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, Schuyley, 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).
The Meat Locker is supported by USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program
We are fundraising to put the “Meat Locker” project on the map! 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. The Meat Suite website is a searchable directory of local farms selling meat in bulk quantities, it helps you "find your farmer!". Once you have found your farmer, you can store your meat in the Meat Locker, "fill your freezer!"
In the past few years we have researched the best marketing channels for livestock farmers to sell meat. The “freezer trade”, that 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.
Additional research on the consumer side reveals that freezer trade offers affordability in terms of 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! Freezer trade expands accessibility to a larger population and is, in fact, the best way to buy for cash-strapped local meat lovers.
The Meat Suite & Meat Locker projects: Conquering the Barriers
Match-making: Farmers struggle to find new customers, customers seeking freezer trade meats don’t know where to begin searching for farmers that raise livestock according to their personal preferences.
Consumer Affordability: The average price per pound paid by consumers is lower than grocery store pricing, while delivering a prh3ium 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 unit sold (1 animal) than farmers’ markets, sales to restaurants, meat CSA’s, and farm store/stands.
Storage: Consumers reported loud and clear that they don’t have spare freezers. Between people with low-income, apartment dwellers, and the transient nature of our Ithaca population, people simply don’t have space to store their bulk meat purchases, even if they really want to buy this way.
Where YOU come in:
We were awarded a USDA Farmers’ Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grant to test this marketing model, however, parts of the proposed budget were cut. So, we need to raise additional funds to get this going. If you care about great local foods and supporting local farms, donating is a way that you can be involved in the next wave of the local meats movh3ent! Join us in excith3ent of trying a new marketing model and expanding accessibility of great local foods throughout our community.
Answers to FAQ’s about the Meat Locker:
- Consumers buy meat in bulk from area farms directly, it arrives at the locker cut, packaged and frozen, we just store it.
- Consumers access their meat during certain hours each week, like a CSA pick-up.
- CCE facilitates EBT usage.
- Locker rent will cost between $3-5/month/unit. Each unit is large enough to hold the average quarter of beef.
- The freezer has a security system complete with an alarm. Access to your share is managed by our Meat Locker Manager during pick-up hours.