Locally grown grains are on the rise! Bakers are seeking local and often organic wheat. Microbreweries are seeking local barley and hops. Distillers are seeking rye and a number of other grains.

The small grain production landscape, however, is not set up to support the new, expanding local small grains supply chain. Industrial, commodity crop growers bring their product to grain elevators and receive a set price based on the market. Independent small grains growers have none of this established infrastructure – they need to invest in or find access to post-harvest, value added capabilities, storage, distribution and sales and marketing. Farmers new to small grains typically need mentorship and support on production, and access to suppliers for seeds and other inputs.

New Venture Advisors helps clients – such as communities, farmers, and buyers seeking more grains – develop new ventures that are needed to better integrate their local grain supply chain.

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New Venture Advisors is a team of business consultants specializing in local food system planning and new enterprise development.

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Grains Projects

Shagbark Seed & Mill Growth Plan

Athens, OH

Shagbark Seed & Mill is a social enterprise launched by the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative in 2010 to purchase, aggregate, store, process, value-add, market, and distribute certified organic Ohio-grown bean and grain products. They currently sell to stores, restaurants, and institutions across the mid-Atlantic region. At 10 years in business, Shagbark Seed & Mill is contemplating growth strategies that will enable the company to double its product sales over the next 3-4 years and support more Ohio and Appalachian family farms. The company worked with New Venture Advisors to conduct a business review, recommend operational, financial and market strategies,  and create a roadmap that will guide the company through its next phase of growth. (2021)

Northeast Market Assessment for Vermont Grain

Montpelier, VT

Northern Grain Growers Association, UVM Extension, Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program and Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund/Farm to Plate are wisely exploring agricultural options for Vermont dairy producers whose farming operations are facing an economic crisis that threatens the loss of their land and livelihoods. This group of collaborators is developing a hypothesis that investments in grain industry infrastructure could catalyze production transition and expansion among regional producers. New Venture Advisors conducted a market study of the Northeast for Vermont’s grain industry and developed recommendations aligned with Vermont’s grain production strengths. (2020)

Livingston County Grain Center Study

Livingston County, NY

New Venture Advisors assisted the Livingston County Industrial Development Agency in assessing the feasibility of establishing a grain center that would support grain producers in the region and respond to increasing demand for New York-grown grains for microbrewing, distilling and baking. The center will launch in 2019 as a clearinghouse and storage facility for malting barley and as a soybean extruder to produce soymeal for dairy feed and oil for resellers. It is expected to serve as a catalyst for the development of an industrial grain cluster in the greater Rochester region. (2017)

 Whatcom County Food System Plan

In 2021, the Whatcom County Food System Committee conducted a community food assessment that pointed to key opportunities to build a more robust and resilient regional food system. New Venture Advisors partnered with Whatcom County staff and the Food System Committee to draft a Whatcom County Food System Plan that builds upon these findings. This Plan focuses on five key goals for building a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient food system, and was informed by an inclusive community engagement process. The Food System Plan will provide the county with a policy roadmap that will strengthen the local food system for years to come. (2023)

 Whatcom Local Food Campus

The Whatcom Community Foundation invests in activities and organizations that improve the ability of people to help themselves, increase connections among people, and take cooperative approaches to community issues. WCF is exploring the development of a local food campus on a waterfront property that would become a multi-tenant site, anchored by a collaborative production kitchen benefitting food access, school system, and community organizations. The goal is strengthening Whatcom County’s local food system by promoting health equity, forging tangible strategic connections between food production organizations, and helping farmers connect with institutional markets. The facility will also feature an incubation kitchen, demonstration kitchen, event and classroom space, collaborative office and conference facilities, and housing.  New Venture Advisors developed the business case for this ambitious project and continues to support its development through engagement and operational development. (2023)