Farmers and their Diversified Horticultural Marketing Strategies [DVD]. V. Grubinger. 1999. University of Vermont Extension. Available for purchase at: http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/Videos/marketvideo.htm(verified 31 Dec 2008).
This is a Farmers and their Diversified Horticultural Marketing Strategies video clip.
Paul and Sandy Arnold, Pleasant Valley Farm. Argyle, NY.
Hi my name is Paul Arnold, this is my wife Sandy. We farm in Argyle, New York, northeast of Albany. We have a 60-acre farm, 4 acres in vegetables, an acre in large fruit and a half acre in small fruit. We grow 30 different kinds of vegetables and we sell at area farmers markets - there’s 4 of them all together and we make a living on this. When we started out we were in larger and smaller markets and then after we were allowed into one of the larger markets we found that we only needed to sell in four farmers markets a week, so we dropped the smaller markets, because everything we produced could be sold so the extra days were available for field time. Since we only do farmers markets and spend very little time actually marketing, we have extra time to do the weeding and the planting we need to do to keep the farm as efficient as we can. One way that we make a good living here on small acreage is we sell only high quality produce and we get a good price for it at the farmers markets. We bring very little seconds to the market, we just try to sell the premium stuff and if we do sell seconds of anything, we do market it as such.
There’s two things a farmer should really pay attention to when they’re growing, and one is to keep good records so that you know where you’re coming from and know where you’re going to. And the other thing that needs to be really emphasized is to be a better marketer than you are a grower. I think it’s important for small growers to capture the retail dollar as much as they can.
Now we’re in Saratoga at our farmers market. It’s Wednesday from 3-6 and it’s about 3:30 right now and we’re still going pretty strong with customers, the initial rush is over with. And we’re keeping up with restocking and spraying vegetables to keep them fresh looking and the tarp is keeping the hot sun off most of the greens and that’s really important to keep the quality because when somebody comes at 5:00 or 5:30 and that stuff still really looks fresh that’s really important to make those customers feel just as welcome as the ones at 3:00. These people line up here at 3:00 because they know we’re going to take care of them. We’ve got four or five people here ready to service them rather than just one because we know that when they get here they want to be serviced fast and that’s all part of giving good service, is being able to get their order and get on to the next person without them getting frustrated that it’s taking too long.
We try to learn as many customers' names as we can because we have such regulars coming back each week that we make it a point to remember names. Displays on our table are I think really important to what we want to do, you know at the market it really helps, we get a lot of customers that say that our displays are really nice. We try to make it really colorful, our help on the table is presentable and we like them to always give 110% to the customers, the customers are number one. Some of the innovations that we’ve made at our stand to help us in marketing is to make our stand more visible by adding a red and white awning around the outside of it so people coming down to the market can always pick us out. We also have our logo right on the centerpiece in the middle so that people’s focus is right on our logo and remember our name and our farm name. We also are always trialing new varieties - such as this year we have purple carrots and yellow carrots we’re playing with. We have blue potatoes and other things that make our table interesting and people are always wondering what we’re going to have next. We sell beets here in many different ways as you can see. We've got beets here without tops, and beets with tops, and that’s really important that we’ve gotten, get people what they want and give them a choice. We’ve spent a lot of years developing varieties that are, finding varieties that are really good flavored and have really good presentation out here. Chard, this is green chard and we’ve got multicolored chard and the red chard. And we've got all kinds of choices of every kind of variety, the same with lettuces we have all kinds of the Bostons and the green leaves, red leaves and different kind of oak leaves and romaines. A couple different kinds of cucumbers and different onions that we sell and different kinds of zucchini and four different kinds of potatoes and many different kinds of tomatoes, because we do a lot of heirlooms.
We find out if our customers are happy by listening to them at the table and actually asking them questions, because we are actually right there at the farmers market and our customer’s in front of us, we can just keep right on top of what their needs are and if they’re unhappy or anything is wrong we can make it right, right there. But most of the times we’re asking them how did you like those red carrots you had last week or how were the white ones and how were the Brandywine tomatoes that we grow, there’s all kinds of ways that, and also sales, sales are going to tell you, if something isn’t selling and something is not moving on the table we know that there’s something wrong with that product and we’ll start quizzing our customers.
One thing that we’ve done in the past ten years of farming and selling here is just to raise prices little by little and so what’s happened in ten years is most of the prices we started out with have doubled. Some people come to the market and complain about the prices that we have, for instance our blueberries we sell in a half pint basket for about the same price that some other growers may sell them in a pint basket and we merely explain that we have minimum value and that we know what we need to get for that product in order to keep making a living at farming. Over the ten years that we’ve been farming, we’ve increased our efficiency in production and also marketing, we have large customer base which has been important because as we are raising two children we find we need to spend a less time in farming and have a little more time in family life.
This video project was funded by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (USDA).
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