The Finger Lakes Meat Project
Locally Raised Meat Made Easy! The Finger Lakes Meat Project is the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins and Steuben Counties initiative to grow the freezer trade (sales of meat in bulk quantities such as whole, half and quarter animals) to the benefit of both regional livestock farmers and consumers. The FLMP consists of educational efforts, an online directory of farms called www.meatsuite.com and 2 community freezer storage locations, called Meat Lockers.
MEATSUITE.COM is a free online tool for you to easily find farms selling locally raised meats in bulk. Find farmers in Broome, Chemung, Cortland, Tioga, Tompkins, Schuyler, and Steuben counties. Connect directly with your farmer to purchase the full suite of great local meats.
Meat Suite is supported by NE SARE
The meat locker provides inexpensive, shared freezer space for people to store bulk meat purchases. Purchase meat directly from farmers who will have it cut, wrapped, frozen and delivered to your locker for storage. Then access your supply during scheduled hours each week (much like a CSA pick-up). Regularly scheduled pick-up hours are Tuesdays 4:00-6:30 pm and Thursdays 3:00-5:30 pm. Drop off by appointment only.
The Meat Locker is supported by USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program
The Meat Locker is a walk-in freezer for consumers to store their local bulk meat purchases. The Locker project, in conjunction with our meat marketing website, www.meatsuite.com , is designed to increase sales of locally raised meats in a 9-county region and beyond. MeatSuite.com is a searchable directory of local farms selling meat in bulk quantities. Use MeatSuite to find your farmer, and then use the Meat Locker to fill your freezer!
The freezer trade promotes food affordability while preserving farm viability. Over the past few years, we researched the best marketing channels for livestock farmers to sell meat. The “freezer trade,” which is the sale of animals by the whole, half, and quarter, is the best way for farmers to sell meat locally, so we want to expand the freezer trade in our region to support local agriculture.
Additional research on the consumer side reveals that freezer trade offers an affordable price per pound. A survey of beef prices around the region, for example, showed that locally raised, high-quality beef and pork can be purchased in bulk for less than grocery store meat!
The Meat Suite & Meat Locker projects: Conquering the Barriers
Match-making: Farmers struggle to find new customers, and customers seeking freezer trade meats don’t know where to begin when searching for farmers who raise livestock according to their personal preferences. MeatSuite.com addresses this problem.
Consumer Affordability: The average price per pound of freezer trade meat is lower than grocery store pricing, while delivering a premium above commodity pricing to the farmer- a true win-win!
Limited time for marketing: Freezer trades sales take less of the farmer’s time per animal sold than farmers’ markets, sales to restaurants, meat CSA’s, and farm store/stands. This increases farm profits and preserves small-scale local agriculture.
Storage: Consumers reported loud and clear that they don’t have spare freezers. The Ithaca community includes apartment dwellers, low-income families, and a relatively transient population. Some people simply don’t have space to store their bulk meat purchases, even if they really want to buy this way. The Meat Locker enables more people to buy in bulk by providing communal freezer space at a low cost.
More about the Meat Locker
- Consumers buy meat in bulk from area farms directly. The meat arrives at the locker cut, packaged and frozen--the Meat Locker just stores it.
- Consumers access their meat during certain hours each week, like a CSA pick-up.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension will facilitate EBT usage.
- Locker rent is $3/ month for a small bin, and $5/month for a large bin. A small bin can hold a whole lamb; a large bin can hold a quarter of a beef.
- The freezer is equipped with a security system and an alarm. The Meat Locker team helps you access your bin during scheduled pick-up hours.