Project Aims To Connect More People With Local Organic Food

As the availability of local and organic foods has exploded in recent years, one of the critiques of the movement is that the cost of these foods can be prohibitive for many families. And its not just the cost of fresh vegetables that can be a deterrent. If you aren’t familiar with working with raw ingredients, the idea of cooking dinner for your family after a long day of work can be daunting. 

A coalition of local community organizations, advocates, and chefs are partnering with one local farm to overcome both of these issues. Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility, Inc. – Southwest Community Center and the Brady Faith Center are using funds provided through “The Empowerment Fund”, a donor advised fund of the CNY Community Foundation, to subsidize the cost of CSA shares from Homer based Main Street Farms. 

CSA, or community supported agriculture, is kind of an alternative market model where you pay for a season’s worth of produce in advance of the season. You buy a share of a farmer’s harvest at the beginning of the growing season, and every week you get a box of freshly picked vegetables. This particular share program is a little different, in that participating families are able to pay for shares every week, instead of in full at the beginning of the season.

Families in the program pay $9 for a box that includes 11 different kinds of organically grown vegetables and herbs. The selection changes every week, depending on what is in season. One of the goals for the future of the program is to be able to accept SNAP benefits from participants to pay for their share. 

The project is modeled after one that Main Street Farms launched last summer in Cortland. The Cortland project is in conjunction with an urban farm plot that Main Street Farms was able to open in the city after a successful crowdfunding campaign. They use the plot to not only grow vegetables for the farm, but also as center for food and farm education in the city. Cornell Cooperative Extension provides cooking demos on CSA pick up days. 

In Syracuse, the program is supported by cooking classes hosted by local Chefs Will Lewis (who also serves as the Director of the Syracuse Community Test Kitchen) and Stephen Landon, who was recently named the 2014 Chef of the Year by the Syracuse chapter of the American Culinary Federation. Every other week they are hosting a class during the CSA pickup in the kitchen of The South West Community Center to teach people how to use the ingredients they received that day.

After over a year of planning and meetings about various different ways to run the program, the project is up and running, with people picking up their first CSA boxes at the beginning of August. The program runs bi-weekly until the end of October, and is full for this season.
If the program is successful, Main Street Farms hopes to find a space to farm in the City of Syracuse, and further their vision of food being grown on Main Street in every city and town across the country.


Lune Chocolat Eyes Expansion in Manlius


Manlius, NY July 31, 2014 

As their third anniversary approaches, Lune Chocolat eyes an expansion in the town of Manlius. Since opening in September 2011, Lune has become a must visit for not only Central New York foodies, but also a destination for tourists from all over the state. Their mouth watering and eye catching chocolates have even created a stir overseas after being part of a “Taste of New York” collection being sold across Europe. 

Their hand crafted chocolates truly are a taste of CNY, inspired by the flavors around them. Next to the Peanut Butter Hedgies and the tea inspired Chai Buddhas, you’ll find an ever changing selection of chocolates crafted with ingredients from local farms and food producers. All of their local buying has led to collaborations with Recess Coffee, the Onondaga Historical Association, Owera Vineyards, 2 Kids Goat Farm, Olive on Brooklea, Nature-Tyme, Mountain Grown Farm, and Kreimhild Butter to name a few. They’ve also been busy providing custom orders for couples planning weddings around the region.

All of this has created quite a tight fit at their current store front and production facility located at 315 Fayette Street, Suite 5. When they opened their doors at the 480 square foot space, owners Mike and Emily Woloszyn were already bumping into each other every now and again in the small kitchen. But as the staff has grown by eight employees, and more and more customers come and go, they have struggled to fill all their orders without standing on each others toes. 

In October of last year, they began to discuss expansion. They have their sights set on a 1600 square foot space in Manlius that would not only provide more production and retail space, but will also allow Lune to expand their product offerings to include super premium gourmet ice cream. Think sweet potato casserole with handmade marshmallow, taro with almond and coconut, and locally grown delicata squash with locally made whiskey. 
“We really hope to expand here in Manlius. The community has supported us from day one, and we’d love to be able to provide them with an even better experience.”, said Mr. Woloszyn. 

Manlius has become a foodie hotspot in recent years with Lune, Sidehill Butchers, and Ironwood joining long time local food businesses Sno-Top Ice Cream and Pavone’s Pizza. 

In order for Lune’s expansion to move forward, the Town Board of Manlius would need to approve a change in zoning for the proposed location. The building is Currently zoned R-M (residential mixed use) which allows for, amongst other things, an office of religion and education, a funeral home, or a bed and breakfast. This zoning does not allow for the preparation of food. The Town Attorney is attempting to rewrite the zone into R-T (residential transitional) to allow food production under the use of a special permit.

The Woloszyns first spoke to and gave a presentation to the Town Board of Manlius on March 26th. It has been reviewed at almost every town board meeting since then. The matter is scheduled to come up for a vote at the August 13th meeting. Meetings are open to the public and residents of the Town of Manlius are encouraged to to attend and voice their opinions about the proposed change. Meetings start at 7 p.m., and are held at the Town of Manlius offices located on Brooklea Drive in Fayetteville.

Lune Chocolat is an artisan chocolate shop in Manlius, NY that opened in 2011. They use only the highest quality ingredients, including many from local and organic sources. Besides their retail store located at 315 Fayette Street, their chocolates can be found around Central New York at the Fayetteville Farmers Market, Recess Coffeehouse, the Syracuse Real Food Co-op, and Natur-tyme. 

For more information on Lune Chocolat, check out their website: www.lunechocolat.com. 


July 23rd at Green Planet Grocery!

Howdy Howdy Tater Tots!

I’m giving a talk on July 23rd at the Green Planet Grocery location in Fairmount. I’ve given a number of talks at GPG, but it’s been a looooong while, and I’m very excited excited to be back. They’ve put together a great event of locally sourced samples. So you’ll be able to get some snacks from some of your favorite local producers like Better Brittle, Primo & Mary’s Salsa, Hunka Foods, 2 Kids Goat Farm, Avocadough, and more! And as always, as part of the Wednesday Night Speaker Series, you’ll get 10% off of your purchases. Samples and discounts! Get into it!!
So, what exactly, am I going to be talking about? Well, I’m going to be trying out some new material. The rough title of the talk is “The Impacts of Immigrant Food Cultures on CNYfood”. This is not going to be a talk about the politics of immigration. If that’s something you’re interested in talking about, I see plenty of lively conversations on the topic in the comment feeds of various news sites. Knock yourself out.

What we are going to talk about is how New Americans have impacted the food culture of Central New York through the years (think Italian-Americans giving us Utica greens and spiedies or Irish-Americans giving us salt potatoes), what groups of people are moving to CNY now, what they’re eating, and where you can eat it, and the future impacts on CNYfood. What’s the next salt potatoes? Pho with a twist of Italian wedding soup? Will Iraqi Sammon bread be the next stretch bread? That sort of thing.

For the first time in 60 years CNY has seen slight population growth, in part because of the number of people moving here from around the world. Immigrant food is a big part of CNYfood’s past, and am even bigger part of it’s future. The sooner we start talking about these foods, the sooner New Americans can feel at home here and start to let their culture take hold

The event is from 6-8, and my talk will begin around 7:00. Hope to see you there!


Recess Coffee Moving to New Commercial Production Facility

Recess Coffee Moving to New Commercial Production Facility

Syracuse, NY May 29, 2014

For the second time in 18 months, Recess Coffeehouse & Bakery is moving their commercial coffee roasting and baking production. The first move was taking their roaster and oven from behind the counter in the their Westcott
neighborhood coffeehouse and moving it to a nondescript old diner building in
East Syracuse. They expected that upgrade to hold them over for 3-5 years, but
the growth of their business has dictated otherwise.

A substantial increase in traffic at their coffeehouse, coupled with a growing wholesale presence on shelves and in cups around the Northeast U.S. has
already pushed their facility to it’s limits. Add in high demand for Recess Mobile, Central New York’s first mobile coffee truck, and old growth plans were scrapped.

In 18 months Recess’s commercial production space has grown from a modest 80 square feet to 900 square feet and now to 3000 square feet. The new facility is located in a warehouse at 114 Boss Rd in Dewitt. Besides providing much needed production, storage, and office space, the new facility will provide a room for cuppings, barista trainings, and other events, but will not have a retail
coffee shop.

It will also house a brand new, custom designed Diedrich roaster that was a year
in the planning. Last year, Recess co-owner and head roaster, Jesse Daino,
traveled to Idaho to tour the Diedrich Factory and to take their prestigious
roasting courses. For the last five years, Recess has roasted all of their fair trade
and organic green beans in a copper barrel roaster that was over 100 years old.
The result was a truly artisanal product, but it had limitations, one of which was
keeping the product consistent when they hired assistant roasters to keep up
with booming demand.

The expansion comes on the heels of a near total renovation of their coffee
house (located at 110 Harvard Place), that includes new custom built furniture
and counters from local furniture designer and maker Zeke Leonard, a new
chalk board sign designed by local artist Cayetano Valenzuela, and a fresh
coat of paint from the owners and their family. The upgrades make it easier to
grab your latte to go, or to find a seat to hang with your friends.

Recess begins moving in to their Boss Rd facility on June 1st and expect to have production up and running by the end of the month. The first public event in the tasting room will be this fall.

Recess Coffeehouse is an artisan coffee house and bakery. All beans are
roasted in-house using only fair trade and organic green beans. They were
founded in 2007. In Syracuse, you can find their beans at their coffeehouse
located at 110 Harvard Place in the Westcott Nation, or on the shelves and in
cups at the Syracuse Real Food Co-op, Stronghearts Cafe, Funk ’N Waffles,
Natur-tyme, Green Planet Grocery, and others. For more information on where

to find Recess Coffee, check out their website: www.recesscoffee.com


3 Years After Our Indiegogo Campaign and Your Contribution is Still Helping Us Grow

Hey Hey Crowdfunders!
Can you believe it's been 3 years since you helped fund our campaign? Which means it's been a good long time since I took a moment to thank you for your support. Thank you. I still look back on this campaign as a pivotal moment in the history of Small Potatoes and I can't thank you enough for making it happen. 
Don't worry, I'm not here to ask for cash again, I just wanted to give everyone an update on what Small Potatoes has been up to. With your support we had a successful market season in New York. In the years since, the business has transitioned away from direct sales and become more focused on giving workshops to up and coming businesses. The two most popular workshops are "Running a Great Farmers Market Booth" and "Crowdfunding Your Project." 
Most of the gear we bought with your contributions is being put to work in the farmers market workshop (as well as odd events and pop up markets here and there), with a few pieces being passed along to Wholeshare buying clubs in Syracuse and Binghamton. I've given the Farmers Market Booth workshop around the state, and for the first time will be taking it on the road this summer to give it in Dallas, TX. 
The crowdfunding workshop has been a hit too. Besides presenting it all over New York, I've given it in Louisiana, Florida, Texas and have it scheduled twice more in Texas when I visit this fall. I've done my best to keep up with campaigns people who have taken the workshop have run, and so far my rough math has them raising $300,000 to start/expand farms, restaurants, and fund a number of other businesses and art projects. Your $3649 in contributions has turned into well over a quarter million dollars in community investment with more to come.  
When I launched the campaign, it was simply because I needed money quickly, and didn't have access to what I needed. But what I found over the course of it, was that as important as the money was, it was all of you championing my cause that ended up being the most valuable part.  In fact, people smarter than me have been writing articles lately about how valuable this part of crowdfunding can be a small companies. 
So thanks again. For funding our project, but also believing in our cause. Your contributions continue to support projects around New York and across the country. 
With Gratitude-


Crowfunding Workshop in Utica


Small Potatoes To Host Workshop on Crowdfunding

Contact Martin Butts

Utica, NY April 21, 2014

As banks have tightened the strings on loans, more and more entrepreneurs are looking for alternatives to fund their business start-ups or expansion. Increasingly, they are turning to crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, where they are able to collect small contributions from family, friends, and strangers in exchange for “perks”. In 2013, businesses and individuals successfully crowdfunded $5 Billion. 

Crowdfunding is part of the White House's Start-Up America initiative and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Inc. Magazine. Done right it not only provides entrepreneurs with funding, but activates their personal network as brand ambassadors.

Attendees at our crowdfunding workshop in Niagara Falls
Participants in this program will learn how to practically manage and promote an online crowdfunding campaign. We'll discuss platforms, developing a promotional plan, building a team, and other aspects of running a successful campaign.

In 2013 Allan Gandelman of Main Street Farms in Homer, NY attended the workshop before running a successful campaign to raise over $10,000 to open an urban farm. "Most people don't realize how much work goes into running a crowdfunding campaign. This workshop prepared us to properly set up and run our campaign by giving us a how to on planning, organizing, timing, and execution of the whole process."

Presenter and TEDxUtica speaker, Martin Butts ran a successful crowdfund campaign to expand his business, Small Potatoes in 2011. Since then, he has presented this session around the country, and previous attendees have combined to successfully crowdfund over $300,000.

May 7, 2014
at thINCucator
106 Genesee Street
Utica, NY 13501

Cost is $25 per person for pre-registration, $35 day of the event.

thINCubator's purpose is to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in collaboration with other educational institutions, existing entrepreneurs, support organizations, government agencies and the community.

You can register for this workshop using Eventbrite or email marty@iamsmallpotatoes.com and write WORKSHOP as the subject for more information. ***PRE-REGISTRATION HAS CLOSED. WALK-INS WELCOME!***

# # #

Martin Butts is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker and the founder of Small Potatoes, a boutique consulting, marketing, and advocacy firm that specializes in working with small scale and start-up food businesses.


Where are you getting your CSA share this year? I'm getting mine at....

It’s the time of year where my inboxes get peppered with one familiar question. Where should I get my CSA from this summer? For those of you who aren’t asking that question because you aren’t totally sure what a CSA is, let me start with a little primer. 

Community Supported Agriculture is kind of an alternative market model where you pay for a season’s worth of produce in advance of the season. You buy a share of a farmer’s harvest at the beginning growing season, and every week you get a box freshly picked veggies. It’s like investing in a business and your dividends are paid out in vegetables. The farmers gets money when they’re investing the most into the years harvest, and consumers get fresh healthy for every week. Fun fact? There’s twice as many CSA programs in the country as farmers markets. It’s kind of a big deal. 

A couple of years back, I helped NOFA-NY promote CSA around the state and I got to see first hand what an amazing and diverse collection of CSA programs New York offers. And there’s a ton of things to weigh when you choose which one’s best for you. Price. Convenience of pick up. Is it organic? Are add-ons available? Are small shares available? The truth is, if you buy into a CSA program this year, you’re going to win. You’ll get great food and support local farms.

What if you could also support a new farm to university buying initiative, cutting edge technology, and that teaches kids about farming, science, and a bunch of other stuff? As you’ve already cleverly put together, that’s a what if question where I reply with, BUT YOU CAN!  By getting your CSA from Main Street Farms. 

First, you should know, that Main Street Farms is good at the regular stuff. They grow all their plants from their certified organic plant nursery, and use organic practices in all the plots they farm. They deliver to your favorite local coffee shop, Recess Coffee, which is super convenient. And if it’s not really that convenient for you, and you live in the City of Syracuse, it’s a really small minimum number of shares to arrange for a pick up at your office, church, or neighbor's house. (Drop me a line at marty@iamsmallpotatoes.com if you want to know more about being a pick up location). They offer 2 size shares for $18 a week for the small share ($396 total for the season) or $23 a week for a large share ($506 for the season).

Your investment in their farm, while returning great delicious organic veggie dividends to you, supports MSF’s other projects. Let’s take a look at some of things your investment supports. 

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know these folks pretty well, and their vision of the transformative nature of the food system is inspiring. You can support their vision, while getting your hands on some of the finest veggies growing in our region. To get more information or to sign up, check out their website


Why Be a Foodpreneur?

  1. It's a great way to meet interesting people
  2. You get to feed people.
  3. When people say "Like a boss", you'll totally get it. 
  4. You get to be part of people's holiday celebrations.
  5. You get to eat great stuff all the time.
  6. It's really is fun.
  7. You can set your own schedule.
  8. Food makes people smile, and making people smile feels awesome.
  9. People will think you are cooler than you actually are.
  10. You get to support, and be supported by, your community.
Wanna hear more great reasons? Ask the next farmer, candy maker, pickleteer, butcher, coffee roaster, pasta slinger, chocolatier, food trucker, baker, chef, buying club club coordinator, coffee roaster, beer brewer, or cheesemaker why they love being a foodpreneur. 

Wanna learn how you can do it too? Take our workshop


Martin Butts & Small Potatoes Hosting Workshops On Running a Food Business


Contact Person: Martin Butts

TEDxUtica speaker Martin Butts, To Host Food Product Company Bootcamp

Utica, NY February 24, 2014 

In the last 5 years in New York State, hundreds of food microenterprises have launched. Some from farms trying to extend their season by selling value added products, others from home kitchens or shared use facilities. Food hubs are being developed around the state, and more and more people are jumping into the soup. And because of the multiplier effect of local food, local food economies across the country are catalyzing measurable growth in their respective communities through their burgeoning food systems.

On March 22nd, TEDxUtica speaker Martin Butts returns to Utica to present a workshop series about launching and growing a food business. Three workshops in one day. Participants can sign up to take individual workshops or sign up for all three and get a discount. The first session is the ABC's of Starting a Food Product Company, followed by Running a Great Farmers Market Booth, and lastly Getting On and Staying On the Shelf. 

For full program descriptions and schedule visit the event description on the Small Potatoes Blog.

March 22, 2014

9:00am - 4:00pm at thINCubator 
                                   106 Genesee Street 
                                   Utica, NY 13501

Participants can sign up to take individual workshops for $25 if you pre-register or sign up for all three, $55 for preregistering. Price increases day of the event. Cost for full day registration includes lunch. In order to give priority to people interested in attending all three sessions, full day registration is open, and individual workshops go on sale March 1st.

You can register for this workshop using Eventbrite:  http://tinyurl.com/foodpreneur or for more information, email marty@iamsmallpotatoes.com and write WORKSHOP as the subject.

These workshops are geared towards people looking to launch a new food enterprise, farmers looking to make new value added products, and any food producer selling food at farmers markets, wholesale, or through other marketplaces. 

Diane Eggert, owner of Cobblestone Creek Farm in Syracuse, NY, and the Executive Director of The Farmers Market Federation of NY has attended many of Butts’s past workshops, and says “Martin’s workshops are packed with information, full of common sense examples and sprinkled with humor to make his points come to life. I’ve left every one of his workshops full of enthusiasm to implement his ideas into my own business.” 

The workshops are being hosted at the newly opened thINCubator (short for “the home for Innovative New Companies”). thINCubator's purpose is to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in collaboration with other educational institutions, existing entrepreneurs, support organizations, government agencies and the community. 

It is presented with the generous support of the Oneida County Public Market and the Mohawk Valley Small Business Development Center


Martin Butts is a local food advocate, entrepreneur, writer, and the owner of Small Potatoes, a boutique marketing and consulting firm that specializes in working with food businesses of all kinds. He previously served as the Director of Syracuse University’s Community Test Kitchen, working with aspiring foodpreneurs to help them turn their product ideas into businesses, and as the Community Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York. 


March 22nd thINCubator Workshop Series Descriptions & Schedule

Our upcoming Food Company Bootcamp at thINCubator in Utica on March 22nd breaks up into 3 sessions.

Registration for full day tickets opens February 18th and are $55 if you pre-register and $75 the day of the event.

Individual workshops go on sale March 1st, $25 to pre-register, $35 day of the event.

Workshop descriptions are below. Register for the event by clicking here.

FIRST SESSION 9:00am-10:30am
The ABC’s of Starting a Food Product Business

WORKSHOP SYNOPSIS:    This workshop would give a potential
entrepreneur an overview of the process of turning their home
recipe into a commercial food product business. This is a basic
workshop for entrepreneurs looking to start a food product business,
for entrepreneurs looking to grow from a home based business to a
commercial business, or for entrepreneurs looking to start a
commercial scale food business. We will cover commercialization,
packaging, labeling, pricing strategies, production, distribution, and

IS THIS WORKSHOP FOR YOU?     This workshop is geared towards students interested in starting a food product company. Great for people looking to start a food product business or farmers looking to develop a value added product.

SECOND SESSION 11:00am-1:00pm
Running a Great Farmer's Market Booth 

Farmers Markets are the great business incubator in the food system. Many markets are no longer limited to just farm fresh product and offer a great opportunity to test market products and get real time feed back about the product, while the producer is able to keep the full retail price. A well run farmers market booth can not only provide weekly income, but serve as a platform to launch your product into a larger marketplace. Done right, a farmers market booth can be low-risk and high reward.

Attendees will learn to put together a low budget farmers market
display by first being shown good techniques, and then through
hands on exercises. We also cover great customer service and selling
techniques that help you get to know your customer, your product,
and your potential market. Other topics covered will include
capturing wholesale accounts at the market and how to message
your brand in the marketplace.

This workshop is useful to both food producers new to working at farmers markets, and those who have been selling to at markets for years. It works for farmers, as well as value added producers. Essentially any kind of business that would be selling at a farmers market.

THIRD SESSION   1:45pm-3:30
Selling Your Small Scale Food Product  

WORKSHOP SYNOPSIS: The food economy used to to revolve around
on grocery stores, distributors, and slotting fees. That is no longer the
case. There is a thriving new food economy that focuses on
alternative marketplaces. This program is designed to help new food
product companies come up with a plan to get started selling their
product. The focus is on breaking into the marketplace and
positioning the company for long term, sustainable growth.
Participants in this program will learn how to successfully sell a new
food product direct to consumers as well as through retailers. This
program covers what a retailer expects from a vendor, what the big
name competition does to get into stores, and what a small scale
company can do to compete.

IS THIS WORKSHOP FOR YOU? This workshop is useful to
foodpreneurs looking to launch a new business, as well as
entrepreneurs with an existing business. It is geared to people who
looking to establish their product in the marketplace.