Rural Vitality names next class of entrepreneurs


The Institute for Rural Vitality at SUNY Cobleskill and the Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship (CADE) have named the second cohort of entrepreneur participants of SUNY Cobleskill’s USDA-funded Farm and Food Business Accelerator.
Over the next 18 months, through access to strategic support services and professional facilities, Accelerator participants will launch new value-added products to the regional marketplace and capitalize on a collective $500,000 investment into product development and business growth.
Participants are 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.
The second cohort consists of the following growers and producers:
* Empty Pockets Ranch – Cobleskill.
* King Creek Farms – Delanson.
* Old Homestead Farm – Richfield Springs.
* Lovin’ Mama Farm – Amsterdam.
* Van-Dale Farms – Central Bridge.
* Broadwell Dairy – Carlisle.
The first Accelerator cohort consisted of nine participants and launched in December 2021.
Since then, 21 new products have been introduced to the local farm-to-table market.
“Through the success of our first cohort, we have proof of concept of the transformative potential of this Accelerator program, and its ability to create positive impact for small business on an individual scale, and on a larger scale, the entire regional food system,” said Scott Ferguson, executive director of the Institute for Rural Vitality at SUNY Cobleskill.
“The members of this next cohort show the same promise, and we are excited to get underway and once again expand our reach and capabilities by working together and sharing resources.”
Participants receive access to a complete suite of services and resources from SUNY Cobleskill and CADE, tailored to each’s specific needs.
Services include support with new product development from food science experts, 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.
Cohort members also have access to SUNY Cobleskill’s on-campus, shared-use facilities, which include a dairy processing center, USDA-inspected meat processing facility, commercial kitchens, packaging equipment, and use of the Carriage House Cafe? & General Store for conducting retail pilots and market research.
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 grant funds 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.