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Marketing the Market

It’s only the first week and my mind is already churning with ideas for where this road may lead. Farmers are so busy with the day to day that they can’t dedicate the time they would like to marketing and business development. It’s a priority for sure but when the veggies need to be harvested and taken to market that takes precedent. Whether it be working part-time for a few farmers or being hired as a consultant, farmers could use advice on how to leverage what they do best or how to promote themselves better. For instance, I was at the local farmer’s market this past Wednesday evening. Which, by the way, is a community celebration here in Boulder where people come for the social aspect as much as for the fresh produce. The place was packed with food vendors, children playing and street performers. Anyway, I saw arugula at this one stand and thought about this yummy white pizza I make with arugula salad on top. But as I sized up the stand, I got the impression it was not organic so I went to the next stall which had lettuce displayed in baskets, a fun name and catchy logo (FYI…just because a farmer is at a farmer’s market, doesn’t mean they are organic). The next day, I asked my farming co-workers if that other farm was organic and they said yes and they do a really great job. Whoops! The farm’s logo, however, was generic and looked more like a sister company to Monsanto than your local, organic grower. And their stand was bland and not well staffed. Yes, I should have asked if they were organic and yes ,we need to get to know all out local farmers,. But, the average Josephine has a farm profile in her mind. A little elbow grease into the branding and profits could increase. For some farmers, it may mean diversifying to attract more customers not just at the farmer’s market but to the farm itself. I read this article yesterday in the New York Times on Agritourism. Not only can, and should, farms market themselves better but they may find a new business opportunity and a way to hire more employees by starting a side business and offer farm stays, bed and breakfasts, work shares, pick-your-own, barn weddings, field dinners, etc…