On-farm marketing involves bringing people onto the farm to buy products. This strategy includes farm stands and stores, U-pick, and agri-tourism. Farm stands run the gamut from the back of a truck to an elaborate store. Many start out simple and become more substantial as the stand succeeds.
“The most successful on-farm markets appeal to their customers’ desire for convenience, quality, and community.”
The most successful on-farm markets appeal to their customers’ desire for convenience, quality, and community. Farm stands or stores located at high traffic locations will attract customers who are driving by on a regular basis, as well as tourists who are looking for a unique experience. It’s much simpler to stop by a stand while commuting to work or running errands than to plan a trip to the grocery store or spend your Saturday morning at the farmer’s market.
“You need to be open when the public wants to come…”
Customers are generally looking for fresh, high-quality products when they buy direct from the farm, instead of the mediocre stuff they get from grocery stores. They are especially attracted to limited-supply items like strawberries, apples, pecans, sweet corn or pumpkins. In addition, many want to have a relationship with the farmer. They want to hear the story of how the product came to life, and get tips on growing or cooking. Such details elevate the perception of quality and increase repeat sales.
- Time is saved as there is no travel to markets or packing to travel
- Farmer sets the terms – hours, price, units, amount
- Customers generally come to buy
- Customers build relationship with farm and farmer
- Opens opportunities for other activities such as tours or workshops
- No direct competition with other farmers
- Farmer can work between customers
- Attracting customers
- Need to be open when the public wants to come – weekends and holidays especially
- Potential customers may show up when you don’t want them
- Must have a building or stand to display produce
- Must have way to guide customers in field and harvesting (for U-pick operations)
- Farm must be kept neat and mowed
- Strangers coming onto farm property
- Farm must be close to population center or on easily accessible road with traffic
- Building or shelter for market
- Area for parking
- Accessibility from the road
- Liability insurance
- Adherence to regulations andlocal ordinances
- Public relations skills
- Customers like a clean facility with clean workers and washed produce
- Customers frequently request drinking fountain, rest rooms, picnic or recreation areas, and play areas for children
- Clearly mark access to the farm stand or U-pick fields, and have enough parking
- Always post prices and include information about the product such as variety
- Most customers shop at stands or stores in the morning
- Friday and Saturday are the most popular shopping days
- Weekends and holidays are best for U-pick
- Best located within 5-10 miles of a population center
Adapted from a presentation by Lynn Pugh and Fundamentals of Organic Farming and Gardening, Unit 7 Marketing and Certification, from Georgia Organics.
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Click below to hear an audio tip on U-picks from experienced farmer and marketer Lynn Pugh.
Click below to hear an audio tip on farm stores from experienced farmer and marketer Jon Taggert.