Encompassing over 1,000 acres of tillable land in Baldwinsville is Reeves Farms, one of the oldest and largest conventional producers in Central New York. As a fourth generation family owned farm committed to fresh market produce, increasing organic practices and environmental stewardship, Reeves stands as a model for ethical methods in conventional production. Commitment to these values is certainly commendable, but more importantly, it is profitable. Brian and Mark Reeves’ decision to focus strictly on fresh market produce when they took over the farm in 1990 was due to the significant growth in fresh produce markets and demand. In regional production, growth is not so much of a goal as an inevitability.
“My goal is to increase our market, our profit… not many people can do fresh market well. There are lots of risks and hand labor. It’s a tough business, prices are good and there’s usually a high demand. You get what you pay for”
While Reeves Farms does have a seasonal fruit and vegetable stand, as much as 80% of its business is with retail supermarkets like Walmart and Wegmans. Less than 5% comes through direct sale while the remaining 15% goes to other wholesalers.
In light of the size of Reeves Farms’ operation, the question remains how to promote its values of sustainability and fresh produce as a model for growth. Currently ReevesFarms and other local producers only account for a small fraction of the food sold in large retail supermarkets. To increase the availability and visibility of larger scale, fresh regional production like Reeves Farms would be beneficial for both producers and consumers. The ability of other producers to reach the scale that Brian has achieved is uncertain, but at the very least his farm shows that such a model can be conducive towards both success and stewardship