Small Farmers: Is it Time to Add a Bigger Market?

Shannon Mason of Cowbella will speak about transitioning to Lucky Dog Food Hub

Shannon Mason of Cowbella will speak about transitioning to Lucky Dog Food Hub

Statewide meeting March 24th features farmers’ perspectives on food hubs, grocery stores, restaurants & more….

The practice of direct-marketing — selling products face-to-face via farmers markets, CSA’s or farm stands — has traditionally been attractive to small farmers because it cuts out the ‘middle man’, leaving all the revenue in the farmers’ pocket.  It can also offer the satisfaction of a personal relationship with the customer and the fulfillment of feeding the local community. But wearing the ‘marketing hat’ has the disadvantage of consuming significant amounts of time and energy.
Recently, a flurry of new marketing avenues that combine advantages of both direct-marketing and wholesaling have come available.  Options such as food hubs, grocery stores, online marketplaces, or restaurants invite the farmer to hand marketing responsibilities over to a third party, but still sell food to their community or region and in some cases, retain their unique marketing identity.
Are these emerging market avenues right for you?  Trying a new marketing strategy requires investment of time, money, and infrastructure, so you want to make an informed choice.  But with each new marketing option offering something different, what decision aids do you need to choose with confidence?
You can find out at the upcoming Small Farms Summit on March 24th, 2014 from 9:30am – 3:30pm. The full day program, Beyond Direct Marketing: Exploring New Ways to Sell, features small farmers’ perspectives on the pros and cons of selling wholesale.
In the morning, we’ll hear from vegetable farmer Darren Maum of Salvere Farm, inMarietta, NY.  Darren has recently joined Farmshed, a Central NY company that has enabled Darren to sell a larger volume of product by handling transportation and relationship building efforts with customers, saving Darren valuable time and resources.  Next, Shannon Mason of Cowbella in Jefferson, NY, will describe how a shift to wholesaling through Lucky Dog Local Food Hub has enabled her to invest in new production and processing strategies for her value added dairy products.  Finally, Stephen Winkler of Lucki7 Livestock Co. in Rodman, NY will reflect on how a transition to Wegmans, Whole Foods and a White Tablecloth Distributor has transformed his product mix and marketing strategy.
All speakers will address their decision making process in switching to a new wholesale market, benefits and challenges, costs, and infrastructure needed.  Farmer speakers will also address how well the new market meets their goals, values or other lifestyle preferences.
After sharing lunch, you’ll have the opportunity to join fellow farmers from your region to swap ideas about specific wholesale marketing opportunities in your area. This interactive ‘wholesale market mapping’ activity will result in generating regional needs for projects that the Cornell Small Farms Program may fund over the next few years.
To register for the 2014 Small Farms Summit, Beyond Direct Marketing: Exploring New Ways to Sell, select the nearest meeting location from the list below and then register online. If you prefer, you may also register via phone. The meeting is free to attend and lunch will be provided.  An agenda is available here.  General questions about the Summit should be directed to

Small Farms Summit Regional Host Sites

Fingerlakes Region: Wayne County,  Cornell Cooperative Extension office

Address:  1581 Rte 88N, Newark, NY 14513
Contact:  Elizabeth Claypoole at  or 315-331-8415
Central NY: Mann Library, Agriculture Quad, Cornell University Campus
Address: Tower Road, Ithaca, NY 14853
Contact: Violet Stone at or 607-255-9227
Eastern NY: Albany County, Cornell Cooperative Extension office
Address:  24 Martin Road, Voorheesville, NY 12186
Contact: Gale Kohler at or 518-765-3500
Hudson Valley: Ulster County, Cornell Cooperative Extension office
Address:  232 Plaza Road, Kingston NY 12401
Contact: Carrie Anne Doyle at or 845-340-3990
Northern NY: St. Lawrence County, Cornell Cooperative Extension office
Address: Extension Learning Farm Classroom at 2043 SH 68, Canton, NY  13617
Contact: Brent Buchanan at or 315-379-9192 Ext 231
Western NY: Cattaraugus County, Cornell Cooperative Extension Office
Address: 28 Parkside Drive, Ellicottville, NY 14731
Contact: Lynn Bliven at or 585-268-7644
Long Island: Suffolk County, Cornell Cooperative Extension Office
Address:  423 Griffing Ave, Riverhead, NY 11901
Contact:  Sandy Menasha at or 631-727-7850

Register Online  

Violet Stone

Violet is the coordinator of the Reconnecting with Purpose project, which offers farm and food system educators and change makers a retreat space to explore challenges and renew a sense of inspiration and purpose in their work and lives. She is also a collaborator on the Be Well Farming Project. This project creates reflective spaces for farmers and food producers to connect meaningfully and explore strategies that can ameliorate challenges and bolster quality of life. Violet serves as the NY SARE Coordinator and can help farmers and educators navigate NESARE grant opportunities.

Leave a Comment