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Wholesale Marketing

You’re invited to join a new professional development opportunity to hone your expertise facilitating new intermediary sales channels for the farmers you serve.

Read on to learn about the ‘Baskets to Pallets’ Educator Cohort forming now…Apply by May 11th

This is a great time for local food. Read any of the “What’s Hot” or “Top Trends” reports for another affirmation that consumers want products that are fresh or minimally processed, locally sourced food from companies that are small, transparent and socially responsible.

But – as many of us already know – getting products from our region’s small and mid-sized farms into the marketplace isn’t so simple. Local food may be big, but so are the challenges in getting it from the farm to intermediary channels such as groceries, food hubs, institutions and cooperatives. Distribution challenges, uniformity and consistency issues, food safety assurances, quantities, seasonal availability and pricing are all top concerns cited by intermediary buyers when working with local farmers.

Farmers in New York need support to get market-ready for the growing number of businesses shelving and dishing up local food. The Baskets to Pallets Project is pleased to announce an opportunity for 10 agricultural educators or service providers to join a professional development cohort with a focus on deepening personal expertise around intermediary marketing channels and diversifying teaching modalities.

Who is eligible to join the new Baskets to Pallets Educator Cohort?
Any educator or provider actively serving farmers in New York is eligible. The Team is limited to 10 spots. The project seeks to recruit a diverse group with varied backgrounds and perspectives. Food business personnel, consultants, cooperative extension agents, farmer-educators, public service officials, non-profit educators, etc. – are all invited to apply.

What will the Team be working on together?
Over the next 2.5 years, members will have the opportunity to work closely to share knowledge and expertise, design and teach lesson plans, meet buyers, receive free coaching and ‘big picture’ perspectives on local food marketing trends from specialists, and trial strategies with local farmers seeking to enter intermediary markets.

What is the Project’s duration?
The project runs from May 2018 through September 2020.

Will there be a lot of travel involved?
No. Participants will be asked to meet in person once each year of the 3 year project. Most of the project activities will be conducted remotely via webinar. During 2019-2020, you’ll have the opportunity to personally work with several farmers in your community to trial strategies to support farmers entering new markets.

Will I get paid?
Stipends are available to cover your time for collaborative projects, and any travel/lodging/meals are covered by the project. Workshops and remote meetings with marketing experts and buyers are also paid for by the project.

What is the time commitment?
The project combines self-directed, self-paced activities such as designing lesson plans and trialing strategies with farmers with professional development activities like Q&A conversations with regional buyers (remotely) and workshops with national food business consultants. Participants will also teach farmers during a formal Baskets to Pallets Training. To some extent, the greater your involvement with the project, the greater the benefit you will receive. That said, the project is designed to be somewhat flexible to accommodate the demands of our other work commitments.

How do I apply?
Please fill out this short application form here. The application deadline is May 11th. Participants will be notified about admission by May 18th. Selection will be based on developing a cohort with diverse skill sets, geographic locations and perspectives.

Please email Project Coordinator Violet Stone at or call 607-255-9227 for a full description of project activities and timeline.

Sponsorship for the Baskets to Pallets Educator Cohort
This project is sponsored by the NYS Northeast SARE Professional Development Program and supported by the Cornell Small Farms Program.

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….

April 30th, 2018 Opportunities Grow for Home Processors from Morning Ag Clips
March 10th, 2017. Basket to Pallets offers producers wholesale options and training from Countryfolks
November 28th, 2016. Are You a Farmer Seeking New Markets? Start Selling to Food Hubs, Groceries, Restaurants and Cooperatives
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
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
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.