HUDSON, N.Y. — Participants in the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation’s (HVADC) Food and Farm Business Accelerator (FFBA) had the opportunity to engage with other FFBA Peers and program facilitators at an industry networking event on January 18 at the American Glory restaurant in Hudson, New York. The six month intensive FFBA program began in October 2016 and is designed to help farmers and food entrepreneurs develop the necessary skills and materials to scale their businesses, build sales and access capital sources.
Nathan Forster, the founder of Groundwork Companies, is FFBA Project Manager, and beyond industry networking, the curriculum includes expert instruction, one-on-one mentoring, peer group sessions, and pitch instruction; and will conclude with an opportunity for FFBA Peers to meet New York City and Hudson Valley-based funders that are seeking to invest in ventures that support the local food system.
Janet Crawshaw, Publisher of Valley Table Magazine and producer of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, set the stage for the networking event, discussing what Hudson Valley visitors and consumers are looking for from local food and agriculture producers.
“Accelerator programs such as FFBA are so important to producers,” said Crawshaw. “I can’t stress the importance of having a program like this in the region which will help the peers build capacity, build scale and meet the contacts they need to advance their businesses.” She continued.
During the evening, FFBA program Peers broke into three groups to discuss the topics of: Tourism, Events and Catering, and Distribution and Wholesale. The Tourism group was led by Mary Kay Vrba, President and CEO of Dutchess Tourism and Lachele Coninx-Wiley, Market Manager for Taste NY at Todd Hill on the Taconic Parkway. The Events and Catering section was led by Shelly Boris and her team from Fresh Company Catering, a Garrison-based, fast-casual restaurant concept tailored to seasonal and organic food for health-seeking New Yorkers. The Distribution and Wholesale group was led by Donna Williams, Founder of Field Goods, a company that offers a subscription-based service delivering produce from small farms to customers at workplaces and community sites year-round.
Nine Hudson Valley farmers and food entrepreneurs are participating in the FFBA program, including: Argyle Cheese Factory LLC (Argyle, NY), Balet Flowers & Design (Malta, NY), Fishkill Farms (Hopewell Junction, NY), The Green Onion LLC (Chester, NY), Lavenlair Farm LLC (Whitehall, NY), Les Collines (Craryville, NY), Raspberry Fields Farm LLC (Marlboro, NY), Minkus Family Farms Inc. (New Hampton, NY) and Soukup Farms (Dover Plains, NY).
“The Accelerator program has given our businesses the opportunity to develop and scale with the guidance of industry experts. The profound value of this will have a ripple effect within our communities and beyond,” according to Sara Higgins, founder, Raspberry Fields Farm.
“Held at the half-way point of the FFBA program curriculum, HVADC’s goal in hosting the networking event was for FFBA Peers to gain valuable context and insight from our seasoned facilitators, on specific industry niches where their businesses already compete or are targeting,” said Mary Ann Johnson, HVADC Projects Director. Throughout the session, facilitators and Peers engaged in proactive thinking, discussing the kind of capital, networking, marketing and tools their business needs most to achieve their goals.
The FFBA program continues through April, and to prepare the FFBA Peers for accessing capital, sessions also include: The Fundamentals of Accessing Capital, Business Planning, Financials and Management: Marketing, and Accessing Capital. Mentoring Leaders Ajax Greene of On Belay Business Advisors and Scott Tillitt of Antidote Collective are participating throughout the program. Further FFBA instructor/mentor and curriculum details may be found at www.hvadc.org.
–Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation