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Wholesale Marketing

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

Please note, due to the winter weather warning, the course has been rescheduled for January 31st and February 7th.

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.

Registration is Closed

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 50 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 31st, 2017

Time Topic Instuctor
9:00am – 10:00am Arrive early for breakfast, if desired Networking
10:00am – 10:15am Welcome, Overview, Introductions Violet Stone, David Cox, Mariane Kiraly, Rebecca Morgan
10:15am – 10:30am Consumer Trends & the Demand for Local Violet Stone
10:30am – 11:00am Grading Crystal Stewart and Liz Higgins, Cornell Cooperative Extension
11:00AM-Noon Uniformity, Consistency And Scheduling
BREAK-OUT for produce and livestock
 Crystal Stewart & Rich Taber, Cornell Cooperative Extension
NOON–1:00PM Lunch Buffet  Networking
1:00PM-1:15pm Morning Recap, Q&A  Crystal Stewart and Liz Higgins, Cornell Cooperative Extension
1:15PM – 2:00PM Labeling Crystal Stewart and Liz Higgins, Cornell Cooperative Extension
2:00PM-2:30PM Packaging Crystal Stewart and Liz Higgins, Cornell Cooperative Extension
2:30pm – 2:45pm Pallet Stacking Violet Stone
2:45PM-3:00PM Break
3:00pm – 3:30pm Keeping Production Records Crystal Stewart
3:30pm – 4:00pm Meeting Your Market’s Food Safety Needs Crystal Stewart and Farmer Discussion

Baskets to Pallets Course Agenda: DAY 2: New Date: Tuesday February 7, 2017

Time Topic Instructor
9:00am – 10:00am Arrive early for breakfast if desired Networking
10:00AM-10:10AM Welcome and Overview of Day 2 Violet Stone, Cornell Small Farms Program
10:10AM-10:30AM Overview of  Wholesale Marketing David Ross, Farmers Web
10:30AM – 11:00AM Building Relationships with Buyers Violet Stone
11:00AM –11:45AM The Ingredients of Good Marketing | Sell Sheets Violet Stone
11:45AM – 12:45PM Lunch  Networking
12:45-1:15PM Inform Your Buyers, Build Your Brand David Ross
1:15PM-2:15PM Perfecting the Pitch and Cold Calling Violet Stone
2:15 – 2:30pm Break
2:30PM-3:30PM Reviewing the Financial Position of Your Business Mariane Kiraly, Cornell Cooperative Extension
3:30PM-4:00PM Regional Market Opportunities David Cox, Rebecca Morgan, Mariane Kiraly

For more information, please contact:

  • Violet Stone, Cornell Small Farms Program, or (607) 255-9227
  • David Cox, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie and Otsego Counties, or (518) 234-4303, ext. 119
  • Mariane Kiraly, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, or (607) 865-6531
  • Rebecca Morgan, The Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship (CADE)  (607) 433-2545

Baskets to Pallets: Preparing Small and Mid-Size Farmers to Enter Food Hubs, Cooperatives, Restaurants and Groceries

Baskets to Pallets Training ManualAre you an agricultural educator or service provider in the Northeast interested in supporting farmers seeking to enter food hubs, groceries, restaurants or cooperatives?  The Baskets to Pallets Teaching Manual contains a series of presentations, discussions, activities, videos and other teaching resources that an agricultural service provider can adapt and tailor to local farmer audiences.  The Manual incorporates two Case Study Farms, based on an actual produce and livestock farm currently operating in NY.  Over the course of the Training, various Units examine the two farms from different angles, enabling trainees to understand real-life management, production, and promotion strategies through the lens of ‘wholesale’ marketing.

The 16 Lesson Plans may be taught in sequence over the course of a two-day training, or excerpted for a series of shorter workshops.   Please note, the Teaching Manual is available by request only.  To gain access, please fill out the User Request Form.

calendar2016-17 Farmer Trainings

We’re pleased to announce our 2016-17 farmer training calendar.   We will add to this listing as more opportunities are created throughout the state.

Wholesale Market Watch – Join the Listserve

This list-serve provides information and resources to connect small and mid-sized farmers to larger markets such as food hubs, grocery stores, restaurants, online marketplaces and cooperatives. Farmers, educators and prospective buyers are all welcome: Sign up here


Dan Kent of Kent Family Growers shared strategies for how to sell to grocery stores.

Small Farms, New Markets: Webinar Series Illuminates how Farmers and Buyers Connect

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. Watch the recorded presentations of 4 farmers who successfully transitioned from direct-marketing to selling some product into larger venues.  Many of the presentations also feature a buyer or two who offer perspectives on what the buyer needs to make a wholesale relationship successful.… Read More

Wholesale Markets…in the News Recently….

December 21st, 2016 Results of Local Food Marketing Survey from Morning Ag Clips
June 30th, 2016 Are Farmers Markets Losing their Appeal? from Growing Produce
March 7th, 2016  Educators: Register now for ‘Baskets to Pallets’ Statewide Training
January 21st, 2016 Food Hubs Grow Among Demolition from Morning Ag Clips
September 30th, 2015. Survey shows farmers, consumers want food hub in North Country from North Country Now
August 10th, 2015 New York Food Hub Survey Results from the Northern NY Ag Development Program
July 5th, 2015 Business matchmakers pull local food sector together from the Wallace Center
May 8th, 2015 What Farm Cooperatives Can Do for the Food System – and Farmers from Grist
May 6th, 2015 Using Food Hubs to Create Sustainable Farm to School Programs from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
April 24th, 2015 Business matchmakers pull local food sector together from the Wallace Center
April 22nd, 2015 RI Farm to Institution Survey Report Released
March 30th, 2015 Small Farms, New Markets: Webinar Series Features Farmers and their Wholesale Buyers from the Cornell Small Farms Program
March 10th, 2015 Can small farms sell to big institutions? from North Country Public Radio

2014 carrotsAbout the Project

Over the past 8 years, farmers markets have grown by 38% in the state of New York, giving NY the second highest number of markets in the country.  While this growth has provided an abundance of easy-to-access markets for small and beginning farmers, established farmers have started reporting slower sales and customer loss due to increased competition. These farmers complain of ‘burn-out’ from investing significant time and energy in direct-marketing strategies that are yielding diminishing returns. Meanwhile, distributers such as food hubs, grocery stores and restaurants are now recruiting product from small to mid-sized farms to meet growing consumer demand for local and sustainably-grown food.  Although technically ‘wholesale’ venues, these  businesses are often eager to establish attentive relationships with their suppliers,  offer attractive prices and terms, and maintain a product’s branding and integrity.

New York’s small farmers expressed strong interest in exploring these ‘new models’ of wholesale in a highly detailed marketing trends survey conducted by the Cornell Small Farms Program in February, 2014.  Nearly half (39% )of the 445 NY survey takers reported currently selling at farmers markets, farm stands or CSA’s, but 25% indicated plans to explore either a food hub or a restaurant over the next 2 years.  An additional 7% indicated interest in a grocery store or cooperative.  However, respondents identified many questions and perceived risk factors in making a transition to wholesale that need to be addressed.  The following farmer quote represents a typical question: “I need to increase my sales to people interested in high quality locally grown products, but cannot afford the time to sit at a farmer’s market. Where are the food hubs, and how do I go about providing products?”

To address this gap  in Wholesale Market Training, the Cornell Small Farms Program and Northeast SARE have developed the Baskets to Pallets project.  To receive opportunities and information, sign up for the Wholesale Market Watch listserve above.

About Northeast SARE

The NY SARE State program on Wholesale Market Training for small – mid-sized farmers  is funded through Northeast SARE.  SARE offers competitive grants to projects that explore and address key issues affecting the sustainability and future economic viability of agriculture.  The NY SARE coordinators are available to offer information and presentations on SARE funding opportunities.   Learn more about Northeast SARE by visiting

NY SARE State Coordinator

VioletThe NY SARE State Program is led by Violet Stone (  Learn more about Violet on the Cornell Small Farms Program staff page.