Case studies were developed to provide information about the direct marketing opportunities that exist for farmers and how these opportunities are approached by a diverse set of successful producers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The direct marketing strategies employed by the farmers featured in this series include farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSAs), u-pick, farm stand, on-farm sales, sales to restaurants, caterers, retailers (grocery stores, butchers, etc.) and processors.
These case studies were produced by Rural Roots, Inc. and the University of Idaho Sustainable Agriculture Program between 2002 and 2005. The project was part of a larger USDA Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems project called Northwest Direct: Improving Markets for Small Farms.
Profitability through Diversification at Greentree Naturals—Sandpoint, Idaho
Diane Green and Thom Sadoski farm organically on 12 acres- of which 100% of the products grown and raised are sold through direct markets including two area farmers’ markets, a vegetable CSA, a flower CSA, and direct sales to retail, restaurants and caterers. Products include a large assortment of vegetables, fruits, berries, flowers, herbs, eggs and pastured poultry.
Mid-Size Producer Capturing Local Value: M&M Heath Farms—Buhl, Idaho
Mike and Marie Heath have been farming in Buhl, Idaho since 1979. The farm is 450 acres with over half certified organic. Primary production is in organic potatoes and other vegetables with secondary production in beef, eggs, pastured poultry, grains, orchard fruits, berries and flowers. Direct marketing strategies include farmers’ markets, a CSA, direct to retail sales and direct to processing sales.
Marketing a Philosophy on S&S Homestead—Lopez Island, Washington
In 1970, Henning Sehmsdorf and Elizabeth Simpson designed a fifty-year holistic plan for their farm on Lopez Island in Washington State. Thirty five years into that plan, S&S Homestead is debt free and almost entirely self-sufficient, providing food for the family, interns and livestock, generating fertility for soil, crops and pastures, and drawing income through custom slaughter of livestock, and community supported agriculture (CSA).
Ideal Driven Farming in Oregon’s High Desert: Fields Farm—Bend, Oregon
In the southeast corner of Bend, Oregon, nestled amid newly built homes, and three blocks from the public library, there is an organic farm. Jim and Debbie Fields bought the property in 1989- ten acres of high desert quack grass pasture land. In order to create a particular lifestyle for his family, Fields says, “It was part of our values to have a farmstead.” Fields Farm produces a variety of products including; vegetables, fruits, berries, flowers, herb and eggs. Direct marketing strategies include; on-farm sales, farmers’ markets, a CSA, restaurant and direct to retail sales.
Honeyacre Produce Company: Successfully Adapting to Change: Wiggins, Colorado
This greenhouse produce company grew their pesticide free, hydroponic business model to include a portfolio of marketing outlets that have allowed them to mitigate some of the risks of the market, through reliance on both a loyal set of farmers market consumers, strong partnerships with natural food retailers, chefs looking for vine-ripened, local produce and some wholesale accounts. Russ and Cindy Shoemaker provide an interesting case in how to balance direct sales and wholesale accounts in a successful marketing plan.
This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.