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New England Farmers Express Interest in Selling More Local Food to Institutions

Farm to Institution New England (FINE) has released the third publication in a series of research reports revealing trends in regional markets for local food at K-12 schools, hospitals, colleges, and other institutions.

Producer Perspectives: The New England Farm-to-Institution Market” presents in-depth findings and makes specific, data-driven recommendations for farmers, producer service providers, government officials, funders, and institutions.

“The majority of producers who answered our survey are interested in entering or expanding into institutional markets including K-12 public and private schools, hospitals, and institutions of higher education,” said Nessa Richman, FINE’s metrics and development manager.

“Among our survey respondents, those who were already selling directly to institutions were more likely to have higher gross sales, and to have increased their acreage in the past five years, than those who were not currently selling direct-to-institutions but were interested in doing so,” she added.

The report is based on an original survey answered by 223 farmers in early 2016. Key findings include:

  • 26% of responding farmers currently sell products directly to institutions and 25% reported interest in selling products directly to institutions.
  • For farmers selling directly to institutions, median sales to institutions and acreage in production increased over the last three years.
  • Farmers selling directly to institutions reported that 49% of their institutional sales were made to K-12 schools and 31% to colleges and universities. Hospitals (10%) and other institutions (10%) made up the remainder.
  • The top five products sold directly to institutions (by value) are tomatoes, apples, meat, carrots, and potatoes.
  • The top five products sold to institutions through intermediaries (by value) are tomatoes, salad mix/greens, summer squash, apples, and beets.

Institutional food service operations (including K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and hospitals) are often seen as promising markets for agricultural producers, especially operators of small and mid-sized farms.

Farm to school programs have increased rapidly in New England and beyond, and there is evidence that procurement of local food by colleges and hospitals is also increasing.

Learn more by downloading the full report:

To dive into the key findings; hear from producers about their experience selling food to schools, colleges and hospitals; and find out how you can apply this research to your work, register for a free webinar on Tuesday, July 25th at 11 AM ET.

This series of research reports is designed to inform key decision-makers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors about how they can help move regional farm to institution work forward. All three reports can be downloaded for free online:


About Farm to Institution New England
Farm to Institution New England is a six-state network of nonprofit, public and private entities working collaboratively to strengthen our food system by increasing the amount of New England grown and processed food served in our region’s schools, hospitals, colleges and other institutions. For more information about Farm to Institution New England, visit