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Wholesale Marketing

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

Tug Hill Vineyards

2 Day Training
Tug Hill Vineyards, Lowville, NY

January 29 & January 30, 10:00am – 4:00pm

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. Additionally, the training includes an end-of-day session to start crop-planning for selling to the NNY Food Hub, based out of Jefferson county CCE, during the 2018 growing season.

The training cost is $35.00, which enables 2 people per farm to attend and includes breakfast refreshments and a delicious locally sourced lunch each day. Space is limited to 40 participants and early registration is encouraged. Lodging is available at Ridge View Lodge at a discounted rate of $80-90 per night.  Reserve by January 15th!

The ‘Baskets to Pallets’ course is co-hosted by the Cornell Small Farms Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County and funded via Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).


REGISTRATION OPEN: CLICK HERE


Training Agenda

DAY 1: Monday, January 29th

9:00am – 10:00am Arrival. Enjoy breakfast refreshments
10:00am – 10:15am Overview of the Training | Introductions Violet Stone, Cathy Moore and Melissa Spence
10:15am – 10:30am Consumer Trends and the Demand for Local Violet Stone
10:30am – 11:00am Choosing and Evaluating Market Channels Lindsey Pashow
11:00am – 11:30am Building Relationships with Buyers Violet Stone
11:30am – 12:00pm Perfecting the Pitch and Cold Calling Violet Stone
Noon – 1:00pm  Lunch & Socializing
1:00pm – 1:30pm  Inform Your Buyers, Build Your Brand Lindsey Pashow
1:30pm – 2:30pm  Voice of Experience: Dan Kent, Kent Family Growers Dan Kent via webinar
2:30pm – 2:50pm Snack & Networking Break
2:50pm – 3:30pm The Ingredients of Good Marketing | Sell Sheets | Download Samples Violet Stone
3:30pm – 4:00pm Learn about the new Northern NY Food Hub Cathy Moore

DAY 2: Tuesday, January 30th

9:00am – 10:00am Arrival. Enjoy breakfast refreshments
10:00am – 10:15am Reflecting on Day 1 and Overview of Day 2 Violet Stone
10: 15am – 10:45am Grading Liz Higgins
10:45am – Noon Uniformity, Consistency and Scheduling
BREAK OUT SESSION for Produce and Livestock
Crystal Stewart and Betsy Hodge
Noon – 1:00pm Lunch & Socializing
1:00pm – 2:00pm Buyer Panel Q&A Guest Buyers
2:00pm – 2:30pm Labeling Liz Higgins
2:30pm – 2:50pm Snack & Networking Break
2:50pm – 3:15pm Packaging Liz Higgins
3:15pm – 3:45pm Keeping Production Records & Food Safety Basics Crystal Stewart
3:45pm – 4:00pm Evaluation & Closing Violet Stone

Training Instructors

Violet Stone

Violet launched the Baskets to Pallets Project in 2014 in an effort to prepare direct-marketing farmers to successfully connect with new scale-appropriate markets.  Prior to joining the Cornell Small Farms staff  in 2007, Violet worked as a farmers market manager, local foods educator and farm direct-marketing consultant. She has a Certificate in Agroecology from the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.  She is also the  New York NESARE (Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education State Coordinator.

Cathy Moore
Catherine Moore is the Agriculture, Natural Resources & Fort Drum Issue Leader at Jefferson County Cornell Cooperative Extension.  Cathy is the coordinator of the NNY Food Hub, a regional initiative to help local producers expand their production and become more competitive in the marketplace. The hub serves an area that includes Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego, and St. Lawrence counties.

Liz Higgins

As a CCE Business Management Specialist, Liz provides research and extension support to growers in ENY in farm business management, business planning and risk management and agricultural economics. She as experience as the director of the Center for Rural Development at Louisiana Tech University and most recently worked with CCE in both Ulster and Sullivan Counties as a program leader in Nutrition and Consumer Programs.

Crystal Stewart

Crystal works as an extension vegetable specialist for CCE, focusing on organic horticulture, small and beginning farmers assistance, and basic farm business management. She worked as Regional Extension Educator with the SDSU Cooperative Extension providing horticulture support, and originally joined CCE as the horticulture and agriculture educator in Fulton and Montgomery counties.

Betsy Hodge

Betsy is Regional Livestock Educator for CCE’s NNY Regional Ag Team and is also a local educator for St. Lawrence County. In this dual role, Betsy leads the NNY Livestock Team, a group of Extension Educators from across Northern New York. Betsy is a member of  Farm Bureau and the Empire Sheep Producers Association as well as a member of several advisory boards.

Lindsey Pashow

Lindsey is an Agriculture Business Development and Marketing Specialist for CCE’s Harvest NY Team that is affiliated with the Northern NY Regional Agriculture Program. She serves Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties. She has previously worked as a horticulture field technician for CCE, and she owns Adirondack View Vineyard.


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.


calendar2018 Farmer Trainings

We’re pleased to announce our 2018 farmer training calendar.


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


kent-family

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….

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 www.nesare.org


NY SARE State Coordinator

VioletThe NY SARE State Program is led by Violet Stone (vws7@cornell.edu).  Learn more about Violet on the Cornell Small Farms Program staff page.