Extending Local Farm to Table Distribution
HUDSON, NY — October 31, 2012 — Until recently, Ken Migliorelli, from Migliorelli Farm in Tivoli, has not had the ability to produce value added products from his own produce and sell them to local buyers in the New York City Greenmarket.
“For years I had been trying to find ways to add value to my farm and bring more products to my NYC customers. The creation of Farm to Table Co-packers has allowed me to grow a whole line of Migliorelli Farm products, including tomato juice, tomato sauce, apple sauce and frozen vegetables. Farm to Table Co-packers is an important asset to my farm and to farms in the region,” Migliorelli explains.
Hard work from a number of groups and some investment capital has allowed Migliorelli and other local producers to expand product lines, create new products and to meet the growing demand for more local products. Today, the USDA-certified 30,000 square food processing facility on the site of a former IBM facility in Kingston serves over 60 local farms and 45 private label food companies. With a processing line, bakery, incubator/test kitchen, cutting-edge freezing system, refrigeration, storage and multiple loading docks, Farm to Table Co-Packers had become a ‘food hub’ for the Hudson Valley region, providing the infrastructure that small farms and producers cannot achieve on their own, and enabling many to extend their selling season to twelve months. Farm to Table had sales of over $1.25 million in 2011 and is projecting to grow sales to over $4 million by 2015. In 2012 Farm to Table has already handled more than 1,000,000 pounds in NY farm product.
When Jim Hyland, owner of Winter Sun Farm and then a partner in Farm to Table Co-Packers had a vision to create a state-of-the art commercial kitchen and processing facility that would allow Hudson Valley farms to extend their revenue streams year round by developing value-added products, he turned to the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) for development assistance. Based in Hudson New York, the non-profit HVADC assists both new and existing agri-businesses such as farms, food businesses and food distributors by providing technical and business consultation and resources.
Hyland’s Winter Sun Farm and its full year CSA had already been one of the HVADC’s first incubator clients, so supporting Hyland’s processing facility project further solidified the relationship. Over a period of two years, HVADC lent its consultation services to help Hyland refine his business plan, find an available site, write grant applications, gain independence from his partner, attain USDA and other certification, arrange for equipment financing and leasing, product marketing materials, and open doors to niche market channels, particularly in the education segment.
The assistance HVADC lends to local agri-businesses is as unique as the new emerging business models in agricultural entrepreneurship. Most notably, HVADC helped Hyland secure $500,000 private funding through Imprint Capital, a San Francisco based impact investment firm, with strategic support from the Local Economies Project (LEP) of the New World Foundation.
“Farm to Table was our first project picked up and funded well by a socially responsible investment group,” according to Todd Erling, Executive Director, HVADC. “Our projects are now beginning to attract this caliber of social finance which is so important to the entrepreneurial agribusiness movement because it bridges the gaps between private investment and grants, as we all work toward a sustainable and equitable food system,” he continued.
“We have seen strong growth in interest among our clients for investments supporting vibrant local food ecosystems. This opportunity was a chance for us to help our clients achieve their goals by investing in a truly impactful project that had strong community engagement and a great set of partners” says Taylor Jordan, Managing Director of Imprint Capital.
“With New York City’s unmet need for local food valued at $860 million per year, the opportunity and need for this market infrastructure is greater than ever,” commented Jerry Cosgrove, Associate Director of the Local Economies Project of the New World Foundation. “The Hudson Valley is a pioneering microcosm at the northern juncture of one of the largest food markets in the United States — here, as in local economies nationwide, the greatest impact we can have is in supporting entrepreneurs in their transitions toward resiliency. Farm to Table is a central pillar in building this resiliency.”
Collaborating with the Hudson Valley Harvest label, Farm to Table is now in competition under an umbrella Hudson Valley Food Hub project for New York state Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) grants to support further expansion and increase distribution capacity. The Hudson Valley Harvest label, representing over 25 farms growing on over 5,000 acres, provides reliable and convenient delivery of Hudson Valley produce and value added product to the New York City market.
“We have been identified as a Priority Project for the CFA funding by both the Mid-Hudson and Capital Region Economic Development Councils, and are looking forward to being able to move forward with our plans which will bring substantial benefits to our participating farms, but also to the region,” reported Jim Hyland. “The assistance that we have received from Imprint Capital and the New World Foundation has enabled us to be in competitive position for the state program,” he acknowledged.
When fully funded, the Hudson Valley Food Hub is projected to create 23 new jobs, as well as 12 construction jobs in Kingston, and an additional 6 New York State jobs outside the region. In addition, the Food Hub will propel increase farm family income and jobs at participating farms as well as increase access to healthy, locally grown foods for consumers in New York City, the Hudson Valley and across New York State.
“Limitations in distribution channels and access and capacity constraints in processing have been bottlenecks in the development of local food systems,” Erling maintains. “Our hope is that the Hudson Valley Food Hub will open up the flow and basically create additional opportunities for our region’s farms both geographically as well as seasonally.”