Adding Value To Farm Produce Sales

I was talking with a fellow attendee from last summer’s profitable market gardening workshop in Kelowna, B.C., and he asked me how did I add value to sales at our farm this past summer.

If you are in an area with a lot of farms, and a lot of the same items for sale, you need a niche that garners attention and loyalty! Because your customers can and will go to different vendors and farms, looking for the best deal. But you can keep them happy. And it’s all in the little things that make a customer’s day and put a smile out there that does that.

Last year, when we were still in Maple Valley, Washington we ran our urban farm under the name Lahar Valley Farm, and our logo incorporated Mount Rainier into it. A bold logo caught the eye, especially at markets, with the banner behind us. With an unusual name, it struck up conversations quickly. With our current location, on our new farm we have gone back to the homestead name, Never Free Farm, and haven’t decided if this will be the new name. However, a great name, bold logo and a social media presence is some of the most important things you can do immediately.

Social Media:

You cannot avoid it. You don’t need to be a photography pro, nor own a fancy camera. Learn to take non-shaky photos with your phone, use a few carefully selected hashtags, and use Instagram to showcase what you grow and do! You don’t have to post a ton of photos, but keep it regular. When things catch your eye, take the time to slow down and shoot a few photos. When you have time, post them. Be who you are, let people in a bit into what goes on in your life.

Feature fun activities for children. I cannot stress that enough. Parents love to take kids to farms, be it urban or rural. You don’t need to be a tourist trap with a petting zoo and ride on train, with inflatables and a bounce house. Rather, think Waldorf/outdoor kindergarten style where the children can run around and burn off energy, and if they pick a few strawberries, so be it. In off-season I hosted home schooling families to come out and visit. Activities involved digging for worms in our worm bin, to seeing how plants grow.

But one of my favorite things is above: painted rocks. I hosted a local rock spot (it even had its own Facebook page) for the local painted rock group in the town. Most towns or regions have a group on Facebook, and a hashtag (ours was #MVRocks and #MapleValleyRocks). People came by often to swap rocks.

These rocks lasted minutes out there! They carried our farm website on the back as well. I know similar small business who would hide painted rocks that if redeemed, would win a prize.

Other farms did similar things, such as letting children throw feed to the chickens, or open test garden days (for a local seed company). U-pick is also an idea some farms have gone to, to give a deeper connection for the families.

Build in loyalty with custom boxes:

Last year much of our business was built off Facebook posts, on our farm’s page (a fresh sheet was posted weekly with prices), and on local community pages on FB as well. With photos and clear prices, people knew how to contact us. We offered pickup in coolers, and customers could pay ahead with Paypal invoices, if they wished. Having a presence on social media also meant that customers could tag us, to share us with friends.

We didn’t have the space to run a full sale CSA but we could offer price point boxes. If a customer had $10 or $20 in their budget, we made it so, and if there was something they didn’t like, they let us know. Freshly picked, often within an hour of pickup. That is something big farms cannot offer – and they won’t get at a farmer market.

And we always tucked in a special item, be it a bit more of a veggie, to a cutting of tiny grapes, or fresh herbs. Something to let people know they are appreciated.

~Sarah

New Products and Upcoming Bazaars

With November here, we have a few winter bazaars we will be at – and new products as well – coming up.

Greater Maple Valley Community Center’s Annual Holiday Bazaar, on Saturday Nov 18th.

Rise & Shine Benefit Breakfast Bazaar, December 2.

Woodsy Cologne, the first cologne oil I have created will be a new item this Fall. While it might be created for men, it’s a great unisex blend. And as always: Top 8 Allergen Friendly! I listened to the many requests to have essential oil rollerballs that were also perfume.

A fab new item is the Chai Tea Bath Bags. Each gift box has 2 baths in it, and it smells amazing!

I hope I get a chance to connect with you all at the regional sales this Fall and Winter! And we may have some more fun new items for sale as well – all of which I am working on hard currently.

~Sarah

Profitable Market Gardening Workshop

Kirk and I had the chance last week to attend Green City Acres “profitable market gardening workshop” in Kelowna, British Columbia.

Kirk and I have had dreams and plans for the farm/homestead, and while we are making headway with that, we needed help to achieve it all. How do you take your goals/wishes/wants and make it happen? Sometimes it feels so overwhelming, to go from gardening to farming.

So we drove 6+ hours to Canada to take Curtis Stone’s first class on urban farming and how to be profitable. Green City Acres is his farm, which is a collection of lots (land) that they farm on, doing high density/rotation of higher value crops. The class was split between inside and outside, in the field.

The flagship plot is easy to spot, and it’s a beauty. There is no house on the lot, meaning the entire lot is used.

We got put to work, even on day 1. Here we were getting instructed in a Greens Cutter.

If you have watched Curtis’s videos…this is the German 😉

I walked out with a lot of knowledge and how to put it to use.

5 burner flamer. For when a 1 burner isn’t enough 😉

Just remember kids…keep the blade away from your legs…..

One highlight during the week was talking tomatoes. I grow a lot of them. But I have always grown mine as “field tomatoes” so had wanted to learn in person on this subject, which was led by Roger:

A lot to take in, but again, it puts me where we want me to be. (Does that sound odd? I am sure it does)

Some of the days we worked at the ‘home base’ at Curtis’s home. This is where they grow micro-greens.

Learning to do flats of micro-greens.

Peas!

Pea sprouts.

Sunflower shoots.

Second type of pea shoots.

Washing produce.

From growing to bagging.

This is an incredibly pretty salad mix.

Curtis talking front yard growing.

Salad blends (which we harvested).

A lot of tool talk, and hands on use.

Curtis with his BCS – we have one coming which will help us bust our glacial till soil up….finally. It has been the hugest issue for our dreams.

Hands on time helps a lot to shorten the learning curve.

Plots….and more plots. A lot of visiting.

Setting up a cat tunnel.

And as well, tearing it down.

Kelowna is a flat city and easy to walk. So much to see, and a lot of urban gardening going on.

One of the plots, having its front yard being removed and getting ready to be worked.

The back yard of the plot.

Another plot, which was one I recognized instantly from his videos.

And to that……it was a great (and educational) week.

New Items In The Store

Cinnamon Oatmeal Soap

New Romance Gift Box

(Massage Oil)

The new Romance Box has our new Cinnamon Oatmeal Soap and a massage oil, made with fractionated coconut oil, rose hip oil (contains Vitamin E), patchouli essential oil & pure rose essential oil. It also has a Lavender Salt Bath Soak, to hang under the water while filling your bathtub (Oats, Lavender, Epsom Salts, Lavender Essential Oil).

Farm Store Debut This Weekend

Never Free Farm’s store will be having its debut this weekend at the Harvest Festival, which is hosted by Greenplay Cooperative, as its yearly fundraiser. Our two youngest boys attended the nature school, so it is something that is special for us!

harvestfestival

We will have our new product line, and also a number of our strawberry plants for sale (they winter over here in the PNW). It’s been such a nice September many of our plants still have flowers coming on, and even berries. There is still time to plant them in the ground – and wait for next spring, when they will come alive and bear fruit.

I hope to see you there!

~Sarah