Thursday, October 16, 2014
A Small Farmer Stays In Business &Loves The New York Greenmarket
What is poorly understood is that the capital cost of processing has steadily dropped in comparison to the capital budgets taken on by agriculture. Thus setting up a processing line able to handle decent volumes and provide refrigerated storage is practical. Even better, you can crank out your own brand of the bulk material that you grow or raise.
But that in place and you add heavily to your gross because you no longer ship unprocessed. Even slaughtering means bringing in the professionals for a few days work. As posted before, an acquintence packages cut turkey for direct retail sales at his nearby chains.
Right now this all looks marginal, but I think that the ultimate ending of the subsidy game will blow the door wide open.
Here's A Fascinating Explanation Of How A Small Farmer Stays In Business — And Why He Loves The New York Greenmarket
Over the last century, American farming has experienced a consolidation towards large agricultural corporations. In 1935, there were approximately 6.8 million farms in the US. By 2000, that number had plummeted to 2.2 million. Today, we're down to 2.1 million. Meanwhile, the highest income bracket for farms now accounts for 66.4% of US agricultural products sold, up from 47.5% in 2002.
In this age of corporate agriculture, family farms that have survived have done so by capitalizing on the local food movement: selling to organic and specialty supermarkets, selling wholesale to restaurants, selling shares of a farm's harvest directly through community-supported agriculture (CSAs), and selling at farmer's markets.
We talked to one local farmer who has managed to adapt and thrive in this challenging environment: Kevin Smith of upstate New York’s Sycamore Farms. Sycamore, like many in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, has turned nearly exclusively to one source for revenue: the New York City Greenmarkets.
Kevin Smith, the co-owner of Sycamore Farms.
The New York City Greenmarket was founded in 1976 by New York City architect Barry Benepe to support local farms that were too small to sell to wholesalers. What began as a one-day-a-week farmer's market in Union Square supporting seven farmers has exploded. Today, the Greenmarket runs 52 farmer's markets in different locations in the city, supporting 240 farmers in seven states.
"We cut out the middle man between producers and consumers by providing regional farmers direct access to their customers," Michael Hurtwitz, the director of the Greenmarkets for GrowNYC, told Business Insider.
Sycamore was one of the first farms at the market, joining up in 1981. Henry Smith, the founder of Sycamore Farms and Kevin’s father, recognized the potential of the Greenmarket early.
"Everyone was bragging about how much money there was in the greenmarkets and so we went down to see if there was any money left," Henry told The Times Herald Record last year.
It turned out there was, not just for Sycamore but for other farms as well. According to Hurwitz, the overwhelming majority of farms that sell at the Greenmarket derive their main source of income from the markets. 85% of the Greenmarket farmers told Hurwitz they would be out of business if it weren't for the markets.
Today, the Union Square market, Greenmarket's flagship market and the only one that Sycamore attends, runs four days a week, year round. On an average September Friday, 360,000 people pass through the market. More pass through on Saturdays. While other Greenmarket locations are equally lucrative, no other market has that kind of foot traffic.