Cornell CALS - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Baskets to Pallets

Project Lead: Violet Stone

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Are you a farmer seeking new markets?

Local foods generated $11.7 billion in sales in 2014 and are estimated to climb to $20.2 billion by this year. At the same time, growth of sales of local food at farmers markets, farm stands and through CSA models has lost momentum.  Some farmers who previously found success selling products through direct-marketing channels are now seeking new markets.

The Baskets to Pallets project provides educational resources and trainings to prepare farmers to enter 'intermediated' channels such as food hubs, groceries, schools and cooperatives. The project was founded in 2014.

Baskets to Pallets Educator Cohort

When it comes to wholesale marketing, farmers need help with distribution, uniformity and consistency, food safety assurances, and much more. Meet this group of 13 service providers from across NY who came together as a Cohort in 2017 to hone their wholesale expertise and help farmers explore new sales channels.

Baskets to Pallets Educator Cohort

News and Updates

Ploughing a Different Ground: Helping Farmers Unearth Wisdom through the Act of Listening

By Violet Stone | November 1, 2019

In the minutes before a Baskets to Pallets farmer training begins, I stand at the front of the room, scanning tables of chattering people and taking in the many different…

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Training Offers Holistic Approach to Learning

By Violet Stone | May 20, 2019

On March 14th and 15th the Baskets to Pallets project hosted a regional Training in Rochester NY.  In this retrospect, Violet Stone shares how the Training prioritized a holistic approach…

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Seeking New Markets? Baskets to Pallets Coming to Rochester March 14-15

By Violet Stone | January 31, 2019

Are you looking to diversify sales beyond the farmers market, CSA and farm stand? Food hubs, grocery stores, schools, and cooperatives are looking for your products to meet growing consumer…

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About Baskets to Pallets

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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, distributors 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 help farmers successfully enter new intermediated channels, the Cornell Small Farms Program and Northeast SARE have developed the Baskets to Pallets project.

About Northeast SARE

The Baskets to Pallets program 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. Learn more at nesare.org

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About Violet Stone

Violet is the coordinator of the Baskets to Pallets project, which seeks to prepare small and mid-sized farmers to enter intermediated market channels such as food hubs, groceries, schools and cooperatives.  She also serves as the NY SARE Coordinator and can help farmers and educators navigate NESARE grant opportunities.

Read Articles by Violet Stone