First Cohort Joins the Farm and Food Business Accelerator

U.S. Department of Agriculture support and access to resources and facilities to spur product development and business growth

The Institute for Rural Vitality at SUNY Cobleskill and the Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship (CADE) are proud to announce the first cohort of entrepreneurs to become members of the Farm and Food Business Accelerator. Over the next 18 months, through access to strategic support services and professional facilities, the Accelerator’s goal is to launch 12 new value-added products, increase baseline revenues by 25%, and realize a collective $500,000 investment into product development and business growth.

Participants in the Accelerator cohort have been selected based on their potential for growth and impact on the local farm and food sector. Each has been carefully vetted to ensure they will have economic impact in the Mohawk Valley region.

Dr. S. Scott Ferguson, executive director of the Institute for Rural Vitality, and Phoebe Schreiner, executive director of CADE, announce the first members of the Accelerator:

  • Bee Hollow Farm & Apiary, Schodack Landing, N.Y.
  • Black Yard Farm, Sloansville, N.Y.
  • Buhrmaster Farms, Glenville, N.Y.
  • Clover Bliss Farm, South New Berlin, N.Y.
  • Collins Farm and Creamery, Rome, N.Y.
  • Cowbella, Jefferson, N.Y.
  • New York Farm Basket, Munnsville, N.Y.
  • Sleeping Lion Farm, Springfield Center, N.Y.
  • Turner Farm, Ilion, N.Y.
  • Windcrest Farm, Cobleskill, N.Y.

The Farm and Food Business Accelerator is made possible through a $741,271 grant from the USDA Agriculture Innovation Center, and was one of just three centers funded in 2020 by the USDA, nationwide. Through additional funding from other sources, the program represents a total investment of $1,121,002. The project will fund resources specifically earmarked for cohort members, as well as dedicated staff at SUNY Cobleskill and CADE to address identified needs of farm and food entrepreneurs in the Mohawk Valley, Central New York, and Southern Tier regions.

Cohort members will receive a complete suite of services and resources tailored to their specific needs from SUNY Cobleskill and CADE. These include support with new product development from a food science expert, completion of a scheduled process from the Cornell Food Venture Center, technical support on marketing strategy, legal and financial advisory services, and outreach

assistance to develop a network of distributors, retailers and wholesalers, institutions and restaurants, in the Mohawk Valley and beyond.

New and existing facilities operated by the Institute for Rural Vitality on the SUNY Cobleskill campus, and now available to Accelerator members include:

  • The Dairy Processing Center
  • The USDA-Inspected Meat Processing Facility
  • Commercial Kitchens
  • Schoharie Fresh Online Farmer’s Market
  • Carriage House Café & General Store for conducting retail pilots and market research
  • Packaging equipment

“The tremendous interest this program has received from producers throughout our region reflects the collaborative essence of agriculture in our area,” said Dr. S. Scott Ferguson, executive director of the Institute for Rural Vitality. “Sharing resources and learning from one another will ultimately reward not just the entrepreneurs, faculty, and students involved in the Accelerator, but consumers in the Mohawk Valley who value quality sustainable products. The partnerships created through the program will help ensure the continued diversity and expansion of our state’s agricultural community.”

“The Accelerator is further expanding the boundaries of what’s possible through regional cooperation in agriculture, an idea that gets to the heart of what agriculture itself represents,” said Phoebe Schreiner, executive director of CADE. “Each member of this program shares the aspiration to create a more viable and vibrant food system in the Mohawk Valley. By working together over these next several months, our members will come away with strategies and product development techniques that may have a generational impact on our agricultural market.”