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Logo of AdAgrA 2018: Something Better

2. Market Gardening: How Do I Market my Produce?

Michelle Lesher Larry Lesher



  • January 17, 2018
    9:30 AM
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Heavenly father we just come before you again Lord asking that we be your servants that we would be a blessing to this crowd that you would labor through was that it not be our ideas and our own thinking that we would glorify you and we say and do that you would be able to speak to each individual here for what they need I pray you give them ears to hear the more than just hearing that they would put their hand to the plough they put these things into action and they would lean on you and trust you that you are going to guide them into all truth we thank you for the opportunity now to to teach and learn. Bless us to this in that we might glorify the as our prayer in Jesus name for his sake we pray Amen. All right so. We. Thought we would approach this a little bit backwards so we're going to approach it from the idea of. Well Alan then we're going to talk about they started a farm this year so they've had a farm but they've moved to a new place and they did a lot of searching for land they've done a lot of once they found the land the development of the land and all these things just this last year and so they're going to cover some of those details so what we're going to do is we're going to start marketing which to me seems a little bit backwards from where you would necessarily start you would think about talking about how you grow stuff but we're going to talk about marketing because a lot of times what you grow is dependent upon your market and so we're going to start a little bit what I would consider from the back into this and work towards the OK how do we do it. And if you don't think marketing is important or that it's some sort of boring component of this it won't do you really much good to grow bunch of produce and not have anywhere sell it it turns into compost not anything wrong compost but you don't want to be what you grow. So the first question I think of when I think of marketing is that. I need somewhere to let it be sold and usually a large metropolitan area whatever closest city it is not mandatory but it is a good question to ask yourself what is the largest metropolitan area how big is it. Hell far away is it because these all become very pertinent when you start driving there on a regular basis. Another question is how educated is that community about this type of thing you want to do and so you know we have a large metropolitan area we're at Louisville Kentucky not too far from there we have Bloomington if we really get adventurous we can go to Indianapolis. You know none of these things are are as far away they're not out of reach for us and so we have very large metropolitan areas but they're not maybe not as educated as say when we were in Washington State we were going in to Seattle. I don't have to educate if I asked last night John asked Did anybody know what escrow roll was most of our population base new. School we grew spigot our yellow and most of our population base and I was a maybe not most but a large portion of our population base there knew what those foods were I didn't have to educate them if I said this is coal Rob they were asking me for core Abbay I would have to tell them what color Robin is and so. Knowing the education base of your population will help you tremendously as well I was just going to give an example we do two different farmers' markets and little one is in the parking lot of a health food store the other is in a low income area and we sell totally different produce one that we do the other and we do different kinds of education than we do at one in the other and so you can pick and choose different markets different clientele what you feel like your mission is and where you want to serve and you can go really diverse you can be in you know more lucrative neighborhoods and diversify and go to the lower income areas as well. So part of intentionally we chose to go into the low we used to live in the area that was would be considered low income. And so for me it was very exciting to be able to go back down there and bring this you know I learned I went when I went to Seattle I went to the farm and he says Go harvest the ridicule over there and I was like Oh dear what in the world is ridiculous like my my palate choice had obviously been like Kroger was my palate choice and so all is on my whole world just was expanded on what food was and I remember the first time a fresh broccoli I was sort of I don't even wrecked you know it was like some other food and so I was excited to come back and it's actually a food desert there's not a grocery store in this area and so it was a real blessing for us to to go into that market. And then. Slam. What do people want that's a good question to ask because if you're growing a bunch of stuff that people don't want it's not really economically viable either and so that's not the I don't think that that's all you got to do in fact I would encourage you not to just do that but it is definitely a question you want to have an answer to. The other thing that's hidden in this question is What do you want to grow. There the question is what is the market demand that these are just the things that come to my mind when I think about this what's the market demand so maybe everybody loves. I don't know what do people love everybody loves cute Cumbers everybody loves okra. But if you show up like if you go to the market and everybody has the same cucumber. You're just somebody else with the same cucumbers you what's your demand right like yeah there's a demand for it but the the demand is met maybe so what's the demand and what's been met of that demand and so maybe find a niche markets might be an official. For this next one record keeping kind of like what Alan already touched on you know there's a lot of ways to do market gardening in our way is not the only way and not just the right way so we've worked in several different farms and it's amazing how different every farmer is and how they do things so this isn't the end only and only way but our Larry and I both come from the same kind of background that we really don't like the computer work very much so you can be like really into record keeping and keep a lot of really good records and it can really help your farm it being organized and efficient we tend to do the least amount of that as possible and we distort in the field more often so we'll give you a little bit of our model Allen in them do it quite different than we do and that's why we wanted to share this presentation so that you can see that there's different ways to do things so record keeping is important. But how technical you want to be is really just based on you know your own personality. I kind of. Envy Alan's ability to organize I'll tell you. I think that's what I do it's amazing I'm serious about that I wish that we had it's a wonderful asset so if you have it use it and so then you kind of you grab all this information from your community and then you have to make a decision about what you think is going to be the best outlets what you're going to grow and and sort of how you're going to manage that and there's some role. You know I think in a general sense common sense questions you should ask yourself like OK. I think the next lot actually selling what you grow probably will answer some of this. Because that was a picture. That we cultivate about two and a half acres. OK so what. This is kind of a summary slide of what we're going to talk about. So that's the presentation so farmer's market restaurants post sale C.S.A. farm dinners and online store are you going to do the online store. So the. So. Looking for a good market the the saying location location location. It's said that way because it's true. Finding the right location for what you're doing if you're growing a bunch of. I don't know we have like a a large. Korean So you have a large Korean base community. You can do niche things for that but let's say your you are growing a bunch of those things and you don't have a large Korean based community. You're in the wrong location on the wrong food for the people that your service and so it doesn't really work. Different farmers markets are going to have different types of vendors so we found you know a larger farmer Mark farmer's market you're generally going to do better in your sales people like a lot of booze they like to be able to have different things to shop for it becomes like their you know their Sunday thing that they do or their Tuesday thing that they do so generally speaking a larger market you're probably going to do better in your sales smaller markets are more like To me they're more like the mission field you're not really going there to make a bunch of money you're going there to serve a population that doesn't have a lot of resources so we actually do one very large market on a Sunday we do a smaller market on a Tuesday so you'll just have to shop around in your areas to see what the options are and so some of the things you want to ask yourself when you're looking at a market. Of one the knowledge base of the community that you're in and how how much they know about the types of food you're growing. You want to ask about foot traffic so usually a market will have a market manager go to them a lot of times they count how many people come to the market every time the market runs and they have numbers they can share with you so you can get an idea of the foot count so you would talk to the market manager about that. You know in a fundamental question is is do they have space for you you know you may like the market you may want to be at that market but they may not be accepting you know you get on the waiting list whatever so even if you don't have so you not sure you want in that market you think next year you might in that market it might be worth getting on the waiting list now. That makes sense. Although. The other thing is it's always go to market and she kind of mentioned this but you know people have blues for bread so crafts if they have those types of things you know on automatically there's a bigger draw you're getting more diversified people group when they have those other things if there are six vendors doing produce and you're grown produce you may ask yourself yeah there's a high traffic but do I or how am I going to set myself apart from everybody else if you go there and there are six members and they all have the same food you automatically know hey I can come in here and I can grow different cucumbers different tomatoes different whatever or things that are here and perhaps you can pick up a lot of sells that way. And then the other question you want to ask yourself when you go to the market to you should scope the market sell. What are the prices what are people selling stuff for. Because that's going to be really important. So we're going to give a little testimony about the care about your customers. And. We had a situation at one of our farmers markets where we had this couple man and wife that would come every week very consistently told me about their sick dog we prayed about their sick dog together just really bonded with them throughout the experience while all of us and they just stopped coming and you kind of wonder I wonder what happened to them so last year not this past season but the one before at the very end of the season it was our last farmer's market we had packed up the van went inside the health food store and were just chatting with people and this couple walks up well where are you been we've missed you you know how are things going well they had both lost their jobs and they couldn't afford to go to farmers market anymore and buy produce but we said well we have so much food in the van right now you know we just stand at the market and you know we're done and we just ran in there and loaded them up with bags of produce and gave it to them well then that winter I got a card in the mail. Had decided to join our C.S.A. for the next year which is really exciting to me so they're now C.S.A. members and we've become even closer with them they've been out to the farm and just a really cool experience so invest time in your customers when one of them approaches you we're going to hold questions to the end. Oh. Sure sure sure thank you for that. So this gentleman pointed out I said the word C.S.A. and many people might not know what that means so C.S.A. stands for Community Supported Agriculture So there's a lot of different models for this and we're going to talk about it but the idea is people invest in your farm in the beginning of the season and then you supply them with vegetables throughout the season so that's what it stands for and we'll go over that a little bit more in a little bit here but I think it's really important to talk about investing in your customer so make eye contact with people when you're serving them if you notice they're a little down ask them you know how's it going you're going to be seeing these people every week week after week and. Like Aubrey said there's this connection that's made automatically because they're trusting you with growing food for them to nourish their bodies so it's this really cool connection of trust that develops very quickly that's very unique and so you know ask them how they're doing and remember their names and talk about their dogs and things like this and it really is an amazing experience remember it's a ministry. So we'll look at how do you price your food. Yeah so it's a it's a it's not an easy thing it's not as easy as you would like it to be I'll say it that way. As we tend to go to the grocery store and look at the organic prices. And that's where we price our stuff. Usually when you come to the farmer's market it is really not OK to undercut everybody at the market and it's really you don't want to be you really don't want to be way over their prices and so you kind of have to get a fill that's why I said look at the prices when you go to the farmer's market because that's your that's your going to be basically you're going to be in there ranges and so if you want to sell tomatoes for five dollars a pound which I think is reasonable. Everybody might be selling for two dollars a pound and you might have to go well it might be reasonable to me but clearly it's not reasonable to anybody else and so you didn't have to readjust OK what does that mean for me economically was it mean for me in choosing you know how what was tomatoes look like to me now at two dollars a pound when I came from Seattle for five dollars a pound was normal when I went to South Dakota to fifty a pound as normal so that was I had to live value you know how that economically was going to affect me something else I just thought of to add is it's really important to also develop relationships with the other vendors because it's not a competition you know there's other vegetable vendors there you need to develop relationships with them too and actually help each other someone comes to my booth looking for broccoli and I don't have any but I know my fellow neighbor farmer does and I'm going to direct people over to them and vice versa that's how it really works and the other thing I was going to mention is we always at the beginning of every market pretty well unless it's a regular item we will compare prices because like Larry said we don't want to undercut each other so we want to be around the same price or you know if you have a better quality product maybe organic and theirs is not our price might be higher and you just explain that to the customer if they say well there tomatoes are two bucks over there and you're selling them for three fifty well you just explained very kindly you know we grow growers very differently we don't use any sprays or chemicals you know and just explain why your dollar value is a little bit higher and you may do certified. Naturally grown we don't do certified organic. Same standards same and so we have to explain to people little bit we tell point online stuff and so there's a lot of education's going to go into the practice of this you are really going to have to educate your population base most of the time so just to talk about the certified nationally grown really quick you can go to their website certified nationally grown and it will explain to you it's really the same standard as the U.S.D.A. certified organic it just is a lower cost for the farmer to become certified were actually inspected every year it's a great certification if you're trying to find something that's not quite as expensive as the U.S.D.A. certified organic I've been doing it for twelve years it's I think they're a great program sometimes I don't know that people understand it that well but I think it's a great program she'll talk about this because that's not my suit so punctuality is so important in my husband he runs late for everything and farming is it can be quite quite stressful when you're trying to harvest get everything in the van get to the market set up and ready before the market starts and I'll be honest with you we are pretty much never ready for the market starts and it really increases that stress level that you have if you are not there in the ready right when the first customers come it kind of sets the stage for the whole day it kind of just makes you feel stressed the whole day so we're really working on that on our farm I think this year we're going to be punctual but I just want to encourage you all to kind of try to plan your day and your harvest in your market days so that you know the time frame that you have to get everything in the van and get to market on time in try to be set up and everything looking nice before the customer arrives you will do much higher sales a lot of times markets are busy in that very first part you'll do better in your sales if you're there on time and set up. So. One of the things that you look for in a market in our area it really doesn't exist and we're in Seattle there was a bill you couldn't sell before the bell and so you would come you would set up and no one could really inhibit your set up most of the farmers' markets we tend now the time creeps back farther and farther and farther as the season goes because people just keep showing up and once a buy stuff before everybody else gets there and you're constantly getting interrupted with your. Trying to get things done so it's and that's. It. So yes so. When you send somebody home with a bag of salad mix it's just a bag of salad mix when it gets in their fridge if you have a sticker with your farm's name and your logo all the sudden now it's your lettuce that's in the refrigerator and that sticks in there mind if you're at the health food store and you're sell it mixes up there now people have some way of recognizing Oh that's so and so at the farmer's market I want that one and so branding becomes very fundamental for people know who you are and what you're Bell now if you're going to brand your stuff you want to be good stuff. If you're doing this you want to be good stuff in the first place though right and so we're going to go through some stuff some steps to make sure that you understand in the process in part how you get quality produce onto a shelf not realty products and we have a direct example of that we are best seller is our salad mix and we have a whole lecture during the main conference on commercial salad mix production and so people come to our booth we have a large following just for our salad mix and so I then sell it to our local co-op and he makes sure to put our name in our farm on the bag and he says our salad mix sells better than any other and it's because I tell my customers if you run out of our salad mix you know by then before next Sunday you can buy it in the store here so now they know they can get used to a garden salad mix at the local Co-op because of that reason so it really has made a difference with you know having our name on the product. So yeah branding is key and you don't want your brand if you complicate it simplify everything you can OK presentation matters. A picture is worth a thousand words so here's a picture of our beautiful farms a lot of color now if if we show up the quickest thing for me to do is to take all this produce that's in plastic totes go up a plastic table and set the plastic totes on the table and put a little clip a little sign on tell you the price now would be the easiest fastest thing for me to do but if you show up at the farmer's market you're like that looks kind of ugly and people are coming for an experience I do not doubt for a minute that it's Agra tain and people most of the people who come the farmer's market are looking for a particular experience first experience is looking for they want to know the farmer they want to look you in the eye and they want to talk to you about what you do that's a lot of people are interested in that but the other thing is they want to have this this experience where they're going to a cute little booth and they have a cute little experience where they buy the little you know specialty tomato from this little you know pretty design and so if you want to do well you need to do that you need to meet what these people have in their in their minds you want to give them the experience they want to have and so just like everything else we want to be organized we want to be orderly and we want to present Christ in the best picture and your farm stand your your farmer's market stand should also display that it should be set a partition stand out you know we want to we really want to. Most It is very common practice for farmers to come with their plastic totes full of food and sort of on the table it is a terrible look. So the whole abundance look is very important so if we have a little basket with like two or three things of sage in there it's not going to sell very well you want to have piles of produce on the table that really does make it draws people to your booth so you can kind of see in these pictures here the kind of basket overflowing with summer squash that piled high and tomatoes there. The bottom right when they're shows those turnips piled high it's kind of hard to see the beets piled high and so that really does draw people in when you have large piles of certain product. This next slide is my most favorite flower picture of the entire season yeah you can't see it as well there it's not photoshop there's no color at it there is this really beautiful flower the flowers really draw all people to the table so we would have farmer's market customers walk by and literally stop in their tracks and say Ah that is the most beautiful flower in the just drawls them to the table so flower where it's not necessarily nourishing their body nutritionally it kind of nourish is the heart it brings people a lot of happiness flowers do so I would encourage you if you have any inkling to kind of play around with flowers flowers are a wonderful wonderful blessing in addition to a farmer's market table real quick we just started flowers for the first time this year and it was very successful It added a lot to the farm I was able to start that because I quit my job so we'll talk a little bit more about the flowers too as we go on but as you can see at these farmer's market tables on the left side there I've got the flowers displayed along with all the produce and it really is a nice addition to the table and it's the table cheery. I was I was probably opposed to two flowers at first and we did them the response that I got from the customers was staggering I mean it just made some people's day we had a we had a policy that we would give a bunch of flowers away every market to someone we felt the Lord was sort of impressing us this person needs a bouquet of flowers today. And they would break down in tears I mean it was amazing the response people would come back and tell us how long they lasted what they did. With them and it's you touch people's food in the flowers is like this whole other group of people that you just weren't touching before and so mysteriously it is like an imperative in my mind now and we went and spent a bunch of money on flour balls and stuff this winter and planted stuff for the spring and just like it's it really was a powerful testimony to me I just want to add I'm thinking of it now our website is eastward gardens dot com. And any of you that have a question about starting flour or starting a farm we're happy to help you just e-mail us you can go to the Web site the best way is to direct e-mail us at Easter gardens at G. Mail dot com So eastward gardens at G. Mail dot com and then just use your gardens dot com So for any you know when you get home if you want to try some of these things just e-mail us so we are going to we're we're kind of getting behind on our slide shows we're talking way outside of what we are which is fine but I'm going to I'm going to I want to hit a couple of points. When you leave the filled so when we go to Farmer's Market. We're harvesting to them the minute I'm packin she's still harvesting it's like it's a it's a hectic situation whatever you do and I mean it sounds crazy maybe go change your clothes before you go to the market. Don't go to them transplanting clothes are not market clothes. OK. This is key know your products know the names of your products I actually know why you chose that one. Because people come and I'm like oh that's Samantha had lettuce and they're like. I'm like yeah that's Samantha had lettuce or that's unseen Ohad let us know and I know the name and I can say well I grilled that one because some of the head lettuce it's got that blush of red it's got a really nice smooth like almost buttery heart to. And so when you cut it it's a it's a oak leaf lettuce an oak leaf lettuce has a nice crunchy spine on it's almost like a Romaine except for it's really frizzy leaves that's why it's called Oak Leaf and that oak leaf lettuce is pretty like that it is a law to a salad and so now I'm talking about this lettuce I have like this this really intimate relationship with this lettuce like it's inspiring to me and so people are like wow I want to I want to eat that lettuce. You know and so you know when your product why you chose that product is very powerful it's a sales point but it's it's true too like you should genuinely like what you grow you sell it better we have found it's really funny any farm we have ever worked when you go to market you will sell the most of your favorite thing because people are going to ask you you know there's two carrots there which are favorite why I really like this one well that's the one that they're going to buy also knowing the names of the flowers people would come up and be admiring them and I say oh that one's called cafe au lait or that once flew Air and it's just adds a personal touch to it that people really appreciate and you know it shows you're care about what you're doing and this is the intern wedge right. This is the health message this is the interim wedge a boulder a rock that you cannot lift if you take a wedge and you sit under a new you just know that little widget will lift that mountain. This is a powerful entering wedge. Something I forgot to mention was knowing recipes because people are going to come up and say I don't really know how to cook radish tops so have I you know share with them the recipes that you use and that is also you know a perfect example of an entering wedge because you're going to be giving healthful recipes to people a lot of times people will say like last night in our icebreakers I don't really like turnips Oh I know a great way that you can try turnips that you might like because a lot of people have these bad experiences with vegetables because when they were younger they were just overcooked. And they you know had no flavor and so you kind of try to encourage them to try things again you know and give them new fresh recipes that does help as well so people have the know they like to turn a plus there's like three groups all these people turnips and I'm like that's insane they're the best things ever and this is what we do a farmer's market we grow little white turnips we don't grow the heart Herc I terms because of reasons of association with Monsanto we're on called Oasis. And I will literally say take these turnips you don't like turnips take the turnips if you don't tell them what to do and say Now you come back and tell me you don't like those you're going to love them it's a simple recipe chop a quarter and throw in a pan little bit a little bit of something isn't water and the little sea salt on top of them and roast it it's going to be like candy they're delicious and so anyway. I'm saying that because recognize give stuff away. It goes so far as somebody is buying twenty dollars worth of produce from you and you say you know what we've got this big power outages here Chinese Russians. They remember that stuff and here's the key you know how you can give something away because you love that person. When you see your customers somebody you love you will treat them like somebody you love. Yourselves and talk about restaurants OK So we sell to reduce your farmers' market we also sell to restaurants I would consider restaurants kind of more of a higher maintenance. Outlet for produce because you really need to call them weekly you need to know their menu we sit down with some of the chefs ask things that they want us to grow we try to grow things specifically for them and. We actually market to a lot of like more four star gourmet type restaurants in the Louisville area because they like specialty things that they can't get anywhere else and we really like to. Grow that type of thing we like to grow these little niche specialty things that you can't find anywhere so you have to really work at building relationships it's taken us probably through well four years four seasons to get consistent with just two local restaurants really in our area so it's not like we're selling to lots of restaurants but they are higher end restaurants and we've developed a nice relationship with them we've been selling them sweet potatoes all winter long. A little over two hundred pounds worth now which for us is great and they love them Mera Saki specialty Japanese variety that you can't really get you know anywhere so we love growing those. Know their menus some restaurants this farm to table thing is very popular right now so no if they want seasonal which most of them do a lot of these more higher end restaurants are changing their menus weekly bi weekly monthly to keep up with seasonal so it can be quite fun you can really work well with local chefs you just kind of got to get that in and once you get the end consistently call them and try to have the product that they want and that will be a great opportunity for you. So we talked about the weekly calls and then just consistency. A lot of restaurants are going to need large amounts consistently so that's where you kind of just have to find your niche we're not so much into doing you know mano crop type stuff where you have a lot of one thing we like to grow a lot of variety so that the farm is not just sustainable for the people we grow for but also for us so we can live off the food we grow so you just have to kind of figure out what it is that you want to be doing with the high diversity is going to be a different kind of restaurant than you know more like a larger probably chain type restaurant. OK so then wholesale Larry's having me do the restaurant wholesale and C.S.A. because they're a little bit more like I say mentally taxing maybe just because you have to really. Call the people a lot so we're in the field every Friday in the morning I call the wholesale co-op that we sell to tell him what we have he tells me how much he wants and we go from there so it's a weekly thing of actually figuring out what we have how much we have and how much they want. So we sell to local health food store. There's also like produce auctions that you can do we've never actually done them but that is an outlet that you could look for in your area I think that's usually like more of a rural thing like in rural areas or maybe you don't have a lot of you know like a city traffic area you could look into produce auctions. And distribution centers. I'm somebody that's selling to grocery stores in that case and usually that's very like if you're doing a large volume of food you would set up an account with them and they would tell you what to grow basically and you would grow for them. Just rewind a little bit because this relates to host cell as well. You might have to educate people on the different varieties so for instance week or for different varieties of cucumbers this year which may not always be economically the best decision but we really like you cumbers and we wanted to try different kinds and so this one chef just week after week would buy gobs of these varieties of cucumbers and he just you guys grow the coolest varieties no one has them everyone has these normal cucumber and he has really appreciated the variety so just educate you can educate the chefs and the host cell market on you look you know do you want to try different varieties if you're willing to try to for a variety is with them that could work too and then next is our C.S.A. model. So the C.S.A. can be have a love hate relationship with the C.S.A.. It is very stressful for me someone gives me their money. Most of the time my idea is to never spend that money until I give them their food. Because it is stresses me out to have to think that I've got to have six to nine items every week for twenty weeks is stressful for me as a farmer but. I get all that money upfront in assistance in the lower part of the season we're building up into the you know having everything on the farm and a higher dollar income and so it carries us through parts of the season it's a great model in that sense. It's actually my favorite thing to do on the farm. There's the balance right he's stressed out I love it so the reason I love it is because it's families buying into the farm so it's people investing in the farm ahead of time very thought out process they're giving you this chunk of money we charge five hundred dollars a season for ours it's a twenty week program and I put a newsletter in each box I put a lot of time and energy into personalizing it trying to think about the products that are in the box that they go together that they can make a meal with it and I actually have C.S.A. appreciation dinner every year on the farm so we invite all the C.S.A. members to the farm and I make a homemade meal for them and we sit around and we get to know each other so to me it's the real personal I mean farmers markets very personal wholesale restaurants can be but for me the C.S.A. is the most personal because they're really investing in the farm they're taking a chance with you that you're going to have crops and you explained to them in the beginning you know we might have crop failure and they're like going to take that chance with you so it's this really cool relationship that you build with your customer base and the new the newsletters are great which we'll talk about the next slide so I want to point out like we have a farm dinner there we do for the big. And of the year and a lot of times they'll bring friends that might be interested and you do build a different kind of bond with this this way that you interact with them like I go to one of our customers allows us to use his porch as a drop off point so we actually go and we sit on this porch we set the boxes out and I usually hang out for a little while because most people show up at the beginning and I chat with him and we talk about what they did this week what did they do with the food or whatever and you just have this opportunity to to really not be selling behind a counter but actually just engaging with them and we have the on farm dinner you know I take them for a ride in the tractor and take them around the farm and they see their you know and when we address them in the newsletter we say your farm this isn't our farm we're stewards of this farm you've invested in this farm it's just much yours as this is mine at least this part of it and so you know we try to make them feel like this is theirs and they have not just bought produce they've invested into the possibility for this to happen. In the particular community that we deliver to it's a small little rural town and there's all. Oddly enough a bunch of people who are interested in healthy food and have no access to it and if we don't bring them this produce these are going to drive to Louisville or Bloomington and it's a far drive for them and we're affording them something that they just don't have access to and it's it's empowering. So it's really neat this year we had I had a coworker so the job that I was working before I quit completely was working for WIC women in fit in children and a lot of the clinics in Indiana are very rural areas and one of my coworkers lives in one of these areas and she was just like Man I wish I could get your produce consistently forty five minute drive from the farm and I just thought you know there's really no way I would bring your produce when I had it for work and she said well what if you made one of your C.S.A. pick ups here and we were both like how in the world are we going to pick a whole day to. Travel forty five minutes to drop a C.S.A. off there's just the two of us it would take too much time so we decided to tell her Look if you can find ten people to join in this area we will drive there well she found twelve which I could not believe it I thought for sure she's never going to find ten we're not going to have to do this and she ended up doing it and I know what he's going to say he's going to say we don't advertise for C.S.A. every year we say Lord whatever you give us is what we know that you will provide because it's just the two of us and it's a little scary sometimes going into it so we've never advertised for it and every year it gets a little bigger and a little bigger and we say Lord I guess we're going to have an approach this year because you've gotten us ten more members this year what whatever it is I used to Do C.S. is there were eighty three the biggest one I've ever done is a three person C.S.A. it's a lot of work to harvest that much stuff and it was one day so a lot of people do big ones but little space them out so they have smaller harvest we only have one day for. Basically. And so but we only have sixteen members to. But. The first year she actually didn't get the ten shillings he was five six five or six and so we said OK we'll meet you halfway so if you know meeting point halfway and they would drive all the way from halfway from where they were we would meet him half way we make this exchange of food the next and next year she found twelve so we drive out there so yeah you know we drive all the way there but it's it's. It's been awesome so here's the news letter this is the coolest part about the C.S.A. so many C S A's many people have told me over and over again Oh I got a C.S.A. and I you know we get all the same thing and I didn't know what to do with it and you know it's just it turns into a bad experience for people they feel guilty because they don't eat everything in the box they're like throwing it out for the deer to eat and they're thinking they're just wasting their money and so variety is very import. And I think the education piece and putting some kind of information in the box so that they know what they're getting and I really enjoy making the newsletter so I'm a dietitian So I talk about the nutritional value of the food that they're getting so you'll see at the top it's what's in the box and then I do a about this week's produce and so I'll talk about you know usually the things that are a little different I actually put the different names of the varieties you'll see the garlic I don't just put garlic I put chestnut red hard neck garlic and then I explain to them what's unique about this garlic why are we growing this garlic What's the difference between hard neck and soft neck I might do a little educational thing in there about when you harvest garlic or when you plant garlic so it's giving them not only education on the actual variety and the nutritional value but even like if they want to grow it on their own you know it depends on what I'm talking about but I will actually include all that information on the about this week's produce on the right I always put a recipe this part's a little tricky because you want the recipe to have at least two of the items in your box like if you have a recipe and it's only one of the things that's kind of maybe a little lame you know you want to have at least two if not more of the different things. Which means I have to have two things in that box that can be put into a recipe and I have to know that quite a bit in advance to have that come to fruition when it's supposed to and so. I will and I want to say here if you do a serious a you can't put beets in their box every week you know nobody wants turnips every week and so I make sure that when you're planning for your so you say you actually know like OK if I put beets in this week next week maybe I can put chard in it's in the family you know but it's a different thing and so you've got to sort of plan to stagger your crops into that bar however there are. A few staple items you can put every week like the salad mix you know head lettuce salad mix those are things people want every week there was a little low in our salad mix and I didn't include it for a couple of weeks and our customers were like are we going to get the salad mix back so some things you can put in there week after week mostly just salad mix like lettuces and salad mix because those are something people are going to eat every week try to make the other varieties more diversified The other thing that's really cool is every year we've done this I have posted newsletters on our website so if you go to our website under newsletter tab it has every newsletter I have ever made and you all are welcome to use any of those recipes you want I give you permission if you want to cut and paste any of the information it's mine what's mine is yours it all comes from God anyway so you can use any information that I have there and. The recipes people love the recipes and then it's so cool when you hear a customer say oh I tried your recipe and I love it you know so then you know they're actually using it they're eating it and it's it's really amazing and then on the bottom part which is really important too that's the farm happenings I try not to make it too stressful like talking about all the bad things are living on the farm but you do want to talk about your struggles and your successes so they're kind of going through this journey with with you it makes it very personal We always sign it at the bottom your farmers are the less sure's and whenever we have people there helping us this particular week we had a friend there named Chris that was helping us so we always include whoever our helper is in the newsletter as well because if it wasn't for them they wouldn't be getting their vegetables week after week so the newsletter is a key component to having assists a successful C.S.A. you want to make sure that you give people the information that's in the box. So we now actually have time for questions. Aubrey and Alan are going to share. But there C.S.A. in a couple other presentations they have a different model than we do but we thought it might be nice since we didn't have time last time. We're going to take any questions that people have for a few minutes is anyone have a question so far this may have. OK so how big is our farm so our farm is sixteen and a half acres but we cultivate on Two and a half of those acres. So we probably So we have the way we laid out our farm was as we have doubled the amount of space that we grow on so half of it isn't cover crops and sort of follow the other half were cultivating it's about two and a half to three acres including the greenhouses. That's a lot of ground for two people. Next year we cut a third of the farm out and it's going to be I think an acre and three quarters roughly next year. The reason was I felt like we would actually get higher yields if we sort of focused down on it a little bit more and we like I told you when we showed up we planted stuff it turned purple and doing run other leaf so we finally got in the fertility to a point where it's producing correctly and I don't have to plant twice as much to get you know a quarter of what I want. And so I think we can sort of narrow that down now and get a decent amount of food out of that and so that's what we're growing on. Next year. That's because the I mean I do that anyway as part of the model we move through those plots. We will talk about that but to answer your question now. You constantly want to being building most of farming. Is a robbery situation we even when we do it well we still tend to not really nourish the soil we're just taking constantly and part of allowing that process to happen is recognizing that even if we did it properly the soil is in bad shape and it just needs time to rest it needs me to put back a lot more than I'm taken out and so part of our approach is restore to we are stewards and it's not the economic return God will take care of the economic return I'm positive of that I have absolutely no fears of that but my job is to do what's right now that is hard sometimes for multiple reasons you may not know what is right and so you you are really leaning on God to say OK Lord you've got to send me now information you've got to put people in my path with righteous and information. Mission right information and then you got to give me years to hear it in the strength encouraged to do it and so you know that's been our process and so. There are challenges to it for sure and with two people there's a lot of challenges on the farm that. We have to pray about how we manage that so just to clarify because we had such poor production when we first moved on the land in Indiana the soil was not very well we were used to growing a lot of food we would play it kind of twice as much to get what we needed so now through the five years we've worked the soil it's actually doing better so we're going to downscale it a little bit we're learning so much every day we learn more and more and so that's part of why. He answered it that way does that answer your question OK Great anyone else you had a questions or. Oh I want to trust that that really does question what is the average cost on our C.S.A. box so so we sell them at twenty dollars a box twenty boxes a year and so our season twenty weeks for the twenty weeks you get a box and so it's going to be twenty dollars a box five hundred dollars. We try to exceed that dollar point in the box so one of the pluses is one you're going to get access to so if I only have a little bit of something usually it goes in the box before it goes to the market so somebody who doesn't just somebody who doesn't you know somebody wants what we have that's an incentive to get the box one the other thing is this. What we did. And so we but we try to exceed that price point two part of of the investment return you get is if you're going to get a twenty dollars box we're hoping that's a twenty five dollars box you know and sometimes it's sometimes it might be less than twenty dollars but in the average over the season what we're trying to do is have an average of about five dollars more than what you spend on the box and that's kind of a security blanket for the times when you don't have enough to put in there and then I explain it in the newsletter you know we had a rough week we had a crop failure and explain it and and then make up for it later but when you have it put it in there if you have extra We'll put it in there to make it look bigger and it kind of secures you for later one of the things about a C.S.A. That is really nice to be thought about too is people have food regrets and one of the biggest reasons people don't sign up for a C.S.A. is because they actually got too much food you would think the opposite they didn't get enough food but most people don't sign up for a C.S.A. because they got too much food and they had they felt bad that they didn't eat at all or their. Given that to their neighbors and they feel like they've been there giving away their food their money and so if you you really need to target like a practical amount of food for somebody to in a week and these are people who are vegan. These are people who eat out pretty regularly they don't eat that much produce and so for me it's very difficult for me to I have to remind myself they don't eat a half a pound of salad mix every mill. So we gauge it on six day items per box six to eight items per box is what we tell people. Did you have another question so how reliant are we on greenhouses I would say pretty heavily our cash crop is tomatoes and they're in a greenhouse one hundred twenty foot by thirty foot greenhouse. Cue cumbers and peppers we're going to actually talk a lot about our greenhouse production here in a little bit OK Now the question back there in the back. Go ahead Laura. Yes yes. Yes So the question was sixty eight items per box does that mean individual items or just bunches of carrots bunches of turnips and then how many of each item goes in a bunch. Of. A white board is is a very good tool on the farm so what we do is we will look at I look at the field and I say OK for the next four weeks the next month what do I think I will have and so I'm going to have beets in this box and I have and I say beets I mean a bunch of beets a bunch of beets maybe depend on the size of the beets and you are between three to five beads if they're small beads five it's if they're bigger beets with three uses as a thinking motto would I buy it at the store if I sell it so every bunches based on what you would expect to get at the grocery store or more that's my model pressed down and overflowing. Right. Pressed down and overflowing. OK So I'm saying OK I want beets in that box OK if I put beets in that box next box charred right because I want beets and chard in the boxes but I don't want together because you can eat the beat tops just like chard right and so you tell them that hey you didn't. Use the tops and you got to talk about the tops so you got beat and you got charged for next week so you're not going to kind of your order of what you're going to do OK I got turnips I'm not going to turn to next week so I can put radishes OK So there's two root vegetables Wells made a salad mix and every bag had lettuce should be in every box tomatoes can go in every box whether And you can so you want to grow at least for me I grow quite a few different varieties of tomatoes so I try to vary the type they get in each box cherry tomatoes. You know red round black tomato like you know they went out of black tomatoes OK purple tomatoes so if you have a nine year whiteboard we usually do like three weeks in advance to kind of give you a projection of what you're hoping for and we always put the dollar amount it's kind of your goal for what you want in your box that's how it kind of manages if we start to have value so I'll put like on the list I'll have like ten items and I'll say OK we have bezel but we can probably we're probably not going to get that item there so I'm going to push the basal out into that box and so that way I can kind of. Visually see what I'm doing you know or like oh we've got bays in the box but it really didn't go with anything in that box let's let's wait on the base a little hold it's still doing good wait a week and we'll put maybe sage in this box because it's got potatoes and so we can talk about you know so you potatoes or something like that OK the gentleman in the back in the blue so the question is how do we approach our restaurants it's a pretty interesting situation so our smaller market that's in a low income area downtown Louisville in the heart of downtown Louisville also has a juror all for all these four star Gorm A restaurants in that same downtown area they frequent this farmer's market they come in there chef coats so we know they're chefs and we just started engaging with them that way I have just kind of cold called or however you want to say it not knowing that people haven't got as good of a response doing that way I would encourage if you want to reach out to restaurant to literally go there with your product show up. Walk and ask if you can talk to a chef say I'm a new farmer in the area this is what I have if they really need to see it sheds are very busy and just calling them I have not had any good luck which is called Calling a chef. And I would suggest not just going there with your produce but with the intention of leaving it there giving them a say like here's a sample of what we do if you like it this is our number and. Don't leave them alone don't bother them they're busy people they really don't want to talk to you don't bother them but you need to be persistent too and when you bring them stuff it's the best off don't bring them your seconds bring in your best stuff so they can see what they should get and what you're going to deliver you have a question. Good question so they could. So the question is how do I know how to make my newsletter if Larry doesn't know what's going to go in the box until the day of and this is where early to rise comes in Honestly I wake up sometimes at four in the morning and work on the newsletter before I go out because sometimes I really ask him like can I know ahead can I know ahead and sometimes you just can't know ahead so you can work on it if it's like just one item that you're not sure about just leave it out until you know and you can just tweak the newsletter at the last minute but if you're really struggling and you have a lot of failure happening then there are times when I've had to do the super crunch time get up super early and write the C.S.A. The day of it. You know it's gotten better I'm not very good at writing like this is all by the grace of God I did terrible in school as far as a as a young child I didn't do well in school so school's always been very hard for me but that's gotten a lot faster so I would say it probably takes me an hour maybe to pull it together for someone that types well and doesn't do this when they type. They could knock it out in probably twenty thirty minutes you get your formats there so you're just plugging in a new recipe or plugging in a farm happening and you're plugging in the different varieties now the challenge with the newsletter can be two is that we don't have any new varieties I've already talked about all the items you know say we're ten weeks in and our verities really gone down I just explained that in the newsletter you know we're struggling this week I know it's some repeats I'm going to talk to you about a different aspect of chard maybe I talked about the nutritional value before and this week I'm going to talk about different recipes with it I just have to get creative and tweak it based on. How it's going and then really just be honest and communicate the struggle on the C.S.A. newsletter I think they appreciate that and then they know why you know what's going on so it is time for a break so those people that we don't get to answer questions just write them down it will have more time at the end of each of these said it's a more questions this media was brought to you by audio first a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse or if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit W W W audio verse or.


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