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.


Main Street Farms Opening a Second Farm In Cortland


Contact Person: Allan Gandelman



Main Street Farms Looking For Community Support of their Expansion into Cortland

Homer, NY June 24, 2013 

Main Street Farms began in 2010 around a simple idea. That communities small and large could find ways to feed themselves by growing food on "Main Street" and by teaching people how to grow their own, cook their own, and support their community in doing it.

Their first farm, located in Homer, NY is one of the most forward thinking farms in the region and has grown quickly since it's launch. They grow lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, and other veggies in greenhouses, using aquaponics tanks that raise fish, and use the water to fertilizer their crops. 

Their new farm in Cortland takes a more traditional approach to farming and puts the plants in the ground. But by no means is this your average farm. This farm isn't located in a bucolic valley surrounded by rolling hills. It's a farm located right in the heart of the City of Cortland. In a neighborhood that garners more news about methamphetamine production than food production, they will be opening Cortland's first sustainable urban farm. 

"We think growing food is as much about nourishing our community as it is about nourishing our bodies. We want to help improve Cortland, literally from the ground up." says Allan Gandelman, Main Street Farms founder and CEO. 

At the planned one and a half acre farm, Main Street Farms will have an on-site farm stand, a low-income community supported agriculture program, a teaching kitchen, and educational programming. 

So far MSF has gathered the support of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Seven Valley Health Coalition, Sustainable Cortland, Cortland County Community Action Program (CAPCO) and several local schools. Much of the expense of starting the farm will come from Main Street Farms own funds, as well as grants, but the amount is a little bit short of their total need. 

In order to raise the difference, they are turning to the very community they are looking to support, by raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter, and other crowdfunding sites allow entrepreneurs, artists, and anyone with an idea, get funding through small contributions from family, friends, and strangers. Contributors are rewarded with "perks", similar to the PBS telethon. For Main Street Farms' campaign, contributors are rewarded with fresh veggies, fish, music downloads, private locally sourced dinner, and more. 

In 2012, projects around the globe raised nearly $5 billion in this manner. Main Street Farms goal is a more modest $10,000. The money raised will be used to pay for an electrician and a plumber to hook up electrical and water lines, drip irrigation for the whole farm, hand tools, wheelbarrows, seeders, fertilizer, and more.

To learn more about Main Street Farms and their new farm coming to Cortland, check out 

# # #

Main Street Farms is an urban aquaponics farm, organic plant nursery, and education center in Homer NY, devoted to sustainable agriculture and local food security. They are a 2013 winner of the Slow Food CNY Snail of Approval award for providing safe, clean, and fair food. 


The New Economy Summit

You may have seen me mention recently that I'm giving a workshop about crowdfunding tonight at the South Side Innovation Center. I do tend to go on about such things. It's just an exciting topic. Crowdfunding is one of many things about the new economy that I get excited about. 

Crowdfunding is a simple idea to help people achieve their goals by sharing with them what you can. Having the crowd help you fund your goal. The idea of sharing like this plays a powerful role in the new economy. Sharing funds. Sharing ideas. Sharing resources. And sharing knowledge and insight. For me and a lot of other people, it started with sharing food. 

In communities, the new economy begins with the organizations that share. Organizations like Syracuse First (and the 80 other BALLE Local First campaigns across the country). Folks like the SSIC, Small Business Development Center, The Tech Garden, and Northside Up.  Its about shared use offices, studios, and kitchens. Using crowdfunding and microgrants to launch and grow businesses, get public art produced, and empower communities to find ways to feed themselves.

It's about trade that is fair, and based on direct relationships. It's cooperatively owned businesses and credit unions. It's about celebrating our history, while reimagining our future

For more and more people the the new economy is about food banks and community gardens.

It's also about farmers markets, community supported agriculture programs, food hubs, and permaculture. Farm to restaurant, farm to school, and farm to hospital. Pop-up dinners and pop-up markets. I like to think it's about Small Potatoes. 

And it's about sharing all these things with your friends and families. Neighbors and colleagues. And over the next week you'll have two great chances to do just that. 

On May 22 Syracuse First is hosting The New Economy sponsored by AmeriCU (my credit union for nearly 20 years, in case you were wondering), in order to "bring together a group of current and future community and business leaders, Local First advocates, and well-known economic development experts to develop solutions for a stronger local economy." Well that sounds like just the sort thing you want to do. Plus Judy Wicks is going to be there, which, you might not know yet, is reason enough to go. 

I'll be there leading a break out session about entrepreneurship with Mitch Patterson and Seth Mulligan from CenterSate CEO, where I'll be talking about the role of foodpreneurship in long term economic stability and community cultural change. 


Your other chance is TODAY at my crowdfunding workshop, which you can register for here


We Want The Funk

I travel, what I would consider, a lot for work. Usually I’d say I get to travel for work. I like to get miles and miles and miles and miles. Just give me some SPACE! I list travel as a perk of the job. But the dudes in local funk & hip hop band Sophistafunk gobble up some miles, to the tune of almost 100,000 miles a year. Which means two things. 

They are working really hard for the opportunity to fill rooms with beats in order to make you, and every single person around you, shake their respective aaaaaasssssssssss (which they absolutely will do.) It means lots of long days after late nights and lots of sitting in a van, which ain’t so great on your body. 
Managing a life from the road can be tough too. Despite all that, when they play, the only people in the room smiling more than those folks attached to those shaking asses, is the dudes in Sophistafunk.

The other thing is that they are burning some gaaaaaaassss to move that ass. But what’s a band to do? Teleportation appears to still be years away. Some of you might say, you’ve gotta walk. But your ass is California. And your ass is in Maine. And your ass is in Virginia. And between here and there, there is countless asses achin’ for a shakin’. So you take a ride. And if you’re Sophistafunk, you convert the van to run on grease

Sophistafunk has been getting some serious love these days, including a great interview with the Village Voice. Unfortunately, mechanics rarely ever expect love as payment for converting your van to biodiesel. So to come up with the loot, they're running a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo. But they're not  just stopping at converting the van. They're also looking to raise funds to put out a new album and go on tour in the UK. 

They've got some great perks like your own Sophistafunk concert or going on tour with band. Can't swing the big ticket items, how about just pre-buying their new album for $10? $25 will getcha the vinyl. My personal favorite is the Coupon book for 10 orders of chicken & waffles at Funk 'n Waffles. You get 10 amazing local, organic meals, and they get some grease to run the van. It's like crowdsourcing fuel. 



Contact Person: Martin Butts

Small Potatoes To Host Workshop on Crowdfunding

Syracuse, NY May 3, 2013 

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 2012, businesses and individuals successfully crowdfunded $2.7 Billion, and that number is expected to grow to over $5 Billon for 2013. 

Crowdfunding is now 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. 

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.

Martin Butts & Small Potatoes, recent winners of a Slow Food CNY Snail of Approval ran a successful crowdfund campaign in 2011.  

May 15, 2013

6:00-9:00pm at the South Side Innovation Center 
                      2610 South Salina Street
                      Syracuse, NY 13205

Cost is $20 per person. 

The workshop begins at 6, and will be followed by a mixer where attendees will be able to meet and talk with local people who have crowdfunded business start-ups and expansions, public art projects, and other ventures.

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

This workshop is being run with the help of Syracuse First as well as the South Side Innovation Center. 

The SouthSide Innovation Center is a project of the Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management. They provide services and facilities to current and emerging entrepreneurs. SSIC’s mission is to increase the strength and size of the area economy by helping a diverse group of emerging and mature businesses reach their potential size and profitability.

Syracuse First is a not for profit network of locally owned, independent  businesses and organizations dedicated to building a sustainable community by encouraging citizens to "Think Local First".


Taking it Slow

Thank you so much to Slow Food CNY for dropping a Snail of Approval on Small Potatoes. It's a great honor, and I can't begin to say how much it means to me. Especially to be recognized with the all other deserving businesses that are being awarded Snails today.

Since I started Small Potatoes in 2009, Slow Food CNY has been an eager and committed partner on some of my favorite projects. If it was ambitious, impactful, and on a short (most would use the word "unrealistic") deadline, I've known I could count on SFCNY to jump in with both feet to make it happen despite any obstacles.

I've always said that the success of Small Potatoes is judged by the success of the businesses and projects I work with. Without many of the people gathering in the room today to share food and celebrate some of our region's most committed advocates and foodpreneurs, there simply wouldn't be Small Potatoes. Any recognition of my work as Small Potatoes is recognition of the diverse, thriving, and rapidly growing food culture here in Central New York. What happens in our region is as cutting edge and forward thinking as anywhere I've been. I'm proud to be a small part of it.

A heartfelt thank you to each of you, and a sincere apology that I am unable to attend the event and receive my snail along with the other honorees. I'm grateful everyday to be in a position to do work that I love with people I care about. I'm so glad to hear other people appreciate that work too. Thanks again.


A Day in the Life of a Locally Spent Dollar

Unless you've been under a rock somewhere, you've probably heard us, and many of our cohorts, preaching the power of buying local. A 10% shift gets increases in tax income for the region, creates new jobs, not to mention gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. I've been walking this talk for a while now, but sometimes I'm still struck at the power of single transactions. Let me take you on a trip with a local dollar. 

Earlier in the month (Buy Local Month here in CNY), I picked up a check for services I provided to Om Boys. I delivered this check to Breakher Designs, my partner on the Om Boys project. Kimberly at Breakher in turn cut me a check for my percentage of the project payment. I in turn cut a check back to Breakher for design services provided to me. Then I took a wander over to Recess Coffee to write them a check for an order placed for the Binghamton Food Conspiracy Buying Club. While I was there I took an order (and collected a payment) for Better Brittle, and placed an order for coffee for Funk 'n Waffles (which also placed an order for Better Brittle). From there, I headed over the Empire Brewing Company for a pint. 

By my count thats 8 local businesses  sharing the dollars generated by buying juice at a local joint. And thats just the travels that dollar makes as passing through Small Potatoes. That's not taking into account the other local service providers used by Om Boys, Recess, Empire, etc. to get their product out into the world. 

Everywhere that dollar travelled, it deposited a few cents into each of these locally owned businesses, which they in turn spent at other local businesses. And it's just that simple. When you spend money in businesses based in your community, the money stays in your community. 

This transaction started with a consumer buying a juice at Om Boys. What happens, say, if that consumer had bought a Naked brand juice at Wegmans. By all accounts, Wegmans is a model company. They take care of their employees, source local food, promote organic, and contribute to many organizations working to improve our community. Wegmans would keep some of those $$'s in the community. But, they'd also pay a significant % of the sale price (in the neighborhood of 60%) to a distibutor outside of our community, who would then in turn pay Naked, which is owned by Pepsi. 

How does Pepsi spend their money? Part goes towards the CEO's bonus, which was $2.5 million in 2011. Part of it also goes towards fighting against labeling genetically modified foods. In short, the money leaves the community, contributes to wealthy people getting wealthier, and funds activities most people wouldn't knowingly contribute to. 

But this isn't a story about what happens when money leaves our community. It's a story about what happens when money stays in our community. It's a story of economic empowerment and independence from corporate interests. Today is the kickoff of the annual Great American Shopping Spree, with Black Friday serving as the starting gun. But for those of us working hard to improve our communities, it marks an opportunity to put our money where our mouth is. To reclaim our dollars for our community. Black Friday got you down? Give Plaid Friday a try, and see what it can do for you.