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.

2020 Baskets to Pallets Winter Trainings

 Date: January 15, 2020
Maine Ag Trades Show, Augusta, Maine
Baskets to Pallets 1 Day Training
: Laura Biasillo, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County

Scaling Up to Meet Demand & Costs of Production. You’ve mastered production for your CSA, farmers market, or other direct marketing venue. But now your local hospital is interested in purchasing your lettuce and tomatoes year-round and you aren’t sure how to plan for that quantity of product on a consistent basis. And how much should you charge? This workshop will offer tools and resources to help you understand how to successfully scale up your production to meet institutional demand, as well as how to determine your costs of production. Register for the Trade Show.

Date: January 17th, 2020
Wholesale for Small Farmers
Instructors: Violet Stone, Baskets to Pallets Project Manager and Amy McCann, Local Food Marketplace

1:15pm - 2:30pm. Meeting Room 2. Many small farms that have been focused on direct sales (e.g. farmers markets, CSAs) find they need to adjust their sales and marketing plan when they incorporate sales to the wholesale market.  Come to this session if you are thinking about selling to wholesale customers, but aren't sure where to start, or if you have experienced some challenges in selling to wholesale customers. We’ll present sales & marketing strategies for common wholesale sales channels and then spend 30 minutes working in small groups to draft your farm’s elevator pitch for approaching new potential customers. Register for the Conference

Date: February 19th, 2020, 10:00am - 4:30pm.  Focus Group 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Hawthorne Valley Farm, Ghent, NY
Title: Baskets to Pallets 1 Day Training and "Be Well Farming" Focus Group
Instructors: Violet Stone, Baskets to Pallets Project Manager, Rachel and Steffen Schneider, Institute for Mindful Agriculture

Treat yourself to a training that covers the technical skills needed to be successful when transitioning to wholesale markets while making time for reflective conversation, a delicious local food feast, fellowship and a walk on the farm.  We'll discuss consumer trends and the demand for local, choosing and evaluating market channels, building relationships with buyers and cooperative and collaborative farming.  Registration opens January 20th. Those who wish are invited to stay for a 90 minute focus group to explore wellness, balance, fairness, and connection to community while farming. Focus group participants will be treated to a local food appetizer social and compensated $75.00 cash.

Date: February 25th, 2020
RI Department of Environmental Management. Meeting Room 300, Providence, RI
Matt LeRoux, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County

Are you in search of new markets? Have you considered wholesale channels like colleges, hospitals, schools, food hubs, grocery stores, and cooperatives? The demand for local food continues to grow... Is your farm or food business ready for the opportunities? Ensure your success by joining us for ‘Baskets to Pallets’, a comprehensive one-day introduction to selling wholesale. Register here.

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

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

By Violet Stone | March 30, 2015

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…

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2014 Small Farm Summit

By Kacey Deamer | March 24, 2014

About the 2014 NY Small Farms Summit On March 24th,  the Cornell Small Farms Program hosted the 4th NY Small Farms Summit.  The full day program, Beyond Direct Marketing: Exploring New…

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

By Violet Stone | March 18, 2014

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…

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About Baskets to Pallets

vegetables carrots

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


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