Videos feature 7 top crops and farmer-to-farmer advice
Small produce farms have growing opportunity in wholesale markets as consumer demand for just-picked freshness continues to increase. Now, the Demystifying Wholesale video series is here to help small and beginning farmers turn up the volume and add wholesale to their business mix.
The eight-video series features Kansas City-area produce growers with farmer-to-farmer advice on producing, packing, and marketing vegetables for local wholesale markets. Each video digs into the details of seven different top wholesale crops: Salad greens, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, and brassicas (broccoli and cauliflower).
The eighth bonus video packages up helpful perspective from four wholesale buyers of local produce: A large suburban school district, corporate cafeteria, farmer-owned food hub, and regional distributor.
Demystifying Wholesale is free and on YouTube.WATCH NOW
It is produced by the Food Systems Program at West Central Missouri Community Action Agency as part of its Beginning Farmer Wholesale Project in association with the Growing Growers KC program.
“Consumer demand for local food is growing, and farmers can benefit from this by growing for wholesale,” said producer Katie Nixon, Food Systems Director at West Central Missouri Community Action Agency. “Demystifying Wholesale offers practical guidance from Midwest farmers who have done it.”
Family Farm Futures
Jacob Thomas, of JET Produce and Meats, is one of the farmers who share their tips and strategies in Demystifying Wholesale. His young farmer story of diversifying the family operation and building a full-time career is the kind of outcome that producers of Demystifying Wholesale hope the series will support with how-to help.
Thomas started off experimentally in 2013 with half an acre in vegetables and a roadside farm stand on his family’s traditional row crop and livestock farm. Now JET Produce and Meats is up to 12 acres of vegetables for sale to wholesale buyers along with sales on the farm and at farmers’ markets.
“We haven’t looked back,” Thomas said. “We keep growing trying to meet the demand we had last year and weren’t able to satisfy for one reason or another … It’s amazing how things have changed in such a short time.”
John McClelland is CEO of Liberty Fruit, a 55-year-old family-owned produce distributor in the Kansas City region. He explains in the Demystifying Wholesale buyer video that a segment of his customers are attached to understanding where their food comes from, who produced it, and how.
“I like having that extra responsibility and that extra opportunity,” he said. “We just see it growing considerably.”
John Edmonds and Austin Reynolds, owners of the Green Thumbs Up farm in Leavenworth, Kansas, also see wholesale opportunity growing for their small farm. They produce cucumbers for wholesale.
“It’s easier to sell things ahead of time … and then you’re not at the farmers’ market every single week,” Edmonds said.
Extra acreage is not necessarily needed to scale up to wholesale volumes, Edmonds added.
“Sometimes all you need is that 30 x 72-foot high tunnel. If you’re managing it correctly, you can be picking 500 pounds of cucumbers every single week, and there is no way you’re going to sell 500 pounds of cucumbers at a small farmer’s market every single week.”
How-To Tour & Manual
Edmonds and Reynolds go on in the video to show viewers what it takes to get that kind of cucumber production out of their high tunnel.
Each video in the Demystifying Wholesale series is a how-to tour of Midwest farms sharing their knowledge and experience. Each covers wholesale production, packing, and marketing strategies for one of seven different crops.
In addition to the free videos, the accompanying manual Demystifying the Wholesale Market is available for free as a PDF at the Kansas State University online bookstore. https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3576.pdf
About the Project
The Beginning Farmer Wholesale Project is a 2018-2022 collaboration among partners West Central Missouri Community Action Agency, Kansas State University, Cultivate KC, The Kansas City Food Hub, University of Missouri, and KC Healthy Kids. The project provides farmer-to-farmer mentorship, on-farm technical assistance, and wholesale market access assistance along with educational resources, such as Demystifying Wholesale materials. The project targets producers with no more than 10 years in operation, both urban and rural, with aspirations to expand in size and/or explore new market channels for their produce. Funding was provided by the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Learn more at http://www.growinggrowers.org/beginning-farmer-wholesale-project.html