Friday, January 26, 2018

Planning for Wholesale Success

Karla Salp

When the weather turns cold and inhospitable, farmers don’t just put their feet up and relax. Winter is often the time for paperwork, planning and the ongoing learning necessary for success in any profession.

Wholesale Success workshop prepares participants
to answer important questions about their products.
This week, several farmers operating small family farms crowded together in a classroom at Clark College in Vancouver for training on getting into the wholesale market.

The training, Wholesale Success: A Farmer’s Guide to Food Safety, Selling, Postharvest Handling, and Packaging Produce, was sponsored by WSDA. The training itself was created by the non-profit organization, Family Farmed, with support from USDA and many others.

The daylong training covered many topics of interest to farmers, including:

  • Market analysis – Learning what the customers value
  • Promoting your farm brand – Differentiating yourself from other producers
  • Pricing – Cost of production and efficiency 
  • Doing business – Communications/Contracts, risk management, post-harvest grading and packing
  • An overview of additional local resources

The agenda for the day was packed, but the training gave farmers an overview of considerations when getting into the wholesale market. The training also provided numerous worksheets that farmers could utilize during and after the class.

Participants discussed their own farm operations and
provided feedback and insights to each other.
Networking proved to be one of the most valuable parts of the training as the farmers shared best practices and new ideas. Hearing what was working for others – especially in the local area – was something one can’t obtain from reading the workbook alone.

At the end of the day, participants left with many new ideas on how to improve their operations and expand into wholesale markets. They also left with a hefty, 300+ page full-color manual with loads of additional information, including numerous crop profiles with harvest, handling/packaging, storage and pest/disease management information.

This opportunity can provide valuable information to anyone considering getting into farming or looking to expand his or her operation. Many of the concepts can be applied to direct-to-consumer marketing as well as wholesale markets.

WSDA provides these trainings regularly and the $15 registration fee includes lunch and the full-color manual.

There is currently one more Wholesale Success workshop scheduled in Walla Walla in February. Visit WSDA’s Small Farms page at for more information about Wholesale Success and other resources for Washington farmers.