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Wholesale Marketing

Our next Baskets to Pallets Training will take place in the Hudson Valley region in January, 2020. To receive an announcement, sign up for Cornell Small Farms Program emails here.

Project News….

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 to learning…

Attendees practiced grading peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers using the newly published Vegetable Grading Tools developed by the Cornell Vegetable Team.

As project coordinator of the Baskets to Pallets project, much of the work I do is at a desk, coordinating the development of new resources or designing workshops. So, I’m always happy to be in a room resounding with conversation and energy as farmers and food producers meet and learn from one another. This was the happy scene at our Baskets to Pallets Training on March 14th and 15th in Rochester, NY.

The Baskets to Pallets Training debuted in the Catskills in 2017 and circled up to the Tug Hill Plateau in 2018. I’m passionate about creating a healthy, inviting space conducive to learning so each time we offer this Training I incorporate more comforts I consider essential for success. Our gathering in Rochester took place at the Irondequoit Conference Center, a light-filled room with access to fresh air. We enjoyed plenty of healthy snacks and meals sourced primarily through Headwater Food Hub. Even at the end of winter, we were still able to enjoy a seasonal menu with local meats, cheeses, seeds, mushrooms and fresh microgreens.

Beyond ensuring attendees are comfortable and well-fed, this Training incorporates lots of time for discussion and activities. We avoid turning the lights low and flashing a long sequence of slides to lull you into nap-land. Our goal is to present short bursts of useful information and then offer space for you to consider, digest and reflect on how the information presented resonates or applies to your farm or food business.

We also respect the incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in the room. This Training typically draws 50 farmers of all enterprises from a 100 -mile radius. We had dairy and grain farmers sitting at the table with cut flower growers and urban market gardeners. Some had been farming for over 20 years and some were still writing business plans. Ensuring time in each lesson plan for exchange of ideas, successes and failures is an essential part of maintaining energy and engagement.

I always feel as though I’m leaving a new neighborhood at the conclusion of this Training. We get to know each other and many go home with a few new friends or professional contacts. I always hope attendees feel that they have increased their knowledge and skills and developed new business goals, but more importantly, I hope they feel taken care of. It’s not easy for a farmer or food producer to leave the business for two days for a long-distance trip. Creating a holistic approach to learning by respecting a person’s intellectual, emotional, social and physical needs continues to be the highest priority for me as this Training evolves.

Many thanks to the team of instructors and buyers for sharing their expertise and perspectives, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County for co-hosting this Training.

The Baskets to Pallets Training will be offered in the Hudson Valley region in late 2019 or early 2020. To receive an announcement, please email Violet Stone at

Baskets to Pallets Regional Farmer Training. March 14th and 15th

Irondequoit Conference Center, Rochester, NY

Are you in search of new markets? Have you considered intermediary channels like food hubs, grocery stores, schools and cooperatives? The demand for local food continues to grow…Is your farm business ready for the opportunities?

Ensure your success by joining us for ‘Baskets to Pallets’, a comprehensive two-day introduction to selling wholesale.

This lively course designed for farmers of all enterprises is taught by a talented and diverse instructor team of educators, farmers and buyers. The Baskets to Pallets Training now features 2 course tracks so you can choose the most useful topics for your farm business. Presentations are accompanied by activities and discussion to give you time to react to the course material and relate it to your own business.

Download the entire Course Schedule here.

Instructor Team: Read about the trainers and presenters here.

Cost: $35.00 per person for the entire Training. Includes breakfast refreshments and a delicious locally sourced lunch each day.  Bring a second representative from the farm for FREE!!  NYS Military Veterans are eligible for up to $200 reimbursement for this event to cover registration & travel expenses. Contact Dean Koyanagi at (607) 255-9911 for details.

Space is limited to 40 participants and early registration is encouraged.


Baskets to Pallets Training Sponsors
The ‘Baskets to Pallets’ course is co-hosted by the Cornell Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County. Funding is provided by Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).

For more information: Contact Violet Stone at 607-255-9227 or

Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Monday March 11th (9am-5pm) & Tuesday March 12th (9am-3pm)
Cornell Cooperative Extension Of Broome County (Binghamton)

Are you a farmer interested in produce safety? Are your markets asking for food safety plans or third party verification? Do you want to understand produce safety issues as they relate to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Food Safety Rule, third party audits and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)? Participation in this training will give you the tools to create an on-farm food safety plan and complete one of the requirements of either FSMA OR the New York State Grown and Certified branding program. We will also discuss potential funding streams to make infrastructure upgrades to your farm related to food safety! Click here to register. Cost starts at $100/farm and includes 2 registrations, all meals, manual and AFDO certificate.

Project News….

On August 7 and 8, Project Coordinator Violet Stone convened the inaugural gathering of the new Baskets to Pallets educator cohort. In this post, Violet shares a retrospective on who the new cohort is and the work they plan to do over the next two years.

Last week, I was happy to find myself out of my office chair and seated instead in the light-filled Loft space at the Carriage House Café with 15 educators and farmers from all over the state. Most of the members of our new Baskets to Pallets cohort hadn’t met before, so we were excited to spend the morning getting to know each other’s passions, interests and niches within the food system. The group then turned focus toward its mission — to facilitate access to new market channels for farmers interested in entering “intermediate” venues such as food hubs, grocery stores, restaurants and cooperatives. The cohort will support farmers and producers who are experiencing cooling trends in direct markets such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) operations and farm-stands through providing coaching and training on how to successfully enter intermediate channels.

The Baskets to Pallets Educator Cohort

We launched into our work together by looking at big market trends such as the rapid acceleration of online grocery sales and consumer’s growing preferences for local, fresh food. Big trends affect sales for farmers on the ground, and we want to stay abreast of how the food scene is changing and how we can advise farmers to take advantage of new opportunities. Then, we reflected more personally on the marketing challenges and opportunities we were each observing in the regions where we work. Yes, the data tells us that local food is big and in growing demand, but local reports confirm it’s challenging to get small products to big markets and we have plenty of work ahead in getting farmers ready for wholesale and connecting them to scale-appropriate markets.

Pictured from Left to Right: Laura Biasillo, Sumak Katarhy and Mariane Kiraly

We rounded out our gathering by talking with buyers from throughout the Northeast. Conversations with staff at Headwater Food Hub, Red Tomato and Honest Weight Food Cooperative shed some perspectives on what buyers do and don’t need to have successful business relationships with farmers. Strong communication skills came up across the board, but not all buyers required GAPS/food safety certifications or had hard and fast requirements regarding grading/sorting/packaging. In summary, every buyer is unique and most of the success lies in finding the right producer/buyer match and building a relationship. As educators serving in the Baskets to Pallets cohort, we hope to help farmers navigate potential buyers and support steps toward wholesale success. That might mean supporting a producer in achieving better uniformity and consistency, food safety standards, grading/packaging, labeling, or whatever steps are needed to find success in intermediate markets.

So, what’s next for the cohort? We’ll be creating new educational content throughout the Fall in preparation for two regional Baskets to Pallets farmer trainings to take place during the winter months.

Do you have any feedback or ideas for our group? We’d love to hear from you. Reach out to Project Coordinator Violet Stone at or visit the project website.

Announcing the Baskets to Pallets Educator Cohort

The Baskets to Pallets project is pleased to announce members of the new Baskets to Pallets Educator Cohort.  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.

Baskets to Pallets Educator Cohort 

Christian Malsatzki Agriculture Program Leader Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County
Daniel Eggert Organic Brand Manger Harris Seeds Organic
Elizabeth Gabriel Director Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming
Jason Detzel Livestock Educator Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County
Kimberly Vallejo Director of Outreach NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets
Laura Biasillo Agricultural Economic Development Specialist Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County
Maria ‘Flip’ Filippi Local Foods Program Leader & Harvest Kitchen Manager Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County
Mariane Kiraly Sr. Resource Educator CCE Delaware County
Miriam Boateng Taste NY at Todd Hill CCE Dutchess County
Omari Washington Interim Executive Director/Program Coordinator Hudson Valley Seed
Paul Loomis Organic Markets Coordinator NOFA-NY
Sheila Daminski Grand Island Farms, Inc Secretary and Board of Directors, Grand Island Farmers Market Manager Grand Island Farms, Inc
Katharhy Sysaq Garden Manager and Instructor City Parks Foundation
Tanya L Moyer Owner/Farmer Mulligan Creek Acres

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

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.