Marketing is an important step in moving products from farm to table. Farmers should consider marketing their goods in more than one way and in more than one location. Direct marketing options include: roadside stands that may or may not be located on a farm, pick-your-own operations, online platforms, community-supported agriculture, and farmers markets. Stands should be on a well traveled road near a population center. They should have good visibility from the highway, be away from sharp curves, hillcrests, and high-speed highways, have easy turnoffs and return flow of traffic, provide plenty of parking space, offer access to power and clean restroom facilities.
A farm may not be the best location for sales, a stand in another location may be a better option. Stands need a variety of produce, but it can be difficult for one person to grow everything. Growers sometimes purchase additional products from other farmers. Pick-your-own operations are popular for crops such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and muscadines. Other crops can also be marketed this way.
The location of a pick-your-own farm is not as critical as the location of a roadside stand. Having customers due in the harvesting requires less labor, handling, shipping, and storage. At pick-your-own farms, think about parking, restroom facilities, and additional insurance needed because of a higher risk of accidents. Online options are available for marketing produce. Many farms have websites, electronic newsletters, text alerts, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages. Many farmers post pictures of the harvested crop and buyers contact them instantly. Community-supported agriculture is a marketing option where customers pay money before the crops are planted, and then receive produce during the season. Farmers refer to this as purchasing a share, and a customer could purchase half shares or multiple shares depending on the amount of produce needed.
These shares are picked up at the farm or another convenient location once a week. A farmers’ market has several advantages. The location is usually in a high traffic area. It provides small farms with a sales outlet. It is a great way to advertise farm products that wrap in at other times of the year. The disadvantages of a farmers’ market include time and travel away from the farm and consumers who purchase in small quantities. Before participating at a farmers’ market, contact the market manager, request information on rules for a particular market, terms, location, days open, fee, and items allowed to be sold.