Knowledge Base: For Sellers Tools, resources and thought leadership in regional food

For Sellers

Access information about certifications and best practices for marketing and distributing your products, as well as industry organizations, farmland preservation, and much more.

Direct Marketing

  • Selling Strategies for Local Food Producers

    Published by University of Missouri Extension, this guide outlines strategies to assist farmers in selling their produce in a variety of direct market settings such as farmer’s markets and CSAs, and to restaurants, cooperatives, and institutions. (1.6 MB PDF)

  • Small Farm and Direct Marketing Handbook

    The Washington State Department of Agriculture publishes "The Green Book" to help beginning, established and/or transitioning farmers understand the rules and regulations for direct marketing an endless range of food, flower, seed and nursery products in Washington State, however much of the guidance is useful for farmers throughout the FoodHub region.

  • Northwest Direct: Improving Markets for Small Farms

    Northwest Direct is a collaborative effort to understand, evaluate and improve direct marketing opportunities for small farms. Project partners include land grant universities, government agencies, non-profits, and farmers across Washington, Oregon and Idaho. These farm case studies were developed to provide in-depth information about the direct and semi-direct marketing opportunities that exist for farmers (some of whom are FoodHub Members!) within their regional food system and how these opportunities are captured by a diverse set of successful producers. (0 B HTML)

  • Direct Marketing Guide

    This publication on direct marketing alternatives - with emphasis on niche, specialty and value-added crops - features many farm case studies, as well as information on enterprise budgets and promotion/publicity. A new section discusses implications of Internet marketing and e-commerce for agriculture. (698.1 KB PDF)

  • Pricing for Profit

    The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center article explains how to price your products to bring you the best profit when direct marketing. (0 B CFM)

  • Direct Marketing Budgeting Tool

    Use this calculator to help you to choose the most profitable direct marketing methods for your business, as well as estimate and compare the returns from selling your produce through CSAs, institutional sales, and farmers markets. (78.5 KB XLS)

  • Fishermen's Direct Marketing Manual

    If you're a commercial fisherman and thinking of marketing your own catch, the Fishermen's Direct Marketing Manual is for you. This free publication is packed with lots of advice and suggestions on the pros and cons of direct marketing. Chapters address strategies for distributing seafood, finding domestic and international customers for the catch, packaging and shipping seafood products, the basics of business planning, and other important topics. (0 B PDF)

  • Ready To Grow: A Plan for Increasing Illinois Fruit and Vegetable Production reports on their 2009 study that explored the barriers that growers face when attempting to access wholesale markets. Recommendations for actions that address barriers to scaling up are presented together with the feasibility of developing a packing house that connects specialty crop growers with wholesalers. (0 B 0/GETFILE?DDOCNAME=STELPRDC5097192)

  • Marketing Alternatives for Fresh Produce

    Along with providing an overview of marketing opportunities for fresh produce growers in the Pacific Northwest, this publication introduces growers to buyer's requirements and the how to's of wholesale marketing. (0 B PDF)

  • Link to familyfarmed site on wholesaling technical assistance's definitive training source on selling into wholesale markets, including topics such as: Calculating Return on Investment; Cleaning, Drying, and Curing Produce; Traceability; Packing Shed Design; and Maintaining the Cold Chain.

  • In the Market for Success: A Resource for Determining the Opportunites and Pitfalls of Cooperative Marketing Arrangements For Small-Scale Vegetable Farms

    This document investigates cooperative marketing as a means to expand marketing opportunities beyond direct to consumer models. (0 B PDF)


    Farmers' Markets

    Food Hubs

    • Background on Regional Food Hubs

      Many food producers are challenged by the lack of adequate distribution and processing infrastructure that would give them needed access to new markets. This white paper by James Barham, Agricultural Economist at the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service explains how regional food hubs can greatly support these producers, and to encourage smaller farmers to scale up their operations. (265.8 KB PDF)

    • Food Hubs: Viable Regional Distribution Solutions

      Food hubs, or regional food aggregation and coordination facilities, offer great promise for systemic social and environmental change. This webinar focuses on key elements of successful food hubs provides a clear illustration of the variety of models that exist, and the outcomes they offer.

    • U.S. Food Hubs

      This resource from the Good Food Network is a database of food hubs listed by state. Most entries are linked to a website for more information.

    • Leveraging Existing Infrastructure

      In this webinar, Karen Karp of Karp Resources provides illustrative examples of the ways in she has worked collaboratively with her clients to overcome some of the barriers to food system change at scale. (0 B ORG/RESOURCES/NGFN-CLUSTER-CALLS/LEVERAGING-EXISTING-INFRASTRUCTURE/LEVERAGING-EXISTING-INFRASTRUCTURE-FOR-SIGNIFICANT-FOOD-SYSTEM-CHANGE-FOOD-HUBS-REGIONAL-DISTRIBUTION-FARM-TO-SCHOOL-AND-MORE)

    • Food Hubs and Values-Based Supply Chains: A Toolkit for California Farmers

      This report describes how scale and ownership are two important factors to be considered when evaluating a any values based supply chain enterprise. Considerations and benefits of various models are discussed. A set of questions that growers may wish to ask before doing business with a VBSC enterprise are included. (0 B PDF)

    • Regional Food Hub Resource Guide

      This USDA guide defines food hubs, discusses the impacts that food hubs have, and identfies barriers faced in the development of food hubs together with resources to overcome barriers. (0 B 0/GETFILE?DDOCNAME=STELPRDC5097957)

    • The Role of Food Hubs in Local Food Marketing

      This USDA report defines food hubs and explains the various functions and structures that these models might take. Constraints and regulations are also identified. (0 B PDF)

    • Building Successful Food Hubs: A Planning Guide for Aggregating and Processing Local Food in Illinois

      A guide to the business development process for the aspiring local food aggregation or processing enterprise. (0 B PDF)

    Selling to Schools & Institutions

    • Marketing Guide to Getting Started with Farm to Cafeteria Programs

      The WSDA's Small Farm and Direct Marketing Program published this useful marketing guide for getting started with Farm to Cafeteria programs. In addition to selling strategies and marketing recommendations for farmers, it outlines types of food service models and provides tips on initiating contact with schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, nursing homes, senior meal programs, and other institutions. (2.9 MB PDF)

    • Step-by-Step Marketing Guide for Selling to Schools

      Produced for the Michigan Farm to School program at Michigan State University, this step-by-step guide is useful for all farmers wanting to sell their produce to schools as well as other institutions. (4.3 MB PDF)

    • Nuevos Mercados Para Su Cosecha/New Ways to Sell What you Grow

      Una publicación para los agricultores hispano hablantes vender sus productos a instituciones; información sobre organizaciones que ayudan a agricultores Latinos. This resource for Spanish-speaking farmers provides information and purchasing guidelines to help farmers sell excess produce in a number of institutional settings. Produced by Community Food Security Coalition, National Center for Appropriate Technology, and National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, printed copies can be ordered by calling 1-800-ASK-NCAT. An audio copy may be downloaded from: (1 MB PDF)

    • Farmer’s Guide to Hosting Farm Visits for Children

      A how-to guide to help farmers facilitate farm field trips for children, produced by the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. Includes suggestions for planning the trip, age-appropriate activities for children, group management, and safety considerations.

    • Selling Directly to Institutions

      This excerpt from the WSDA's Green Book provides excellent guidance on selling directly to institutions. If you're considering selling to schools, universities, child-care centers, hospitals or other institutions, start here. (99.7 KB PDF)

    Industry Organizations


      • USA Pears
      • Alaska Diversified Livestock Association
      • Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission
      • Alaska Department of Agriculture Marketing Services

        The Alaska Department of Agriculture Marketing Services provides marketing and production expertise to Alaska growers by increasing their ability to market Alaska Grown products and maintain viable farms. Some of the division's marketing programs include: the Alaska Grown program, the Alaska Food & Farm Products Directory, a Cooperative Marketing Program that provides matching funds to assist in making Alaska Grown products more visible to the public.

      • University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service



      • USA Pears
      • Idaho Apple Commission
      • Idaho Cattle Commission
      • Idaho Bean Commission
      • Idaho Potato Commission
      • Idaho Grain Producers Association
      • Idaho Mint Commission
      • Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission
      • Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Commission
      • Selling Directly to Restaurants and Grocery Stores

        This excerpt from the WSDA's Green Book provides excellent guidance on selling directly to restaurants and grocers. If you're considering selling to either of these groups, start here.

      • Idaho Department of Agriculture Marketing Information

        Idaho Department of Agricultural Marketing Information is a public resource providing marketing assistance to Idaho's food and agriculture industry by promoting agriculture goods and services and establishing domestic and foreign markets.

      • University of Idaho Extension





      • National Business Incubation Association

        The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) advances business incubation and entrepreneurship through providing information, education, advocacy and networking resources to early-stage companies.

      Business Management

      • Developing Your Farm's Marketing Plan

        While there are examples of “If you grow it, they will come,” most farmers have to do some research to determine the who, what, where, when and why of marketing. As important as it is to understand who your potential customer is, it is just as important to get to know your competition. A marketing plan is an integral part of developing a business plan.While a business plan is important to guide the direction of the business, it is also a key component in seeking out and successfully receiving loans from lending institutions. (0 B PDF)

      • Gracious & Ruthless: Surprising Strategies for Business Success

        Authored by Susan Sokol-Blosser of Sokol-Blosser winery, this compact book is packed with practical advice from someone who has lived the challenges of running a business and not only survived, but thrived.

      • Fearless Farm Finances: Farm Financial Management Demystified

        The Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service "MOSES received funding from the the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to develop resources on farm financial management for new and beginning sustainable farmers. The result is this easy-to-use resource book, Fearless Farm Finances."

      • Growing For Market

        A trade publication for local food producers with frequent articles about the business side of farming.

      • Grower to grower: Creating a livelihood on a fresh market vegetable farm

        Findings from a participatory, farmer-led case study exploring the relationship between farm earnings and farm size. (0 B PDF)

      • The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook

        This is an excellent book about business management, written for farmers by a farmer.

      Agricultural Licensing

      • Washington State Department of Agriculture, Licenses, Permits, and Certification
      • Oregon Department of Agriculture, License Requirements
      • California Department of Food and Agriculture, Licenses, Permits, Dairy Exemption Numbers, and Registrations
      • Idaho Department of Agriculture, Licenses and Registration
      • Montana Department of Agriculture, Commercial Licensing and Registration
      • Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Agriculture, Inspection Services

        The database aims to facilitate the growth and success of the organic seed sector, and support farmers in meeting the National Organic Program's organic seed requirement.

      Farm Succession

      • Washington FarmLink

        Washington Farmlink is the state's leading program to link aspiring farmers and landowners and help build sustainable farming operations. Farmlink addresses barriers that farmers face in keeping their land in farming and provides succession technical assistance and education.

      • California FarmLink

        California Farmlink offers a range of services to beginning farmers and landowners, including transitioning farmland and technical assistance in business planning, equity building and farm succession.

      • Farm Succession Risk Management Checklist

        A great resource for farmers who will be retiring soon, this tool calculates your farm succession risk and provides resources depending on your risk level.

      • AgTransitions

        This free tool from the Center for Farm Financial Management helps farmers and ranchers through every step of creating and implementing an individual farm transition plan, including having your plan reviewed by professional business advisors and succession educators.

      • Jefferson LandWorks Collaborative

        Jefferson LandWorks Collaborative is an innovative network of organizations in Jefferson County, WA that work strategically to keep rural landscapes economically viable.

      • Guide to Environmental Markets for Farmers and Ranchers

        This is a practical guide to ways agricultural producers can profit from the growing environmental marketplace in the state of Washington, published by the American Farmland Trust. Explore this document to learn more about what environmental markets are, how to identifying opportunities, evaluate, and create a plan for getting involved in environmental markets.


      • Agricultural Insurance

        This excerpt from the WSDA's Green Book provides excellent guidance on agricultural insurance. (109 KB PDF)

      • Agricultural Taxes

        This excerpt from the WSDA's Green Book provides excellent guidance on agricultural taxes. (116.6 KB PDF)

      • SWOT Analysis

        This risk analysis tool from the USDA Risk Management Agency will guide you in evaluating the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) involved in any business enterprise (933.3 KB PDF)

      • So You Want to be a Farmer in Oregon?

        This document from Oregon Department of Agriculutre will tell you everything you need to know about how to start an agricultural business in Oregon, and provides a good outline for how to get started farming in other states. (6.7 MB PDF)

      • Financing Your Business in Oregon

        This is a business resource guide for Oregon's entrepreneurs published by the USDA. It includes many resources from business planning to financing loans and grants.

      • Farm Finances: Organizing and Understanding Your Numbers

        The goal of this webinar video is to make basic accounting approachable to people with no accounting experience and to encourage new farmers to develop good record- keeping habits at the outset.

      • Organic Strawberry Production Manual

        Nothing screams spring more than a delicious basket of ripe and juicy strawberries. Strawberries are among the most important fruit crops in California—with organic production on the rise. Organic strawberry sales in California have grown from $2 million in 1997 to over $55 million in 2009. Grow your own delicious organic strawberries this year with the help of this detailed how-to guide. (0 B ASPX)

      • Farmer's Guide to Organic Contracts

        The Farmers’ Guide to Organic Contracts can assist farmers with all types of agricultural contracts, but the guide’s primary purpose is to serve farm operations certified as organic under U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) regulations. Specific suggestions and information for certified organic operations are highlighted throughout this resource. (0 B PDF)

      • Cover Crop in Organic Systems: Western State Implementation Guide

        Developed by Oregon Tilth, this guide provides an overview of how cover crops can be used on organic operations, different purposes for the use of this conservation practice, design considerations, and related National Organic Program (NOP) regulations. Part of a five-guide series, this resource will enable the Federal Environmental Quality Incentives (EQIP) Program, especially the EQIP Organic Initiative, to be more responsive to and valuable for organic farmers. (0 B ORG/FILES/R-E/OCP/COVER-CROP-IN-ORGANIC-SYSTEMS)

      • Nutrient Management Plan (590) for Organic Systems

        This document is an instruction guide for creating and implementing a nutrient management plan (NMP) on certified or transitioning organic lands.An NMP for organically managed lands describes the amount, source, placement, form, and timing of the application of nutrients and soil amendments, generally by field, to meet crop nutrient needs while protecting water quality, improving soil health, and utilizing manure and other organically acceptable byproducts as nutrient sources. (0 B ORG/FILES/R-E/OCP/NUTRIENT-MANAGEMENT)

      • Transportation Cost Calculator

        A tool to help calculate the real cost of moving food from farm to market.

      Risk Management

      • National Agricultural Law Center, Legal and Business Guide for Specialty Crop Producers

        Created by the National Agricultural Law Center and the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, this document addresses a wide range of legal and business opportunities and challenges faced by specialty crop producers. It includes chapters on contract laws, food safety, food labeling, agricultural labor, business organizations, and the application of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. In addition, since the industry is also confronted by other unique challenges that directly affect competitiveness, it also includes a chapter addressing the marketing of various types of specialty crops, and one discussing the third party audit system.

      • Ag In Uncertain Times

        Developed and managed by the Western Extension Committee, this site provides live webinars and other tools designed to provide current information to farmers, ranchers and educators about the challenges in today’s agricultural economy.

      • Risk Management Advisory Service

        An agriculture commodity marketing and price risk management service provider for North American farmers, producers, and agribusiness. Risk Management Inc. works with producers as advisors-not brokers- in the marketing/selling of crops and/or your market hogs, as well as during the purchase of feed inputs for hogs

      • USDA Risk Management Agency

        USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) helps producers manage their business risks through effective, market-based risk management solutions. RMA’s mission is to promote, support, and regulate sound risk management solutions to preserve and strengthen the economic stability of America’s agricultural producers.

      • Western Center for Risk Management Education

        Helping farm and ranch families to improve their ability to manage the financial risks associated with farming and ranching is the sole purpose of the Extension Risk Management Education (RME) Program. Producer Focused Results therefore are at the core of the Regional Risk Management Education Grant Programs and the work of the WSU Extension Western Center for Risk Management Education.

      • Pacific Northwest Risk Management Education Project

        The Pacific Northwest Risk Management Education Project provides risk management education opportunities for cereal grain producers in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) region of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. This includes learning materials and decision tools for Agricultural Risk Management to manage financial, production, and price risk.

      • Farm Wisdom: Managing Risk on Small Farms Video Series

        A diverse set of small-scale producers served as farm hosts for WSDA’s 2009-2011 mobile workshops aimed at helping farmers reduce risk in their businesses. Production practices, direct marketing strategies, business planning, energy conservation practices, regulations for raw and processed products are all featured in this video series. More than 100 Washington farmers participated in nine workshops and found the information to be so useful, that we began filming them in order to reach more farmers with this invaluable, practical information.

      For Ranchers

      • The Economics of Regional Meat

        This Good Food Network webinar delves into exploring roadblocks to regional meat production, and where producers should concentrate their efforts to most effectively pave the way towards success.

      • Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network

        This non-profit organization is made up of a national network of people and organizations creating and supporting appropriate-scale meat processing infrastructure for niche meat markets. They assist processors, producers, buyers, regulators, and others involved in this growing sector by coordinating, distributing, and developing information and resources to improve access to processing infrastructure and the long-term stability of this sector.

      For Specialty Product Manufacturers

      • OSU Food Innovation Center

        Are you a food processor looking for assistance with processing development, packaging engineering, shelf life studies, or consumer sensory testing? The OSU Food Innovation can help you with their extensive client-based services.

      • Bonner Business Center

        This business incubator provides office and manufacturing space, including a commercial kitchen, available to small-scale food processing companies by the hour. Other services, like access to business counselors, are available.

      • Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce

        Author Malcolm Gladwell explains how the food industry's pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce changed the way American food businesses market their products to consumers.

      • National Association for the Specialty Food Trade

        NASFT provides resources and education, legal assistance, and networking opportunities for the specialty food industry.

      • Food Institute

        The Food Institute is a specialty product manufacturer's go-to resource for the most up to date information on the food industry. Check out their wide array of reports and studies on food marketing, regulations and commodities.

      Farmland Preservation


        • American Farmland Trust

          The mission of American Farmland Trust is to help farmers and ranchers protect their land, produce a healthier environment and build successful communities. This well respected policy advocacy organization offers education on farmland preservation, the importance of local food systems, and protecting natural resources.

        • Farmland Information Center

          The Farmland Information Center is a public/private partnership between the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and American Farmland Trust, and serves as clearinghouse for information about farmland protection and stewardship.


        • Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development

          The Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development website is an excellent beginning resource for education on farmland in Oregon, and zoning laws.

        • Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust (OSALT)

          OSALT holds land for use by future generations of growers, and works with current growers to conduct research and/or education on the lands protected. Visit this website if you are a landowner interested in a farmland easement anywhere in Oregon.

        • Southern Oregon Land Conservancy

          Since 1978, The Southern Oregon Land Conservancy has been working with landowners and communities to save this region's special places for today, tomorrow, and beyond.

        • North Coast Land Conservancy

          The north Coast Land Conservancy serves as resource for Northwest Oregon coastal communities and landowners to conserve and protect land in perpetuity for its ecological, passive recreational and cultural value. Visit this website if you are an agricultural landowner interested in a farmland easement on the Northwest Oregon coast.

        • Oregon Rangeland Trust

          The Oregon Rangeland Trust exists to help Oregon ranch and farm landowners protect and preserve the long-term viability of their ecologically significant private lands. Visit this website if you are a rangeland owner interested in a farmland easement.

        • Greenbelt Land Trust

          The Greenbelt Land Trust (GLT) works to protect open spaces in the Mid-Willamette Valley through working with willing landowners and private and governmental organizations to permanently safeguard farmland, forest, meadowland, and riparian areas. Visit this website if you are an agricultural land owner interested in a farmland easement in the Mid-Willamette Valley.

        • Deschutes Land Trust

          The Deschutes Land Trust's mission is to work cooperatively with landowners to conserve land for wildlife, scenic views and local communities. Visit this website if you are an agricultural landowner interested in a farmland easement or prospective land buyer in Central Oregon.


        • Office of Farmland Preservation, Washington State

          The Office of Farmland Preservation strives to promote the vitality of farming, farmers, and ranchers through presenting policy recommendations to the Governor, the Legislature, the Office of Farmland Preservation, and others and by enlisting public support. This website is also an excellent resource for farm succession planning.

        • Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington

          Everything you ever wanted to know about farmland preservation in Washington State!


        • Land Trust of Treasure Valley

          The Land Trust of Treasure Valley identifies lands with special natural, scenic, recreational and agricultural values, and works with willing landowners to conserve these lands through acquisition, easement, education, and good stewardship. Visit this website if you are an agricultural landowner interested in farmland preservation in southwestern Idaho.

        • Southern Idaho Land Trust

          The Southern Idaho Land Trust, Inc. is a private non-profit organization, managed by local residents, whose mission is to provide landowners with voluntary opportunities to preserve and protect lands for the future. Visit this website if you are an agricultural landowner interested in farmland preservation in southern Idaho.


        • National Resource Conservation Service Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program, Montana

          This program helps farmers and ranchers in Montana preserve their agricultural land through providing matching funds to State, Tribal and local governments, and non-governmental organizations with farmland protection programs to purchase conservation easements.

        • Montana Association of Land Trusts

          The Montana Association of Land Trusts is a group of 12 separate nonprofit land trust organizations working on private land conservation and voluntary conservation agreements throughout the state of Montana. Visit this website if you are an agricultural land owner interested in a farmland easement in Montana.


        • Alaska Farmland Trust

          Alaska Farmland Trust (AFTC) is a private, non-profit land trust dedicated to assisting landowners in preserving their working agricultural lands.


        • California Council of Land Trusts

          The California Council of Land Trusts acts as a unified voice for more than 150 land trusts working in local communities throughout California. Together, land trusts share a common vision for protecting the best of California -- natural areas, farmlands, parks, and clean water and air. Visit this website if you are an agricultural land owner interested in farmland preservation anywhere in California.