Tag Archives: Farming for Wholesale

MFT awards Farming for Wholesale implementation grant to Emery Farm

This spring, MFT awarded its seventh implementation grant to help Emery Farm scale up their business. The farm participated in the 201 track of MFT’s Farming for Wholesale program and spent two years working with business advisors to research and define their business plan focused on scaling up for wholesale markets. This implementation grant is competitive and applications undergo an extensive review process by a committee comprised of MFT staff and industry consultants.

“The Maine Farmland Trust Farming for Wholesale program has empowered the financial future of our farm,” Trent Emery shares. “Undertaking an analysis of our farm’s business has allowed our farm to make informative decisions that have resulted in meeting our financial, philosophical, and family goals as a small vegetable farm in Maine.”  

Emery Farm will use the $48,276 award to assist with new infrastructure costs as they scale up production of crops under protected growing environments. The new structures will allow them to grow more for their institutional markets.

This is the third year MFT has offered implementation grants for farms that have participated in the 201 Farming For Wholesale program. “Access to financing to implement new changes and ideas on farms continues to be a challenge,” said Alex Fouliard, Farming for Wholesale Program Manager. “MFT is pleased to be able to fill that need and keep the momentum moving forward for these farms.”  

Learn more about Farming for Wholesale.

Four farm businesses receive $50K grants from MFT to scale-up to new markets

Kathi Langelier of Herbal Revolution (left) and Kelsey Herrington of Two Farmers Farm (right, photo by Greta Rybus)

MFT has awarded grants to four farms of approximately $50,000 to implement changes in order to scale up their businesses. The farms participated in the 201 track of MFT’s Farming for Wholesale program and spent two years working with business advisors to research and define business plans focused on scaling up for wholesale markets. These implementation grants are competitive and applications undergo an extensive review process by a committee comprised of MFT staff and industry consultants.

The 2018 crop of grantees, all of who received around $50,000, include Tide Mill Creamery in Edmunds, Two Farmers Farm in Scarborough, Herbal Revolution in Union, and Broadturn Farm in Scarborough. The farms will use the grant funds to scale-up infrastructure, equipment, and expand marketing efforts.

Rachel Bell and Nate Horton of Tide Mill Creamery constructed new housing for their herd and made improvements to their pastures, and installed a 100-gallon vat pasteurizer, which will allow them to sell cheese across state lines. Kelsey Herrington and Dominic Pascarelli, of Two Farmers Farm, will implement a new business plan to sell more vegetables in mainstream markets while maintaining a high level of product quality, and quality of life. Kathi Langelier, of Herbal Revolution, created a plan that scales production to meet national demand for her herbal line. She will also invest in the business’ brand, and create new jobs in farm operations, sales, marketing, and production management. Farmers John Bliss and Stacy Brenner of Broadturn Farm are using the funds to cultivate their brand and marketing to create new opportunities within the floral industry. This includes infrastructure that will help them pave the way for the burgeoning local flower market.

This is the second year MFT has offered implementation grants for farms that completed the 201 Farming For Wholesale program. “Access to financing to implement new changes and ideas continues to be a challenge,” said Alex Fouliard, Farming for Wholesale program manager. “MFT is pleased to be able to fill that need and keep momentum moving forward for these farms.”

Let's grow a bright future for farming in Maine, together.

Sourcing Local Made Easier: Farmer + Buyer Workshop

This workshop is for farmers who have participated in Farming for Wholesale (including farmers participating in 2018). Maine-based buyers who source Maine-grown products, or would like to start sourcing local products.

Farmers – how could you be marketing your products better for wholesale? Buyers – how could you get more of the local products you want, at the time of year you can sell them? In this workshop, we will tackle these questions together and work to smooth out kinks in the local supply chain.

Participating farmers and wholesale buyers (such as department managers and general managers in retail stores, restaurants, and other Maine-based buyers of local food) will have the opportunity to:

  • Understand pricing strategies (both cost and value based), and to learn how to set prices that will be sustainable for all parties involved.
  • Share tips and experiences on best communication protocols such as winter meetings, growing season updates, and price sheets/availability lists.
  • Coordinate strategy for packaging and promoting local foods.
  • Develop crop-planning methods that produce better consistency and value for all parties.
  • Develop empathy and a deeper understanding of what it’s like to be in the shoes of someone else along the supply chain.

 

Free to attend!  Please REGISTER here by 12/29

Northern Maine Agri-Business Trade Fair Workshop

Farming for Wholesale Workshop in Presque Isle (Cancelled)

THIS WORKSHOP HAS BEEN CANCELLED. If you would like to learn about future workshops, please contact Alex Fouliard: (207) 338-6575 or alex@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Are you an experienced farmer who wants make more money wholesaling your products? The Business of Farming for Wholesale could help you get there! This one-day workshop, based on Maine Farmland Trust’s Farming for Wholesale program, will examine wholesale from many different angles. Jed Beach, of FarmSmart, will lead the workshop focusing on production costing and marketing of wholesale products. During the workshop you’ll have a chance to:

  • Use last year’s actual records to find your most (& least) profitable crops.
  • Create and evaluate different financial scenarios for your farm business.
  • Investigate some of the most beneficial wholesale production, marketing, and distribution techniques.
  • Meet some of the other wholesale farmers and some wholesale buyers in your area.

In addition, each farm will receive follow-up technical assistance tailored to your farm’s growth strategy. This extremely valuable technical assistance will help you transfer what you’ve learned in the workshop to your specific farm needs.

When: Friday, March 24, 9am-4pm

Where:  Northern Maine Agri-Business Trade Fair, Presque Isle

Cost: $35.  Upon completion of the workshop and your successful participation in technical assistance, all farms will be awarded $200 in seed money.

Please note: Lunch will not be included in this event. Please plan to bring a brown bag lunch.

For more information contact, Alex Fouliard: (207) 338-6575 or alex@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

This workshop is hosted by the Fort Fairfield Chamber of Commerce and Maine Farmland Trust.

 

THIS WORKSHOP HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

Farming for Wholesale Workshop in Fryeburg

Farming For Wholesale Workshop

Are you an experienced farmer who wants make more money wholesaling your products? The Business of Farming for Wholesale could help you get there! This one-day workshop, based on Maine Farmland Trust’s Farming for Wholesale program, will examine wholesale from many different angles. Jed Beach, of FarmSmart, will lead the workshop focusing on production costing and marketing of wholesale products. During the workshop you’ll have a chance to:

  • Use last year’s actual records to find your most (& least) profitable crops.
  • Create and evaluate different financial scenarios for your farm business.
  • Investigate some of the most beneficial wholesale production, marketing, and distribution techniques.
  • Meet some of the other wholesale farmers and some wholesale buyers in your area.

In addition, each farm will receive follow-up technical assistance tailored to your farm’s growth strategy. This extremely valuable technical assistance will help you transfer what you’ve learned in the workshop to your specific farm needs.

When: Saturday, February 4, 9am-4pm

Where: Fryeburg Academy—Fryeburg, Maine

Cost: $35 (to help cover the costs of lunch).  Upon completion of the workshop and your successful participation in technical assistance, all farms located in Maine will be awarded $500 in seed money. There is a net gain of $465 to Maine farms!

For more information contact, Jesse Wright at Upper Saco Valley Land Trust:603-356-9683 or info@usvlt.org.

This workshop is hosted by Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, Maine Farmland Trust, and the Maine Network of Food Councils.

Registration will close Friday, January 20th, 2017.

 

HERE’S WHAT FARMERS SAY ABOUT THE PROGRAM:

“I’ve put my time with Wholesale 101 on my list of the top ten things I’ve done to ensure Eldertide & Maine Medicinals’ success.”

-Edie Johnston, Eldertide Farm & Maine Medicinals

“Having you vet and correct my spreadsheets while providing additional thoughts as to which areas of my business I should be concerned with made all the difference to my bottom line this year. We made more income than ever, largely due to this workshop.”

–Chris Cavendish, Fishbowl Farm

maine course sodexo

Sodexo’s Maine Course Scaling Up Events

On November 1st and 3rd the Sodexo in partnership with the University of Maine System will hold the inaugural Scaling Up Events as part of the Maine Course initiative.

This one-day forum is a supply chain training and networking opportunity for growers, processors, and distributors. The goal of this event is to foster collective learning about selling locally grown and/or manufactured products within the commercial and non-commercial food service industry. Sodexo leadership from the state of Maine along with their supply management team will be working together to further this conversation on these very important topics.

In 2015, Sodexo made a commitment to the state of Maine to increase local food purchasing at all of accounts in Maine, a commitment called the Maine Course.  You are invited to come learn more about how Sodexo’s Maine Course commitment will impact local purchasing in Maine and if selling, or increasing current sales, into the food service industry might be the right fit for your operation.

Topics covered are intended to build business to business relationships between the producers, distributors, and buyers in the room, including topics like:

  • How Sodexo’s food procurement works
  • How the University of Maine Orono’s food procurement works
  • Maine Course as a local procurement strategy
  • Trends in the food service industry
  • Regional and national distributor interfacing
  • Approved vendor process
  • Stories from producers about their path in selling to Sodexo

If you are interested in attending, we ask that you register for the event nearest you.

NOTE: The content of the events will be the same at each location therefore you need only attend one date.

Registration for the November 1st event:

https://sodexoscalingupeventnov1.eventbrite.com

 

Registration for the November 3rd event:

https://sodexoscalingupeventnov3.eventbrite.com

maine course sodexo

Sodexo’s Maine Course Scaling Up Events

On November 1st and 3rd the Sodexo in partnership with the University of Maine System will hold the inaugural Scaling Up Events as part of the Maine Course initiative.

This one-day forum is a supply chain training and networking opportunity for growers, processors, and distributors. The goal of this event is to foster collective learning about selling locally grown and/or manufactured products within the commercial and non-commercial food service industry. Sodexo leadership from the state of Maine along with their supply management team will be working together to further this conversation on these very important topics.

In 2015, Sodexo made a commitment to the state of Maine to increase local food purchasing at all of accounts in Maine, a commitment called the Maine Course.  You are invited to come learn more about how Sodexo’s Maine Course commitment will impact local purchasing in Maine and if selling, or increasing current sales, into the food service industry might be the right fit for your operation.

Topics covered are intended to build business to business relationships between the producers, distributors, and buyers in the room, including topics like:

  • How Sodexo’s food procurement works
  • How the University of Maine Orono’s food procurement works
  • Maine Course as a local procurement strategy
  • Trends in the food service industry
  • Regional and national distributor interfacing
  • Approved vendor process
  • Stories from producers about their path in selling to Sodexo

If you are interested in attending, we ask that you register for the event nearest you.

NOTE: The content of the events will be the same at each location therefore you need only attend one date.

Registration for the November 1st event:

https://sodexoscalingupeventnov1.eventbrite.com

 

Registration for the November 3rd event:

https://sodexoscalingupeventnov3.eventbrite.com

Maine Medicinals and Farming for Wholesale

On a gray, misty day last week, I visited Edie Johnston at her farm in Dresden. Edie’s farm looks quite different from other farms I’ve visited for MFT: there are no animals (aside from her son’s dog), and just one high tunnel, in addition to long rows of different perennial plants and large piles of mulch at various spots around the property. This farm is the growing space for Maine Medicinals, a certified organic processor and manufacturer of standardized nutraceuticals from locally-sourced plants. This year, Edie participated in MFT’s farm business planning program Farming for Wholesale, which helps Maine farmers better serve wholesale markets.

Edie and her husband Phil moved to Portland, Maine from Pennsylvania in 2002, and bought their home in Dresden Mills in 2003.

“I saw elderberries growing wild throughout Maine, and in particular abundance  along the Eastern River which flows by our house.” Edie said. “I wondered if Maine’s native medicinal berries and botanicals were especially high in health-promoting constituents, and when that was verified through my research, I was interested in seeing if they could be grown organically at a commercial scale.”

Her federal and state funded research led to establishing both the farm and Maine Medicinals. In 2009, their son Geo joined them in Maine to help launch their first product, Anthoimmune– an organic elderberry syrup.  Geo’s wife, Sarah has also since joined the family business.

The process of finding farmland took almost a year and they looked at dozens of places. “We choose Dresden because it’s close to Portland and like many small rural towns in Maine, it had an inherent beauty and great history; not to mention lots of agricultural opportunities.” They have since expanded the original purchase and also expanded their manufacturing facilities last year,  moving production from their farmhouse in Dresden to the Ames Mill in Richmond.

Edie found out about Farming for Wholesale through Daniel McPhee, director of MOFGA’s Education program. “He sent me an e-mail introducing MFT’s Wholesale 101 program. Our business is about 90% wholesale. To keep up with distribution of Anthoimmune we need the farm to produce at it’s highest capacity.  As we increase distribution and expand our product offerings, we recognized the need for the tools and know-how to keep pace, effectively manage farm expenses, and improve overall efficiency.”

Edie says taking the workshop was one of the smartest and most timely things she has done to support the success of both aspects of the business: farming and wholesale manufacturing.

Edie was also impressed by the fact that in addition to leading the workshops, Jed Beach and Alex Fouliard both visited the farm and offered their expertise and suggestions- which she immediately put into place by refining their accounting practices and purchasing key equipment to support the sustainability and profitability of their organic orchard, among other things.

“One great example of this expert advice was Jed’s recommendation to look into buying a Millcreek Mulcher. This tractor attachment allow us to efficiently apply mulch row by row in our orchard. Every year I use literally hundreds of yards of biomass (ramiel mulch, dried leaves, compost, grass clippings, etc.)  to keep our orchard healthy, our plants happy and the rows of berried and botanicals  weed free. Before the mulcher we were applying mulch several times a year by hand, and the labor costs were quite high.  In less than two years the purchase price of the mulcher will be fully offset by savings in labor costs.”

Why focus on helping farmers like Edie sell wholesale? MFT believes the next wave of growth for local agriculture will be to help farmers scale-up and tap into wholesale markets in ways that retain the best features of local agriculture. This includes ensuring that adequate benefits flow back to the farmers.

“Wholesale is an important, and sometimes overlooked, market in Maine’s local food economy.” says Alex Fouliard, director of Farming for Wholesale. According to the Maine Food Strategy’s 2014 Consumer Survey Report, 97% of Mainers purchase the majority of their food from a wholesale market. Wholesale includes grocery stores, co-ops, institutions, restaurants, food hubs, and other kinds of distributors. In the Farming for Wholesale program, we’re helping farms tap into these markets – by helping farmers identify their products best suited for wholesale, assess infrastructure and equipment needs, or whatever challenges and goals farmers hope to achieve through selling to wholesale markets.

There are several innovative models and initiatives going on around the state to achieve this larger goal (including the market development work of the Unity Food Hub and MFT’s FINI grant to expand the customer base at local food retailers). The Farming for Wholesale program is focused on helping farmers with the business planning to be able to produce for these types of markets.

“The most exciting part to me, is how eager farmers are to get involved,” says Alex. “There’s been so much interest in the program and seeing farms want to get started immediately has assured me that we are truly meeting a need for the farming community.” She goes on, “We’re hearing from farmers that they see wholesale as the best way to grow their businesses. Whether their direct-to-consumer markets are saturated, or too resource intensive, for logistical reasons, or for personal reasons, wholesale is where many farmers see potential for growth.” The Farming for Wholesale program helps farms — big or small —  determine how best to enter or expand wholesale markets, and do so in ways that are profitable and sustainable.

Edie says they are working hard to see that Maine Medicinals remains on the cutting edge by continuing their research, developing new products and increasing production capacity and efficiency.

“As Americans increasingly look to holistic approaches to health care, we want offer high quality, locally grown and produced formulas that they can count on,” she says. “We see great opportunity here.”

Edie would love to see organic and sustainable farming initiatives continue to expand. “There is a huge opportunity to bring marginalized  farmland into greater production for plants like elderberries, aronia and other emerging high-value specialty crops. As consumer demand for these specialty crops increases, producers and manufacturers are looking to farm partners to provide raw materials, and farmers are going to need to connect with these markets.  Within the herbal supplement industry, this is just now beginning to emerge.”

They recently purchased the Ames Mill, a beautiful old mill building located on the Kennebec River in Richmond. “This beautiful building is a key element to our story. The space will allow us to expand our own production, but we will also be leasing out available space. We would love share the building with other producers, and to encourage that next phase of growth other small businesses.”

Maine Medicinals’ mission is to optimize human health by merging ancient herbal traditions with current phytomedicinal research. They believe in the generational knowledge that comes from the field and grows in the heart. Expanding the larger, and continuously growing, community of artists, producers and manufacturing definitely fits into their company vision.

Learn more about Farming for Wholesale here.

Registration for the 2017 Farming for Wholesale program opens on Tuesday, November 1st.
201 track application deadline is December 1st, and 101 workshop registration deadline is January 6th.

Support for MFT’s work makes services and program such as Farming for Wholesale available to farmers. Become a member to make this work possible.

Farming for Wholesale helps farms scale up

MFT recently launched Farming for Wholesale, a farm business planning program that helps Maine farmers better serve wholesale markets.

Wholesale is an important, and sometimes overlooked, market in Maine’s local food economy. According to the Maine Food Strategy’s 2014 Consumer Survey Report, 97% of Mainers purchase the majority of their food from a wholesale market. Wholesale includes grocery stores, co-ops, institutions, restaurants, food hubs, and other kinds of distributors. In the Farming for Wholesale program, we’re helping farms tap into these markets – by helping farmers identify their products best suited for wholesale, assess infrastructure and equipment needs, or whatever challenges and goals farmers hope to achieve through selling to wholesale markets.

This year, Christelle and Jon of Copper Tail Farm in Waldoboro are one of 22 farms participating in the program. The couple raises Nubian and Nigerian goats, and produces goat milk yogurt, cajeta (goat milk caramel sauce), caramels, and goat milk soap. Christelle and Jon moved from Oregon to Maine several years ago, with 8 goats and 28 chickens. Now, they’ve grown their herd and started a creamery. They applied to the Farming for Wholesale program to help guide their growth.

Farms participating in the program attend a series of workshops, then work with a team of technical assistance providers throughout the year. Farms can work on anything from figuring out which of their products are most profitable and how to expand production to marketing materials and labels that include all the information required by a distributor. Alex Fouliard, the program manager explains, “The technical assistance is completely individualized to the farm, based on what their goals and challenges are, which is really valuable. We’re really grateful for the team of organizations offering their expertise through this program.” There’s also financial incentive for farms participating – since funding is often one of the biggest hurdles for growth. All the farms who complete the 101 track receive a seed grant, and the 201 track farms will have the opportunity to apply for larger, implementation grants.

“The wholesale program gave me the tools and skills I needed to look at my numbers in ways I never had thought to do previously,” said Christelle. “It really made me look at my individual enterprises and determine what was making, or losing, money. The one-on-one technical assistance I received was invaluable. The seed money was also incredible- I’ve seen workshops advertised that look like they would be great for my business, but the cost of them makes it impossible for me, and many other small farms, to attend. There was absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t take this course, and I’m so glad that I did!”

Why focus on helping farmers sell wholesale? MFT believes the next wave of growth for local agriculture will be to help farmers scale-up and tap into wholesale markets in ways that retain the best features of local agriculture. This includes ensuring that adequate benefits flow back to the farmers. “Absolutely, we are making sure farmers’ time is included in their costs,” said Alex. There are several innovative models and initiatives going on around the state to achieve this larger goal (including the market development work of the Unity Food Hub and MFT’s FINI grant to expand the customer base at local food retailers). The Farming for Wholesale program is focused on helping farmers with the business planning to be able to produce for these types of markets.

“The most exciting part to me, is how eager farmers are to get involved,” says Alex. “There’s been so much interest in the program and seeing farms want to get started immediately has assured me that we are truly meeting a need for the farming community.” She goes on, “We’re hearing from farmers that they see wholesale as the best way to grow their businesses. Whether their direct-to-consumer markets are saturated, or too resource intensive, for logistical reasons, or for personal reasons, wholesale is where many farmers see potential for growth.” The Farming for Wholesale program helps farms — big or small —  determine how best to enter or expand wholesale markets, and do so in ways that are profitable and sustainable.

Learn more about Farming for Wholesale here. Support for MFT’s work makes services and program such as Farming for Wholesale available to farmers. Become a member to make this work possible.