Agricultural development and entrepreneurship effort seeks farmers, institutions for Emerging Markets program – Rome Sentinel

The time is ripe, advocates say, to support a local food system in light of the lingering pandemic, supply chain disruptions and the need to procure local healthy food.

The Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship (CADE), a recipient of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Promotion Program, is providing market research and networking opportunities for farmers in Central New York.

CADE, officials with the program said, will work to develop new tools and opportunities for farmers to connect specifically with local institutional buyers — from colleges to retirement communities — and with food hubs and other efforts in the region.

The center will also help local farmers identify pressing market research needs, either long-standing or related to the pandemic, so that busy farmers can be provided with information and resources that can save them time and money and add value to their farm enterprises. 

One facet of CADE’s Emerging Markets Training Program is a participant program which CADE works across the supply chain with strategic partners such as The Teaching Kitchen at Lenox Hill, The Common Market, Upstate NY Growers and Packers, Headwater Food Hub and most importantly, center officials say, local farmers.

Also included in the program are Central New York Institutions such as Hartwick College and Masonic Care Community.

By working together and collaboratively across the food supply chain, the goal is to identify and secure emerging markets through the EMTP training program while providing ripe materials and services to support the local growing agricultural community for their market needs across the supply chain

“From surveying conducted so far,” says Senior Program Manager Kaitlyn Sirna, “we know that scaling up (both production and otherwise), and the state of dairy are pressing issues for our region’s farmers, and there’s a real interest in education around e-commerce and agritourism opportunities for farmers to explore new markets.”

Amidst a global pandemic and continued disrupted food supply chains, and FDA related food-recalls, our community will collaboratively build a strong supply chain unlocking new partnerships with new markets for our farmers, and accessibility for consumers from small town farmers markets to institutions, officials said, adding that CADE, with partners, will host a variety of webinars and learning topics that will be free and open to the public to learn. 

CADE is recruiting 20 farmers and 15 institutions to be EMTP Program Participants. 

Participation registration is rolling, and CADE encourages any farmer interested in learning more about the Farm to Institution movement, desire to launch or expand their farm into wholesale readiness, and receive technical assistance on emerging markets from CADE to apply. Those with the desire to enhance market opportunities with a certification are encouraged to apply, as stipend funding is available to assist with certification costs. 

Institutions who register can expect tailored kitchen and procurement policy support, menu design, procurement practices, recipe development, farmer networking events, and more from CADE, community leaders, and project partners like The Teaching Kitchen at Lenox Hill.

The program is primarily self-guided with direct support from CADE staff, opportunities for collaborative learning with peers and mentors, and should be expected to be completed in 12 months. CADE recognizes the seasonality of farm businesses and food service kitchens, and expects that during the agricultural peak season, demands of program participants will be lighter. 

In December 2021, the Institute for Rural Vitality at SUNY Cobleskill and the Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship announced its first cohort of entrepreneurs to become members of the Farm and Food Business Accelerator, whose mission is to launch 12 new value-added products, increase baseline revenues by 25%, and realize a collective $500,000 investment into product development and business growth within an 18-month period.

Among local participants in the accelerator cohort are: The Collins Farm and Creamery in Rome; the New York Farm Basket in Munnsville; the Clover Bliss Farm in South New Berlin; and the Turner Farm in Ilion.