale markets such as a food hub, grocery, restaurant or cooperative.  The Training begins by introducing two Case Study Farms, based on an actual produce and livestock farm currently operating in NY.  Over the course of the Training, the successive Units will examine the two farms from different angles, enabling trainees to deepen their understanding of the farms’ management, production, and promotion strategies through the lens of ‘wholesale’ marketing.

Logos_VerticalThe “Baskets to Pallets” Training will take place at the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center at the heart of Cornell’s Botanical Gardens in Ithaca, NY.  This modern, “green” building has expansive windows and offers wonderful views of the surrounding Plantations.

The Training is open to 25 educators and agricultural service providers in New York State on a first-come, first-served basis.  Trainees should be ready to engage in ‘active learning’ via role-play, small group discussion and activities.  Locally sourced breakfast refreshments and lunch will be provided.  There is no fee to attend, but trainees must cover their own travel and lodging expenses.

Educators that complete the Training will be provided access to the full Curriculum and Online Resources to adapt for delivery to their local agricultural communities.

The Training is Full.  Join the Market Watch mailing list to learn about future opportunities.   For questions, contact Project Coordinator Violet Stone at vws7@cornell.edu or 607-255-9227.  The Baskets to Pallets Training is supported by Northeast SARE, the Cornell Small Farms Program, and the Local Economies Project.


Basket to Pallets Trainers/ Curriculum Authors

Marketing Module: Laura Biasillo, Broome County CCE; Cheryl Thayer, Harvest NY; Jim Manning, Oneida County CCE; Challey Comer​, NYS Agriculture and Markets

Business Management Module: Steve Hadcock, Albany County CCE; Bob Weybright, ENY Commercial Hort Program; Jesse Strzok, ENY Commercial Hort Program

Production Module: Rich Taber, Chenango County CCE; Crystal Stewart, Extension Vegetable Specialist; Megan Burley, Farm Business Management Educator, Erie County

Food Safety:  Gretchen Wall and Betsy Bihn, Cornell Food Science Dept.

Soft Skills: Bobbie Severson, Cooperative Enterprise Program at Cornell

studentslg-1tpmddl

The Internship includes one day/week of agroforestry field work in the McDaniel’s Nut Grove near Dilmun Hill Student Farm.

Applications Due February 7th

The Cornell Small Farms Program is pleased to announce a job opening for a full time Summer Intern. This position is for a Cornell undergraduate, continuing student and is based in 15A Plant Science Building on the Cornell University Campus with 1 day/week of field work at McDaniel’s Nut Grove.   Stipend ranges from $10 – $12/hour depending on experience. Position runs from late May 2015 to mid-August 2015, but exact dates are flexible.

Major Projects

  • Small Farms Update.  Compile and publish the Small Farms bimonthly newsletter (8,335 subscribers)
  • Small Farm Quarterly. Provide production assistance for the seasonal Small Farm Quarterly Magazine.  This magazine reaches 32,217readers across the Northeast.
  • Social Media & Communications.  Manage Small Farms Program and Beginning Farmers Project Blogs, Facebook & Twitter accounts.  Respond to public inquires via phone, email and Small Farms blog.
  • Website Content & Revision. Manage content at www.smallfarms.cornell.eduand www.nebeginningfarmers.org
  • Special projects:  The 2016 internship may include production assistance with new Small Farm Guides or Publications.
  • Beginning Farmer Profit Team profiles. Compile in-depth profiles of project participants through interviews and online research. Create engaging online profiles of each farm.
  • Assist with agroforestry project work including hands-on field work maintaining the MacDaniels Nut Grove demonstration site

Qualifications: The applicant must have strong writing, editing, and organizational skills. Must have some familiarity with farming or agriculture and an enthusiasm for learning more about small farms in NY. Must be comfortable learning to use computer programs such as WordPress, Constant Contact, Excel, Google Forms and Google Analytics.  Ability to work with others and independently. Experience working outdoors and with basic tools desired.

About the Small Farms Program:  We envision a future where diverse and vibrant urban and rural farms build human capacity, revitalize communities, supply regional food systems, and foster ecological resilience in a changing world.  We do this by encouraging small farms-focused research and extension programs and fostering collaboration in support of small farms.  To learn more about our current initiatives, visit http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/

To apply: To apply, send short letter of interest, resume, and casual writing sample to Violet Stone at vws7@cornell.edu by February 7th, 2016.

 

Fall Webinars Feature Livestock and Produce Farmers

Are you looking to get your farm products into bigger markets?  Local food is in high demand, but with so many possible avenues — grocery stores, food hubs, restaurants, cooperatives — to name a few, it’s not always easy to know which new market will be the best match for your farm business.

To help you better understand how and when to enter new wholesale markets, we’re resuming the popular webinar series Small Farms: New Markets we launched last Spring*.  This October, we’ll hear from a livestock farmer who sells to NYC restaurants via Mosner Family Brands and a vegetable farmer who markets to both upstate food stores and the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn, NY. These farmers will share how they entered these bigger markets and the benefits and challenges of selling ‘wholesale’ versus ‘direct’.

All of the webinars are free and open to the public.   Registration is required.  Upon registering, you’ll receive an email providing a link and instructions for you to access the webinar(s) you signed up for. This webinar series is part of a larger training titled Sparking a Wholesale Revolution: Connecting Small and Mid-sized Farmers to Larger Markets sponsored by NE SARE (Northeast Sustainable Ag Research and Education) and the Cornell Small Farms Program.  Please send inquiries to Project Manager Violet Stone or visit the project website.

*To view archived presentations from the Spring series, please click here.

Monday, October 12th: Noon – 1pm. “Upstate Livestock Farm Reaches NYC Restaurants”  with Stephen Winkler of Lucky 7 Livestock Company and Seth Mosner of Mosner Family Brands

WinklerIn 2000, Stephen Winkler and his family were selling their Lucki 7 Livestock Farm products to neighbors and through local farmers markets, grossing a little over $20,000 annually.  In the years that followed, the rising demand for locally produced food enabled Lucki 7 Farms to start selling to white tablecloth distributors and retailers such as Whole Foods and Wegmans.  Today, the farm’s annual sales include 800-1000 hogs, 35 head of beef, 700 meat chickens, and 7000 dozen eggs a year.  In 2013, Stephen started selling pasture raised hogs and grass fed beef to Mosner Family Brands.  Founded in 1957, Mosner Family Brands is a wholesale meat company based in the Bronx, NY, supplying high quality products to premium food service distributors, distinguished restaurants and high-end retailers. Mosner’s philosophy in partnering with small and mid-sized farmers is to empower them to focus on agriculture and farm management, rather than processing, logistics and other ancillary market-making functions. In doing so, Mosner has helped small family farms scale, become job creators and enhance farm operations through improved and consistent cash flow.  Learn more about how Stephen Winkler and other livestock farmers work with Mosner Family Brands to reach restaurants and retail stores. Register Here.

Monday, October 19th.  Noon – 1pm. “Selling Produce to Groceries” with  Dan Kent of Kent Family Growers

kent-familyDan and Megan Kent, along with a 3-member seasonal crew, rotate organic cash crops with cover crops on 20 acres near the St. Lawrence River in the town of Waddington, NY.  Although they sell some of their produce through direct-marketing channels such as the Canton Farmers Market and a 40 week CSA, they have diversified their marketing mix to include a variety of wholesale outlets as well.  They sell to several local food stores, including the Potsdam Food Coop and Nature’s Storehouse, a natural foods store in Canton.  They also have their produce trucked down to Brooklyn where they have business connections with the Park Slope Food Coop, Perelandra Natural Food Center and Flatbush Food Coop.  In this presentation, Dan Kent will share how he made connections with his wholesale customers, and describe any changes he made in infrastructure, packaging, labeling, invoicing and production to meet the needs of his wholesale clients.  Register Here. 

Veterans in Ag Summit Registration Open

Are you a veteran farming in New York State, or an organization serving farmer veterans? The Cornell Small Farms Program is pleased to announce an interactive meeting just for you — the NY Veterans in Agriculture Summit will take place on Thursday, November 6th, 2014 from 9:00am – 3:30pm at the NYS State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY…Read More

Sustainable Farm Energy: 2014 Virtual Tours Start April 4th

Are you looking to stabilize rising fuel and energy costs on your farm or homestead?  Are you seeking more sustainable sources of energy?  In this upcoming four-part webinar series, you’ll meet an organic vegetable farmer, grape grower & winemaker, sunflower & biodiesel producer, and pastured livestock farmer who will lead you through a virtual tour … Read More

Rescheduled: NY Small Farms Summit for March 24th

Due to heavy snow and freezing rain forecast across upstate New York, the 2014 NY Small Farms Summit, Beyond Direct Marketing: Exploring New Ways to Sell, is rescheduled for March 24th. If you were previously registered for this event and still plan to attend, please complete a new registration form. Are you currently selling through … Read More

ATTENTION: Small Farms Summit Postponed

This year’s annual Small Farms Summit,  Beyond Direct Marketing: Exploring New Ways to Sell, scheduled for March 12th, 2014 from 9:30am – 3:30pm has been postponed due to potentially hazardous weather conditions. Because a large proportion of our attendees are farmers from rural regions, the “vulcan” snowstorm that is predicted to hit New York will make it … Read More

Last Call! Where do YOU Sell? Survey closes soon

Thank you to the 450 farmers that have taken this survey! Since responses are still pouring in, we have extended the deadline to Wednesday, February 26th to give you a few more days to give input! Are you a Small Farmer? Where do YOU sell? Take this Survey to ID Small Farm Marketing Trends Are …Read More

Register Now for “Beyond Direct Marketing: Exploring New Ways to Sell”

Are you currently selling through a farmers’ market, csa, u-pick, or road-side stand? How well is it working? Direct-marketing can offer the satisfaction of a personal relationship with the customer, but wearing the ‘marketing hat’ has the disadvantage of consuming lots of time and energy. In recent years, a variety of new wholesale markets such … Read More

We’re all hearing the phrase “Farm to Plate” but sometimes marketing isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Many small and mid-sized growers sell product at farmers markets, through CSA’s or at farmstands, but what about restaurants, grocery stores, food hubs, or online marketplaces? What does it take to sell to these bigger markets and are they right for your farm?

You can find out by tuning in to the webinar series Small Farms: New Markets. Upcoming webinars feature farmers that started small but scaled up and transitioned to one or more wholesale markets. Farmers will reflect on the changes needed in production and marketing to get their products to these bigger markets. Each webinar also features one of the farmer’s ‘wholesale’ buyers who will describe how they establish productive relationships with smaller farms, and outline their business models and buying requirements.

All of the webinars are free and open to the public.   This webinar series is part of a larger training titled “Sparking a Wholesale Revolution: Connecting Small and Mid-sized Farmers to Larger Markets” sponsored by NE SARE (Northeast Sustainable Ag Research and Education) and the Cornell Small Farms Program.  Please send inquiries to Project Manager Violet Stone or visit the project website.

WinklerCancelled: Upstate Livestock Farm Reaches NYC Restaurants

Monday, April 13th. Noon – 1:00pm with Stephen Winkler of Lucky 7 Livestock Company and Seth Mosner of Mosner Family Brands

In 2000, Stephen Winkler and his family were selling their Lucki 7 Livestock Farm products to neighbors and through local farmers markets, grossing a little over $20,000 annually.  In the years that followed, the rising demand for locally produced food enabled Lucki 7 Farms to start selling to white tablecloth distributors and retailers such as Whole Foods and Wegmans.  Today, the farm’s annual sales include 800-1000 hogs, 35 head of beef, 700 meat chickens, and 7000 dozen eggs a year.  In 2013, Stephen started selling heritage hogs and grass fed beef to Mosner Family Brands.  Founded in 1957, Mosner Family Brands is a wholesale meat company based in the Bronx, NY, supplying high quality products to premium food service distributors, distinguished restaurants and high-end retailers. Mosner’s philosophy in partnering with small and mid-sized farmers is to empower them to focus on agriculture and farm management, rather than processing, logistics and other ancillary market-making functions. In doing so, Mosner has helped small family farms scale, become job creators and enhance farm operations through improved and consistent cash flow.  Learn more about how Stephen Winkler and other livestock farmers work with Mosner Family Brands to reach restaurants and retail stores. Due to illness in Stephen Winkler’s family, this webinar has been postponed until further notice.  We are very sorry for the inconvenience and will make an announcement when we are able to reschedule. 

ShibmuifarmsMushrooms to Dining Rooms: Meet the People Behind the Food Chain

Monday, April 20th. Noon – 1:00pm with  Alan Kaufman of Shibumi Farm, Jennifer Goggin of FarmersWeb, and Anthony Fassio of the Natural Gourmet Institute

Alan Kaufman began growing exotic mushrooms as a hobby in his home basement in 2003.    Today he produces as much as 5000 pounds of mushrooms a week, supplying unusual varieties to highly regarded chefs in New York and New Jersey from his Shibumi Farm in Princeton, NJ. Kaufman’s 35 unique strains of mushrooms are all cultivated indoors in a temperature and humidity controlled fruiting chamber. With ecological health in mind, Kaufman’s growing medium is locally sourced and sustainably harvested wherever possible and he avoids synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Last year, Alan started using FarmersWeb online business management software for farms, food hubs, and local food artisans. FarmersWeb has helped Shibumi farm manage its wholesale business with new and old customers alike. With more time for growing, Shibumi has expanded its wholesale business to include more restaurants, corporate kitchens, and purchasers such as the Natural Gourmet Institute.  CEO Anthony Fassio will speak to how the NGI connects with small farmers like Alan and purchases regional farm products for use in their chef training programs.    Register Here.


Past Webinars

ShannonMason_ChildTurning Milk to Gold (Butter)

Monday, April 6th. Noon – 1:00pm with Shannon Mason of Cowbella and Sonia Janiszewski & Richard Giles of Lucky Dog Food Hub

In 2010, Shannon Mason started turning the fresh Jersey milk from her family’s historic Catskill dairy farm into cheese and butter.  She marketed the new product line, Cowbella, through farmers’ markets, on-farm retail and specialty grocery stores. Today, Cowbella products can be found in 35 locations across NY, including 7 Price Choppers, 6 Tops Markets, and 4 Shop-Rites. Mason’s most recent wholesale market is Lucky Dog Local Food Hub based in Hamden, NY.  Lucky Dog started as an organic vegetable farm in 2000, but owner Richard Giles saw an opportunity to create a ‘hub’ when he had extra space on the refrigerated truck he used to transport his vegetables to New York City markets.  The extra space in the truck is available to other regional small farms who need help transporting and delivering product to NYC buyers.  Learn more about how Shannon Mason and other upstate farmers work together with Lucky Dog Food Hub to reach larger markets in the NYC metropolitan region.   Watch the recording:  https://cornell.webex.com/cornell/lsr.php?RCID=11fdfaa1995454627a8f86b306a82ac7 

Webinar Series Illuminates how Farmers and Buyers Connect

In recent years, a variety of new wholesale opportunities have opened to small and mid-sized farmers.  Whether its a brick and mortar venue such as a food hub, distributor or grocery store, or a virtual venue such as an online marketplace, these new avenues provide countless new ways to get your product out to bigger customers. But how do you decide which wholesale market is the right one to pursue?

You can find out by tuning in to Small Farms: New Markets, a 4-part webinar series.  The webinars feature a dairy, mushroom, livestock and produce farmer that have transitioned successfully to one or more new wholesale markets.  Farmers reflect on their decision making process, benefits and challenges, costs, and infrastructure needed to get their products to bigger markets. Each webinar also features one of the farmer’s ‘wholesale’ buyers who describe how they establish productive relationships with smaller farms, and outline their business models and buying requirements.

ShannonMason_Child“Turning Milk to Gold (Butter)” with Shannon Mason of Cowbella and Sonia Janiszewski & Richard Giles of Lucky Dog Food Hub

In 2010, Shannon Mason started turning the fresh Jersey milk from her family’s historic Catskill dairy farm into cheese and butter.  She marketed the new product line, Cowbella, through farmers’ markets, on-farm retail and specialty grocery stores. Today, Cowbella products can be found in 35 locations across NY, including 7 Price Choppers, 6 Tops Markets, and 4 Shop-Rites. Mason’s most recent wholesale market is Lucky Dog Local Food Hub based in Hamden, NY.  Lucky Dog started as an organic vegetable farm in 2000, but owner Richard Giles saw an opportunity to create a ‘hub’ when he had extra space on the refrigerated truck he used to transport his vegetables to New York City markets.  The extra space in the truck is available to other regional small farms who need help transporting and delivering product to NYC buyers.  Learn more about how Shannon Mason and other upstate farmers work together with Lucky Dog Food Hub to reach larger markets in the NYC metropolitan region. (Recorded on April 6th, 2015) Watch the Archived Webinar

Shibmuifarms “Mushrooms to Dining Rooms” with  Alan Kaufman of Shibumi Farm and Jennifer Goggin of FarmersWeb

Alan Kaufman began growing exotic mushrooms as a hobby in his home basement in 2003.    Today he produces as much as 5000 pounds of mushrooms a week, supplying unusual varieties to highly regarded chefs in New York and New Jersey from his Shibumi Farm in Princeton, NJ. Kaufman’s 35 unique strains of mushrooms are all cultivated indoors in a temperature and humidity controlled fruiting chamber. With ecological health in mind, Kaufman’s growing medium is locally sourced and sustainably harvested wherever possible and he avoids synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Last year, Alan started using FarmersWeb online business management software for farms, food hubs, and local food artisans. FarmersWeb has helped Shibumi farm manage its wholesale business with new and old customers alike. With more time for growing, Shibumi has expanded its wholesale business to include more restaurants, corporate kitchens, and purchasers such as the Natural Gourmet Institute.  CEO Anthony Fassio will speak to how the NGI connects with small farmers like Alan and purchases regional farm products for use in their chef training programs.  (Recorded on April 20th, 2015) Watch the Archived Webinar

“Upstate Livestock Farm Reaches NYC Restaurants”  with Stephen Winkler of Lucky 7 Livestock Company and Seth Mosner of Mosner Family Brands

WinklerIn 2000, Stephen Winkler and his family were selling their Lucki 7 Livestock Farm products to neighbors and through local farmers markets, grossing a little over $20,000 annually.  In the years that followed, the rising demand for locally produced food enabled Lucki 7 Farms to start selling to white tablecloth distributors and retailers such as Whole Foods and Wegmans.  Today, the farm’s annual sales include 800-1000 hogs, 35 head of beef, 700 meat chickens, and 7000 dozen eggs a year.  In 2013, Stephen started selling pasture raised hogs and grass fed beef to Mosner Family Brands.  Founded in 1957, Mosner Family Brands is a wholesale meat company based in the Bronx, NY, supplying high quality products to premium food service distributors, distinguished restaurants and high-end retailers. Mosner’s philosophy in partnering with small and mid-sized farmers is to empower them to focus on agriculture and farm management, rather than processing, logistics and other ancillary market-making functions. In doing so, Mosner has helped small family farms scale, become job creators and enhance farm operations through improved and consistent cash flow.  Learn more about how Stephen Winkler and other livestock farmers work with Mosner Family Brands to reach restaurants and retail stores.  (Recorded on October 12th, 2015) Watch the Archived Webinar

“Selling Produce to Groceries” with  Dan Kent of Kent Family Growers

kent-familyDan and Megan Kent, along with a 3-member seasonal crew, rotate organic cash crops with cover crops on 20 acres near the St. Lawrence River in the town of Waddington, NY.  Although they sell some of their produce through direct-marketing channels such as the Canton Farmers Market and a 40 week CSA, they have diversified their marketing mix to include a variety of wholesale outlets as well.  They sell to several local food stores, including the Potsdam Food Coop and Nature’s Storehouse, a natural foods store in Canton.  They also have their produce trucked down to Brooklyn where they have business connections with the Park Slope Food Coop, Perelandra Natural Food Center and Flatbush Food Coop.  In this presentation, Dan Kent will share how he made connections with his wholesale customers, and describe any changes he made in infrastructure, packaging, labeling, invoicing and production to meet the needs of his wholesale clients. (Recorded on October 19th)  Watch the Archived Webinar. 

Click on a Vets in Ag Summit working group to view the summary!
Communication & Outreach | Training for Service Providers | Vets Starting Farms | Vets Employed on Farms


Communication & Outreach Strategies to Reach NY Veterans


Reaching veterans about agricultural opportunities will require several strategies, based upon their age and internet connectivity.  A challenge we will face is actually finding veterans.  The best approach is to build upon existing organizations who work with veterans and foster referrals to web and other print materials about the effort.

General news blasts: For those who have reintegrated into communities and who may not use social media, the best approach is to work closely with existing organizations who are already interfacing with veterans on a regular basis.  Examples include the Veteran’s administration, public libraries, civic organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the Elks, and churches.   Key steps would include:

  • Create informational materials about the opportunities in agriculture
  • Share these with the civic organizations who can distribute these to veterans
  • Have structured, consistent strategies to connect with these organizations and their veteran clients
  • Create a feedback loop to stay aware of any veteran needs or interests

A quarterly newsletter could help collect opportunities in agriculture that could be shared through the network.   These quarterly newsletters should be coupled with mass media announcements, using print, radio, bulletin boards, post offices and other general message outlets.  Key organizational leaders include Department of Labor, Farmer Veteran Coalition of NY, and the Division of Veterans Affairs. In one year, the methods should result in at least 20 new inquiries about veterans interested in agriculture.

Specific outreach through key partners:  The Department of Labor, Division of Veterans Affairs, Department of Corrections, Farmer Veteran Coalition of NY, Clear Path and some offices of Cornell Cooperative Extension all work directly with veterans and have means to track veteran interests and aspirations to work in agriculture.   The above efforts to reach veterans can be also shared through these partners.

Social media:  Given the change in the communications culture with social media, a website and social media (Facebook, twitter, list-serves, etc) outreach plan should be built that complements the above general approaches.   Compelling stories about veterans farming should be highlighted through these outlets.  This will help illustrate the ways in which veterans can find meaningful work in agriculture.

Regional gatherings:  Organize social events and regional gatherings to allow face-to-face connections among veterans, NGOs, farm supporter and other partners to share information about agriculture opportunities.  This will help foster word-of-mouth outreach to other veterans in an area who may have interest.  This approach will also address a major concern of disenfranchisement; this occurs when a veteran tries to connect to resources/support by phone, but end up in a string of referrals. Veterans will fall back to isolation and working alone very quickly.  When/if there are opportunities for veterans to have experiences on farms, these could be highlighted via these gatherings. Meeting on a veteran owned farm would be a highlight.  Partners in these regional gatherings should include CCE, Farm Bureau, American Legion, Division of Veterans Affairs, and other members from this Summit.


Training Needs for Service Providers to Support Farmer Veterans


1)      Service providers need to meet the needs of veterans seeking hands-on farmer training. They need to be able to connect aspiring farmers with apprenticeship programs and other vocational training opportunities. Both veteran and agricultural service providers should have relationships with or the ability to connect veterans to the institutions (i.e. community colleges) or organizations (incubators and non-profits) that offer on-the-ground farmer training. They should have working knowledge of the online resources for finding apprenticeships/internships/vocational programs and identify farmer veteran mentors or other established growers that would like to have veterans work within their operation.

2)      Agriculture service providers need to learn the existing VA networks and programs available for returning veterans to be able to connect with veterans before they are out of active service. They need to identify the “separation/transition” centers or offices in their region and make resources available within these existing career services programs. Examples include, the Transition Assistance Program (TAP; Navy) and the Career Alumni Program (CAP; Army). A package of materials should be developed to help these service providers lay out a framework for the opportunities and startup resources/programs that are available to support beginning farmers in NY State.

3)      Agricultural service providers need to coordinate and develop the capacity to offer intensive business planning training for farmer veterans. This could be a “boot camp” training, where expert farmers, consultants, and cooperative extension develop a multi-day business plan assistance program. This training should foster teams and veteran-veteran working groups. Partnerships should also be developed between business plan consultants and veteran service centers to work within the existing veteran support network.

4)      A formal program should be developed to train service providers as “Navigators” in supporting veterans seeking to enter farming or agricultural business. This program should be curriculum based, foster leadership in farmer-veteran services, and provide a sustained network. It should recruit farmers, agricultural and veteran service providers for an extended training on veteran services, agricultural programs and services, and cultural sensitivities. Alumni of the program will have the capacity to be a point of contact for returning veterans seeking agricultural opportunities at the local/regional level.


Prioritize Training Strategies for new Veteran Farm Start-Ups


Much of what was discussed in both sessions on this topic was applicable to any new farmer, not specific to veterans. Typical suggestions included ensuring that newbies get hands-on experience before launching their own farm, providing them with good mentors, and developing a clearinghouse of information on starting a farm.

Veteran-specific suggestions that came up repeatedly were:

1)      Building trust and streamlining services – these two strategies go hand-in-hand. Veterans may resist asking for help and be slower than other new farmer audiences to trust service providers. If organizations bounce them around with too many disconnected referrals, they will not persist with reaching out and instead will pull back and figure it out themselves. It would be most helpful if there was a single point person to provide full-service farm start-up counseling, from getting the land and experience to writing the business plan, securing funding, and starting up.

2)      Making necessary structural changes to allow more “certificate”/non-accredited programs to be approved for use of GI Bill funds, and also enable veterans to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors with support from GI benefits

3)      Similarly, approval for select farms as official On-the-Job Training (OJT) sites, allowing veterans to get that important hands-on experience with financial support from their GI benefits.

4)      Networks and opportunities to learn from other veterans: sharing veteran farmer success stories, intensive entrepreneurial boot camps, and networking opportunities were all supported as valuable elements to veteran farmer training.


Prioritize Strategies to help Veterans find Agriculture Jobs


This break-out group discussed four key challenges and corresponding opportunities to connect veterans to jobs in agriculture.

First, veterans are interested in agriculture jobs and trainings, but don’t know how to find them.  To address this need, participants suggested creating an ‘Agriculture Jobs Online Exchange’ modeled after Craigslist and combining elements of LinkIn. This online bulletin board would offer space to farmers or members of the agricultural industry to post jobs available or skill sets needed.  Similarly, veterans could post jobs they are seeking.  The Online Exchange could also include directories of land for sale or lease, upcoming trainings and educational opportunities, or networking events.

Second, agriculture related careers are currently not represented at discharge trainings, job fairs, trade shows or community events targeted toward veterans.  To address this need, participants suggested that organizers of these events invite a broad range of farmers, agriculture educators, and agriculture industry members to introduce veterans to the full spectrum of jobs and educational opportunities available.

Third, veterans need access to both academic and practical, hands-on training in farming and agriculture, but often don’t have the funds to pay tuition and fees.  To address this need, participants suggested that educational organizations, farmers and ag businesses work with Education Liasons at the Department of Veterans Affairs to become accredited ‘On the Job Training Programs’ .  Once ‘OJT’ status has been acquired by an employer or institution, veterans can use GI Bill benefits to cover the cost/tuition for the training.

Finally, veterans need opportunities to develop practical skills in farming prior to launching farm businesses.  To address this need, participants suggested designing a certificate program with a ‘Skills Checklist’ that could be adapted by farmers.  Veterans that complete this ‘portable’ curriculum under the guidance of the farmer mentor would then receive certification to advance to future trainings or management positions.   ​

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