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Monthly Archives: March 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 venue such as a food hub, distributor or grocery store, or a virtual venue such as an online marketplace, these new avenues provide countless new ways to get your product out to bigger customers. But how do you decide which wholesale market is the right one to pursue?

You can find out by tuning in to Small Farms: New Markets, an upcoming three-part webinar series.  The webinars feature a dairy, livestock and mushroom farmer that have all transitioned successfully to one or more new wholesale markets.  Farmers will reflect on their decision making process, benefits and challenges, costs, and infrastructure needed to get their products to bigger markets. Each webinar also features one of the farmer’s ‘wholesale’ buyers who will describe how they establish productive relationships with smaller farms, and outline their business models and buying requirements.

All of the webinars are free and open to the public.   Registration is required.  Upon registering, you’ll receive an email providing a link and instructions for you to access the webinar(s) you signed up for. This webinar series is part of a larger training titled “Sparking a Wholesale Revolution: Connecting Small and Mid-sized Farmers to Larger Markets” sponsored by NE SARE (Northeast Sustainable Ag Research and Education) and the Cornell Small Farms Program.  Please send inquiries to Project Manager or visit the project website.

WinklerCancelled: Upstate Livestock Farm Reaches NYC Restaurants

Monday, April 13th. Noon – 1:00pm with Stephen Winkler of Lucky 7 Livestock Company and Seth Mosner of Mosner Family Brands

In 2000, Stephen Winkler and his family were selling their Lucki 7 Livestock Farm products to neighbors and through local farmers markets, grossing a little over $20,000 annually.  In the years that followed, the rising demand for locally produced food enabled Lucki 7 Farms to start selling to white tablecloth distributors and retailers such as Whole Foods and Wegmans.  Today, the farm’s annual sales include 800-1000 hogs, 35 head of beef, 700 meat chickens, and 7000 dozen eggs a year.  In 2013, Stephen started selling heritage hogs and grass fed beef to Mosner Family Brands.  Founded in 1957, Mosner Family Brands is a wholesale meat company based in the Bronx, NY, supplying high quality products to premium food service distributors, distinguished restaurants and high-end retailers. Mosner’s philosophy in partnering with small and mid-sized farmers is to empower them to focus on agriculture and farm management, rather than processing, logistics and other ancillary market-making functions. In doing so, Mosner has helped small family farms scale, become job creators and enhance farm operations through improved and consistent cash flow.  Learn more about how Stephen Winkler and other livestock farmers work with Mosner Family Brands to reach restaurants and retail stores.  Due to illness in Stephen Winkler’s family, this webinar has been postponed until further notice.  We are very sorry for the inconvenience and will make an announcement when we are able to reschedule. 

ShibmuifarmsMushrooms to Dining Rooms: Meet the People Behind the Food Chain

Monday, April 20th. Noon – 1:00pm with  Alan Kaufman of Shibumi Farm, Jennifer Goggin of FarmersWeb, and Anthony Fassio of the Natural Gourmet Institute

Alan Kaufman began growing exotic mushrooms as a hobby in his home basement in 2003.    Today he produces as much as 5000 pounds of mushrooms a week, supplying unusual varieties to highly regarded chefs in New York and New Jersey from his Shibumi Farm in Princeton, NJ. Kaufman’s 35 unique strains of mushrooms are all cultivated indoors in a temperature and humidity controlled fruiting chamber. With ecological health in mind, Kaufman’s growing medium is locally sourced and sustainably harvested wherever possible and he avoids synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Last year, Alan started using FarmersWeb online business management software for farms, food hubs, and local food artisans. FarmersWeb has helped Shibumi farm manage its wholesale business with new and old customers alike. With more time for growing, Shibumi has expanded its wholesale business to include more restaurants, corporate kitchens, and purchasers such as the Natural Gourmet Institute.  CEO Anthony Fassio will speak to how the NGI connects with small farmers like Alan and purchases regional farm products for use in their chef training programs.    Register Here.

Past Webinars

ShannonMason_ChildTurning Milk to Gold (Butter)

Monday, April 6th. Noon – 1:00pm with Shannon Mason of Cowbella and Sonia Janiszewski & Richard Giles of Lucky Dog Food Hub

In 2010, Shannon Mason started turning the fresh Jersey milk from her family’s historic Catskill dairy farm into cheese and butter.  She marketed the new product line, Cowbella, through farmers’ markets, on-farm retail and specialty grocery stores. Today, Cowbella products can be found in 35 locations across NY, including 7 Price Choppers, 6 Tops Markets, and 4 Shop-Rites. Mason’s most recent wholesale market is Lucky Dog Local Food Hub based in Hamden, NY.  Lucky Dog started as an organic vegetable farm in 2000, but owner Richard Giles saw an opportunity to create a ‘hub’ when he had extra space on the refrigerated truck he used to transport his vegetables to New York City markets.  The extra space in the truck is available to other regional small farms who need help transporting and delivering product to NYC buyers.  Learn more about how Shannon Mason and other upstate farmers work together with Lucky Dog Food Hub to reach larger markets in the NYC metropolitan region.   Watch the recording: .

Mushroom Logs StackedCamp Mushroom is Cornell University’s annual two-day event for farmers, woodlot owners, and hobby growers who want to cultivate their own mushrooms. Participants will be trained in three methods of mushroom cultivation; shiitake on bolts, lions mane/oyster on totems, and stropharia in woodchip beds. In addition, laying yard and management considerations will be covered. Each participant will also inoculate two shiitake bolts to take home. Anyone who wants to get into mushroom growing as a serious pursuit should not miss out on this opportunity to learn from experienced growers and researchers who will present for this event. Cost is $100 for overnight guests (primitive cabin with heat) and $70 for commuters. Click here to learn more

When April 24 – 25.

Where: Cornell’s Arnot Teaching and Research Forest

We are pleased to announce that we have hired Matthew Weiss to fill the role of Northeast Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator. Matt is an Ithaca, New York native who has returned to the Finger Lakes region after spending seven years living in Philadelphia, PA. Matt has a B.S. in Communications from Cornell University and an M.S. in Community and Regional Planning from Temple University, where he focused on environmental planning and the collaborative planning process.

Most recently, Matt spent three and a half years working with small farms in Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey on direct-to-consumer sales and marketing through farmers’ markets, CSAs, and buying clubs. His work in Philadelphia involved coordinating partnerships across a diverse group of stakeholders including farmers, small business owners, non-profits, and government agencies. He is very excited to be returning to his roots in Central New York while continuing to work with small farms to help them grow and thrive.

Are you a beginning farmer in New York state who has been farming for at least three years? Is the farm38aa2066-24b9-4f75-bcda-8f004ca80ad4 business you manage at a crossroads, needing to improve efficiency, scale up, or make other major changes to achieve long-term viability? Do you need some decision support to improve profitability of the farm business after 3-9 years of running it? Farmers at this stage are often faced with critical decisions that determine the long-term viability of their operation.

You don’t need to face these decisions alone. You may be eligible to receive support for a New Farmer Profit Team. This initiative seeks to improve the long-term success of advanced beginning farmers by providing selected farmers with customized, one-on-one guidance from farm professionals (financial, production, legal, marketing, etc.) over an 18-mo to 2-year period. These New Farmer Profit Teams are modeled on Dairy Profit Teams, which have a track record of improving productivity, profitability, and efficiency of the participating farms.

How does it work?

You can choose who you’d like to advise you, or seek assistance in selecting appropriate professionals. In practice, each profit team could consist of just one person acting as a mentor or coach, or a team of professionals representing different areas of expertise, working together to advise a farmer. The project has up to $2000 available per farm to pay these advisors and requires a 20% match from the farmer.

While improving farm profitability is one critical measure of the success of this project, other desired impacts include:

  • Improved income-generating capacity of farm (due to infrastructure or labor investment)
  • Improved crop or herd health
  • Improved management of farm natural and human resources
  • Refined marketing strategies
  • Reduced stress of farm staff
  • Enhanced well-being of farmer

Not only will you have the personalized guidance of your selected advisors, but we also want to help you develop new skills to grow your capacity as a leader. Participants in this project will attend an annual intensive 2-3-day leadership training designed to grow the network of skilled farmers and help them transfer their skills to new farmers just entering the field.

If this sounds like it would be helpful, please click here for a full program description and to apply. The application deadline is April 1, and in this first round, only 10 farms will be chosen. A second round of applicants will be accepted in Fall 2015.

This project is a collaboration of the Cornell Small Farms Program, NY Farm Viability Institute, and NY FarmNet, made possible with funding from NYFVI and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

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The New York Organic Dairy Initiative, in collaboration with the New York Farm Viability Institute and host farmers across New York State, will hold discussion meetings for dairy farmers titled “Lunch with Jerry” to honor the late Jerry Brunetti, worldwide lecturer on biological farming systems.

Cornell Cooperative Extension organic dairy extension educator Fay Benson will show video trainings produced by Jerry Brunetti for the NY Organic Dairy Initiative.

The discussions are an opportunity for farmers to share what they have tried and learned in the past year, and to make plans and identify goals for 2015. Farmers who are currently certified as well as those thinking of transitioning to organic production are welcome.

Benson notes that these meetings are an excellent place for farmers who are considering whether organic production is a good fit for their farm to ask questions.

The free, 11am to 2pm meetings, include lunch, and are scheduled at local farm sites between March 19 and April 1 as follows:

March 19, 2015; Alfred State College Farm, 1315 New York 244, Alfred, NY 14803
Host: Virginia Chamberlain—Alfred State Farm Manager

March 20, 2015, Dave Hardy Farm Shop, 718 Aney Hill Rd, Mohawk, NY 13407
Host: Dave Hardy

March 26, 2015, Hooper Farm, 7197 River Road, Memphis, NY 13112
Hosts: Mike and Karen Hooper
Special focus: Transitioning farmer with robotic milkers

March 31, 2015, Hammond Village Hall, 24 S. Main St. Hammond, NY 13646
Host: Farmers Liz Bawden

April 1, 2015, Malone Courthouse, 355 West Main Street #456 Malone, NY 12953
Host: Farmers Fred and Gwen Tuttle.

To register for any site, please contact Ellen Fagan at or 607-753-5078 or visit online. Lunch will be provided.

Heroic Food Farm in Hudson, NY offers a tuition-free training program open to all military veterans! Trainees gain hands-on experience through apprenticeships with local mentor farmers, craftspeople and food entrepreneurs and benefit from workshops, short-courses and individualized support for life and career transitions. Learn more at