By: Mackenzie Hargrave ’16 (Environmental Economics Major from Madison, NJ), Sustainable Dining Intern
The Colgate Dining Sustainability team recently visited Nelson Farms to learn about production of local food. Amanda Hewitt, the head of Product Development guided us around the product development, ingredient storage and processing rooms of the facility. Each room was stocked with expensive equipment that small-scale farmers may find difficulty investing in. She explained how each machine helps clients transform their produce into marketable products, which can then be sold in the attached storefront and other venues across New York State.
Perusing the aisles of the Nelson Farms Country Store you can find any dressing, marinade, jam, nut butter, or coffee that would usually stock your cupboards. However, instead of being brand name products, produced and packaged on a massive scale, these products are all made by small-scale, local farmers, passionate about their product and the communities to which they distribute. As customers who rely heavily on brand name products, we can easily forget that farms surrounding Colgate are producing high quality, fresh produce that may be packaged up into our favorite condiments and available right around the corner.
The entire operation is housed in what looks like a classic country home set right on Rt. 20 between Morrisville and Cazenovia, just a short drive from Colgate. Despite the understated exterior of the building, Nelson Farms, which is not a farm at all, has created a unique and straightforward way for local farmers to bring their products directly to market.
Amanda Hewitt and Kristi Cranwell, Nelson Farms’ Director, have the knowledge and expertise to guide product development through recipe creation, cost-based analysis, regulatory compliance and production. Standing in the ingredient storage room, with our eyes glazing over, Amanda explained the complex chemistry behind ensuring products remain fresh throughout their shelf life. In addition to ensuring the ingredients maintain the appropriate pH, they must be carefully coded and tracked, according to FDA regulation.
The resources and information that Amanda, Kristi and the rest of the team at Nelson Farms can provide to farmers opens up opportunities for them to increase their business and take a stake in the local economy. Given the number of mouths Colgate Dining Services feeds daily, we have the potential to provide a massive demand for local products, like those sold at Nelson Farms.
on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NelsonFarmsCountryStore
Nelson Farms is located at 3261 Us Route 20, Cazenovia, NY 13035