On Monday, March 23, Cornell Harvest NY and Field & Fork Network will be hosting a WNY Buyer-Grower Conference. While most of us are aware that the local agriculture, culinary, and food trade scene is growing, few people are aware to what extent. This conference will discuss the local food system and its economic impact on the are.
Along with a series of workshops, there will also be an opportunity to connect with other players and leaders in the ever-growing food-system space. Attendees will be able to network with others, and even showcase their products. Whether you are a farmer, a chef, a product maker, etc., you can only get so far without knowing the lay of the land when it comes to selling, purchasing, marketing, and so forth. That’s why this is such a great opportunity to take your culinary business to a whole other level.
WNY Buyer-Grower Conference
The schedule for the day:
- 8:00am-9:00am: Vendor Marketplace set up
- 9:00am-10:00am: Registration and Vendor marketplace
- 10:00am-10:30am: Welcome
10:30am-11:45am: Workshop Session 1 (concurrent sessions)
Market Channel Assessment (growers)
Matt LeRoux, Agriculture Marketing Consultant
This workshop will cover the factors of market channel performance, how to evaluate market channels, and how to maximize your effort in each channel through marketing strategy. The target audience for this workshop is farmers of varying sizes.
Finding/Buying Local Foods (buyers)
Cheryl Thayer, Cornell Harvest NY
Finding local foods poses many challenges for today’s chefs and food buyers. This workshop will feature some innovative ways to tap into the local food supply that will work for any business model. The target audience for this workshop are food buyers interested in sourcing products from local farmers.
11:30am-1:00pm: Lunch & Keynote
Defining the Food System Asset Class, Toby Rittner, Council of Development Finance Agencies
With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) is researching how traditional development finance tools – such as bonds, TIF, tax credits, RLFs, and more – can be utilized to develop and enhance local food systems. The premise of this project is to suggest and then prove that, if organized and defined properly, the food system can become a defined asset class worthy of traditional investment, similar to the way roads, bridges, schools, libraries, and other critical infrastructure pieces are financed. During this session, CDFA will present their approach to create the food system asset class by sharing the CDFA Food Finance White Paper Series and presenting pilot projects as case studies.
1:00pm-2:15pm: Workshop Session 2 (concurrent sessions)
Supply Chain Facilitation (small scale – restaurants, small grocers, etc.)
Tim Bartlett, Lexington Cooperative Market
Caitlin LoVullo, Lexington Cooperative Market & Cornerstone Orchards
Gina & Gary Wieczorek, Produce Peddlers
The best way to learn about local supply chains is to hear from those who have made it work. This workshop will focus on small scale supply chains – restaurants, small grocers, etc.
Finding Capital To Support Your Food System Business 1 (development finance overview)
Toby Rittner & Allison Rowland, Council of Development Finance Agencies
Food systems are a critical component of local economies. Although financing for food and agriculture businesses may be perceived has difficult to access, communities throughout the country are financing their food system with various innovative strategies to support local markets, first time farmers, new food enterprises, and neighborhoods lacking access to fresh foods. This session will explore the various development financing tools available for food-related businesses and projects, such as access to capital lending sources for food businesses, bonds for farmers, tax credits for food processors, and many other financing tools used to support the local food system industry. Creative and tangible food system financing case studies will be presented alongside the fundamentals of development finance.
2:15-3:45: Workshop Session 3 (concurrent sessions)
Supply Chain Facilitation (large scale – school districts, hospitals, etc.)
Bridget O’Brien – Wood, Buffalo Public Schools
Dave Walczak, Eden Valley Growers & Western NY Food Hub
The best way to learn about local supply chains is to hear from those who have made it work. This workshop will focus on large scale supply chains – school districts, hospitals, etc.
Finding Capital To Support Your Food System Business 2 (panel discussion)
Joel Moyer, Fair Food Fund
Bob Doyle & Yanush Sanmugaraja, Westminster Economic Development Initiative
Genga Ponnampalam, Go Veggies
Michele Liddle, The Perfect Granola
Hear from funders and food business entrepreneurs about the challenges on finding the right funding to support your food system business.
4:00-6:00: Vendor Marketplace/Networking Happy Hour
Tickets: $55 – $115 | Register here
The event will culminate with a happy hour where attendees will have the opportunity to network. Tickets for the conference are $65.00 per person or $115 which includes a table and one general admission ticket. Food related businesses are encouraged to table and showcase their products. The opportunity to sell goods will also be available.