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Rule #3: Your Farm’s Success Will Depend on Marketing

| 8/29/2018 10:34:00 AM


So you’re excited to raise a flock of goats, or plant an acre of strawberries, or tend a dozen hives of honey bees. Terrific! Your energy and enthusiasm will be the driving forces that propel you early on. But tempting as it might be to stay up late reading about beehives, or watching cute goat videos, equal emphasis must be devoted to creating a marketing plan for each of these enterprises. Despite any specific passion you might have, your success as a farmer will depend on your ability to sell what you grow.

Seems academic, doesn’t it? Simply grow what you love, sell it to a customer, and make a profit. But from my experience, most new farmers are so enamored with the dream of growing something, that they assume that the sales will somehow take care of themselves This is a tremendous mistake. For a farm to stay in business, passion must go hand-in-hand with economic pragmatism.

I learned this the hard way. Early in my career, in the mid 1990s, I decided to raise free-range laying hens. I converted a defunct silage wagon into a mobile chicken coop, rolling it across the pasture each day so 100 hens could enjoy fresh clover, bugs, and sunshine. Of course, I was aware that once the eggs started rolling in, I’d need to sell them. But what better market, I told myself, than the local farmers’ market? The following Saturday, I headed to my local town square.

Boy, did I have a lot to learn. As a twenty-two year old newbie farmer, I had no idea that market applications occurred twelve months in advance. On top of that, there were already two farmers selling eggs in my hometown, and for a lower price than I knew I would need for mine.

The market manager took pity on me, however, and fast-tracked me into a market 45 minutes away, in another small town. The following Saturday, I took 25 dozen eggs, set up a little table with a sign, and waited patiently for the customers to show up.

9/5/2018 11:39:32 AM

Thank for this posting this. Although I knew all the while that marketing is very crucial I somehow could not bring my self to do it with planning and strategy. I'm motivated to do it now :)

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