Farm and foods

Ideas to help agricultural and food business market themselves better, expand their customer base and boost profits.

Monday deadline for Adirondack food guide

A local food guide for Warren, Washington and Saratoga Counties is being prepared with funds from USDA. Adirondack Harvest will include farms and processors,  farmers’ markets, and CSA programs, as well as  stores, food cooperatives, and restaurants that feature locally sourced ingredients. To submit your listing information by email, follow these directions. Deadline is Monday, March 28, 2016.

Boost revenue from farmers markets

Agricultural producers can boost their profits by learning marketing sales strategies  at workshop sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension  in Canandaigua on March 29, 2016.  Both market managers and farmers will be able to enroll at the workshop to increase their customer base by becoming SNAP/EBT program eligible members.  Read more and register.

Farmers market manager certification offered

Farmers markets boost rural economic development. That’s why New York State recently announced creation of an online program to train managers of farmers’ markets, who typically are volunteers, in how to meet the needs of both consumers and producers for their mutual benefit.  Participants must complete all 22 sessions within 12 months. Get details here.

How could your business adapt this idea?

For 10 years, Cornell Cooperative Extension  of Jefferson County has held Agriculture Literacy Week in local elementary schools using reading and writing activities with an agriculture focus.

How could you make a “literacy week” for a topic related to your business? How about transportation literacy week? Food literacy week? Solar literacy week? Theme weeks offer PR opportunities, especially when they involve photogenic children.

Catskills Food Guide available now

Never overlook the opportunity to learn from other businesses in your sector. Free copies of the 2016 Catskills Food Guide can be picked up in over 100 locations in Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties. If there’s no location near you, buy a digital edition for $4.99 to read on your device.

How to find new growth opportunities

If you want to grow your farm or food business, you need to keep looking for new customers. Check out these seven key initiatives  for every company seeking new sources of growth.

Capitalize on environmental issues

General Mills Canada has  yanked its iconic mascot from its Honey Nut Cheerios boxes. In  place of  Buzz is the white silhouette of a bumblebee. The company says the move is to  draw attention to the worsening global reduction in natural pollinators, such as honeybees, and the world food shortage that could result.

What popular environmental cause related to your farm business or your food business make part of its marketing?


Business idea starters

Sources to skim for business ideas. Holiday promotions, post-holiday promotions. More.

Technology: A CPU you can carry in a pocket

With a CPU smaller than an index card and Windows 10 installed, Kangaroo lets you plug into any monitor you currently use. Currently $99 at and available this month at other retailers.

Places to market your craft tutorials online

Whether you want to sell crafts online or sell tutorials about crafting as sideline to your offline retail craft business, one of these 29 places ought to fit your needs.

Share a cause, promote your community

Show your community spirit this holiday season by promoting via social media one of the community organizations you’ve supported this year. Write a three-sentence story that organization ending with a plug for shopping local. Click for language to use.

Check grant funded programs for ideas

Federal Department of Agriculture value-added grants were recently announced. Check the list of funded projects to see if something your agriculture-based business is working on is similar to one funded elsewhere previously. Even if don’t qualify for a grant, you might unearth an idea your rural New York small business could try.

Prepare now for post-holiday sales slump

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, but it will be over soon. Plan now for the post-holiday shopping slump.

Different ways to cash in on farm products

Taking a different approach to traditional farm business plans is paying off for some innovators. Take a look at these three:

  • Patrick Lango decided wholesale milk production was an untenable business model for his East Otto, NY, farm. Now he’s has a small retail dairy business with a farm store in a dense residential area of Buffalo.
  • A New York City chef and Cornell University plant scientist are collaborating on development of bred-to-order fruits and vegetables for today’s market.
  • Putting vegetable, herb and flower seeds in pencils whose stubs can be planted is allowing Sprout World to turn trash into a salable product.

Think differently about your marketing

In a recent newsletter, Andy Sernovitz shares three examples of details people notice, appreciate, and talk about:

1. Details that make things easier
2. Details that recognize a pain point
3. Details that are just cool

How could your business capitalize on one of those three details?

Can you make money doing that?

Ben Frank was told he couldn’t make money in youth hockey, but he put his life savings into trying. He learned he needed to change before he could grow a successful business.


New twists

New business locations. New delivery methods. New tools. More.

Hard cider company moves upstate

Empire Cider Company is moving to Geneva from Beacon, NY, to take advantage of local apples and expertise, including Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva and the Finger Lakes Community College Viticulture and Wine Center.

USDA underwrites a new taste for hospital food

The US Department of Agriculture has awarded Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus a $25,000 grant to develop a farm-to-hospital food program.

Don’t make any of these four branding goofs

Four common branding mistakes any business starting out should avoid begin with not having a clear idea what the brand stands for. Learn more here.

Mobile marketing drives sales for these SBOs

Check this condensed version of profiles of three small businesses—an orchard, a craft supply shop, and a print provider—for tips on doing mobile marketing well.  (A link to the full version is in the article.)

Coming soon: A bookkeeper on freelancers’ phones

Track, a phone app, helps freelancers with their bookkeeping. Track figures out tax withholding so freelancers pay correct amounts on time and avoid penalties. Freelancers can join the beta waiting list now.

ZOHO launches inventory management program

Zoho, one of the best and least-known of the small business office suites, has added a new service called Inventory. Inventory can be used for online-only businesses as well as for those with a physical sales site. Inventory manages order processing, customer data, tracks offline sales, and local sales. Free 14-day trial for new users.

Stamford is food delivery innovation center

An Upstater has found a way to make money from organic gardening without lifting a hoe. Mike Geller and two full-time workers pick up produce at more than two dozen farms. Then they package and deliver orders to customers within a 50 mile radius of their warehouse in Stamford, Delaware County. Mike’s Organics Delivery makes over 400 deliveries per week, pulling in $1 million in annual sales.

Understand your web and/or mobile website visitors

A new, easy-to-understand tool called Hotjar will help analyze traffic to your web and mobile site  and spot your best opportunities for improvement. Hotjar offers free signup, no credit card required.

New problem: Sugar Maples’ growth slowing

The trees that produce maple syrup, sugar maples, are in decline in the Adirondacks—and researchers don’t know why. Ecosphere journal article is here.

One of 20 tips for business growth: Plan to leave

Don Antonelli has been in business 20 years. He has 20 business-building tips, including this often-overlooked reminder:

At some point, plan for an exit strategy. While you may never execute that exact exit strategy, it’s important to have one in place. You never know what the future holds. Plan for a day when you may need to leave your business or hand it off to someone else. Design your business so that it can run in your absence; otherwise, it will hold little value to a potential buyer.