The HVADC Cultivator
Sylke Chesterfield to be FFFA Project Manager
Sylke Chesterfield, principal of Chesterfield Advantage, a business consultant and certified coach has been named the Farm and Food Funding Accelerator (FFFA) Project Manager. FFFA is an intensive training program designed to help farmers and food entrepreneurs scale their business, build sales, and access financial sources. The inaugural FFFA program began in 2016. Previously, Chesterfield coordinated HVADC’s successful Local Lambs educational series as well.
Through the FFFA, participants will engage in expert instruction, one-on-one counseling and technical assistance, group interaction and industry networking events to learn how to build their sales in anticipation of speaking with investors, discover new market opportunities, and pitch to potential funders through the six-month curriculum.
FFFA participants will have the opportunity to connect with the growing network of funders that support local food systems through methods such as equity, loans, grants, crowdfunding, as well as HVADC’s Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Loan Fund. Training sessions will be conducted by HVADC, its industry partners, industry professionals, and institutional and retail stakeholders in the Hudson Valley food system. Chesterfield will be coordinating the FFFA presenters, the program schedule and site visit, as well as advising FFFA participants in her professional capacity as a business coach.
Chesterfield established Chesterfield Advantage in 1995. She explained that her independent consultancy and coaching practice “focuses on implementing systems and streamlining processes, mastering mindsets and maximizing leverage.” Chesterfield added, “As such, decision-makers are coached in the areas of strategic thinking, stakeholder engagement, effective communications and behavioral change.” Her client-base includes domestic and international interests in various industries, including the medical, engineering, legal and alternative energy (waste-to-energy).
Chesterfield is a native-German-now-American citizen who immigrated here in the early 80s. In Germany her studies focused on English and History, but once in the U.S., she changed gears to International Business. Her background includes various administrative support positions that later evolved into general management duties, responsibilities and titles.
“In 1995 I became self-employed - with the encouragement of my then-employers - who still contract with me today,” she said. “From that point on, I became a consultant to various businesses. I generally work with sole practitioners, consultants and small business owners and help them with development efforts, ensuring their businesses grow.”
Chesterfield said a most recent success involves a client who was able to increase his revenue by 40% over the past year of working with her. “That is significant,” Chesterfield says. “And this accomplishment was made possible due to his consistent efforts marketing his business and generating leads, ultimately turning them into clients.”
As part of her consultancy, Chesterfield developed a $4.2 million alternative-energy project over a two-year period. The Vermont-based project involved an anaerobic digester system designed to convert organic feedstock, such as manure and crop waste, into energy, such as gas and electricity. As part of the project, she netted $985,000 in federal, state and local grant funding, as well as low-interest loans.
Chesterfield said she is drawn to HVADC’s mission and ability to bring ag products to the market place and helping the farming industry. “If we didn’t have farmers, we wouldn’t eat,” she said. Chesterfield added she has noted that one of the greatest challenges for business owners is to engage in consistent marketing efforts to ensure their business --not just ag-related-- can grow effectively.”
Chesterfield has begun to conduct webinars for businesses. Her latest is focused on generating unlimited leads, and how to get it done quickly, to boot. “I am starting to offer online information for free that is designed for the small business owner. They can take what they learn and implement it right away. If they need help with that, I have programs, both short-term and longer-term that will keep them stay focused and on track. “I am helping people to get it done; I am not reinventing the wheel.”
HVADC Deputy Director Mary Ann Johnson notes that Chesterfield’s vast experience in business coaching will be an important addition to the FFFA program. “A very important element of the FFFA curriculum is teaching food entrepreneurs to evaluate their currents models and develop achievable goals for growth and change. As a coach for small businesses, Sylke is uniquely qualified to develop topics that address the FFFA participants’ individual needs as well as provide one-on-one counseling,” she said.
Applications for the FFFA program will be accepted until September 15. There is a nominal application fee of $15. Funding for FFFA was made possible by the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Agency. FFFA applicants must be a farm, food, fiber or agriculture-dependent business having their home office, farm or production facility in the Hudson Valley, and sourcing the majority of their product ingredients from the region, as well as the majority of their labor force. They must be able to make a commitment to the time and resources required of the training program and to commit the same to future FFFA participants as a peer or mentor. There is no cost to participate.
Questions regarding the FFBA program may be directed to 518-432-5360 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about how to register in the FFFA program, visit
Photo/Logo source: Sylke Chesterfield