How to market a Startup 2018

how to conduct market research for a startup business and how to start up a market stall business 2018
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Published Date:03-07-2017
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Market Gardening: A Start Up Guide A Publication of ATTRA—National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service  1-800-346-9140 By Janet Bachmann Market gardening involves the intense production of high-value crops from just a few acres and gives NCAT Agriculture farmers the potential to increase their income. Market gardening is also of interest to people consider- Specialist ing agriculture as an alternative lifestyle. This publication provides an overview of issues you need to Updated May 2009 be aware of as you consider starting market gardening and suggests helpful resources. Contents Introduction ..................... 1 Business plan ................... 1 Choosing markets .......... 2 Learning production and marketing techniques ........................ 5 Selecting equipment ........................ 7 Planning and recordkeeping ................. 7 Labor ................................... 8 Food safety ....................... 8 Agricultural insurance ........................... 9 Organic market gardening ......................... 9 Grower profi les ............... 9 Peregrine Farms .......10 Beech Grove Farm ............................. 10 Harmony Valley Farm ............................. 11 Photo by Edwin Remsberg, USDA/CSREES. Thompson Farms .....12 References ...................... 13 Further resources ......... 13 Business plan Introduction Starting any business demands an invest- Market gardening is the commercial pro- ment of time and money. When you duction of vegetables, fruits, fl owers and ATTRA—National Sustainable invest in your own business, be it market other plants on a scale larger than a home Agriculture Information Service ( is managed gardening or something else, a business plan garden, yet small enough that many of the by the National Center for Appro- will help ensure success. Developing your principles of gardening are applicable. priate Technology (NCAT) and is funded under a grant from the business plan helps you defi ne your busi- The goal, as with all farm enterprises, is United States Department of ness, create a road map for operations, set to run the operation as a business and to Agriculture’s Rural Business- Cooperative Service. Visit the make a profi t. Market gardening is often goals, judge progress, make adjustments NCAT Web site ( oriented toward local markets, although and satisfy a lender’s request for a written sarc_current.php) for more information on production for shipping to more distant explanation of how a loan will be used. A our sustainable agri- markets is also possible. culture projects. basic business plan includes:What? Describe your product or service help eliminate wasted time, space, produce and money. Many market gardeners try to Why? Describe the need for your product maximize their income by selling directly to or service consumers and bypassing wholesalers and other middlemen. Tailgate markets, farm- Who? Describe your customer ers’ markets, roadside and on-farm stands, When? Draw a timeline and list all the tasks pick-your-own operations and subscription you need to accomplish marketing are common direct-marketing strategies. Sales to restaurants, institutions Where? Describe the location of your and schools and grocery stores are common business wholesale marketing strategies. More in- Related ATTRA How? Describe equipment, materials depth details are provided in other ATTRA Publications and supplies you will use in your publications. Most market gardeners use market garden and how you will Direct Marketing several outlets. Diversity in marketing, as fi nance your market garden well as diversity in planting, is a corner- Community-Supported stone of stability. Agriculture The 280-page publication Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Develop- Farmers’ Markets: If you choose a wholesale market, you ing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Marketing and will not be able to charge retail prices, Businesses is an excellent tool for business Business Guide but your labor cost for marketing may planning. Developed by the Minnesota Insti- be reduced. The case study summarized Entertainment tute for Sustainable Agriculture in St. Paul, below points out that price premiums at Farming and Minn., and co-published by the Sustainable Agri-Tourism farmers’ markets are not pure profi t and Agriculture Network, the book helps people less-costly wholesale marketing produced Postharvest involved with commercial alternative and the highest profi ts. Handling of Fruits sustainable agriculture create profitable and Vegetables businesses. The book contains sample and A California case study Resource Guide blank worksheets that help you learn how to to Organic When comparing markets, be sure to com- set goals, research processing alternatives, and Sustainable pare the costs as well as the returns. If you determine potential markets and evaluate Vegetable Production sell wholesale, you will not get the price pre- fi nancing options to create a business plan. miums expected at a farmers’ market, but Scheduling See the Further resources section at the your labor cost for marketing will be lower. Vegetable Plantings end of this publication for information on for Continuous A recent case study in California compared how to purchase this book. Harvest marketing costs of three farms selling by The book Sustainable Vegetable Produc- wholesale, community-supported agri- Season Extension culture and farmers’ market methods. All tion from Start-Up to Market, published in Techniques for three farms were well-established, diversi- 1999 by University of Vermont vegetable Market Gardeners fi ed organic growers in northern California. specialist Vernon Grubinger, has an outline Selling to Restaurants One farm was small, with 20 acres and two for a basic fi ve-part business plan. See the full-time employees; one medium, with 70 Specialty Cut Flower Further resources section for informa- acres and seven employees; and one larger, Production and tion on purchasing this book. The ATTRA with 240 acres and 30 employees. Marketing publication Agricultural Business Planning Labor was the highest marketing expense Templates and Resources lists additional for all the farms. At the small farm, labor was resources, primarily Web site links. You 77 percent of all marketing costs, ranging can access it at or call from 67 percent for wholesale marketing 1-800-346-9140 for a copy. methods to 82 percent for farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets generated the lowest net revenue return for all three growers, while Choosing markets wholesale provided the highest net return You need to develop a focused marketing for all. The study shows that price premi- plan before planting any crops. A market- ums at farmers’ markets are not pure profi t. (Hardesty, 2008). ing plan helps, but does not guarantee, that most of what you plant will be sold and can Market Gardening: A Start Up Guide Page 2 ATTRATailgate marketing. Photo courtesy of UM Food Services. Farmers’ Market. Photo by Jim Lukens. Tailgate marketing is one of the simplest forms of direct marketing. It involves park- purchase harvested crops. Innovative farm- ing a vehicle loaded with produce on a road ers have found that on-farm entertainment, or street with the hope that people will stop like animals to pet or pumpkins to carve, and purchase the produce. This is commonly can be profitable additions to on-farm used for selling in-season regional produce. markets. For these marketing methods, a This method takes very little investment and mower may be your most important piece of can be set up on short notice. Check with equipment since you will need to keep the your city government fi rst if you plan to set farm landscape neat to attract customers. up inside a city. Some cities have regulations See the ATTRA publication Entertainment governing transient vendors. Farming and Agri-Tourism for more informa- tion about on-farm selling. Farmers’ markets are an excellent place for a beginning market gardener to sell their Subscription marketing is a strategy that crop. Farmers’ markets do not demand that continues to gain interest and has benefi t- a vendor bring a consistent supply of high- ted by the use of the Internet. Community quality produce every market day, although supported agriculture (CSA) is one type that is the goal. If you have less-than-per- of subscription marketing that involves fect tomatoes, you may be able to sell them providing subscribers with a weekly as canners at a reduced price. A farmers’ basket of seasonal produce, flowers or market is a wonderful place to meet people and develop steady customers, which can lead to additional marketing channels. Dis- advantages include the need to spend time away from the farm and the possibility of having produce left over at the end of the market. The ATTRA publication Farm- ers’ Markets offers more information and resources about establishing, promoting and being successful at a farmers’ market. On-farm marketing strategies include road- side or farm stands and pick-your-own arrangements. On-farm marketing strategies are often successful because pick-your-own customers who come for the enjoyment of spending time in the fi eld will often also Farm stand. Photo by Maggie Hoback, courtesy of ATTRA Page 3Grocery and natural food stores may be one of the most diffi cult markets to break into for small-scale growers, but as inter- est in locally grown food increases, some stores are looking for ways to make this easier. If you want to sell to retailers, remember that they need consistently available and high-quality products. Have a sample of your product with you when you visit the store and know your selling price for the product. A number of farm-to-school programs across the country make schools and insti- tutions another market for small-scale grow- ers. Food service departments at schools across the country are joining forces with concerned parents, teachers, community activists and farmers to provide students Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Bivalve MD. Photo by Edwin Remsberg, with healthy meals while simultaneously USDA/CSREES. supporting small farmers in their region. livestock products. The subscribers pay at Check to see if a farm-to-school program the beginning of the season for part of or exists in your community. Healthy Farms, their entire share of the farmer’s planned Healthy Kids: Evaluating the Barriers and production. This eliminates the problem of Opportunities for Farm-to-School Programs, covering up-front production costs at the a campaign started by the Community Food beginning of the season and guarantees Security Coalition, examines seven farm- a market. The challenge for the grower to-school projects from around the country is to have a consistent and continuous and provides plenty of information to start supply of popular vegetables through- a farm-to-school program. See the Further out the growing season. It is helpful to resources section for information on how survey the customers or members about to fi nd the Healthy Farms, Healthy Kids pub- their preferences before planting. Refer to lication. Also useful is the ATTRA publi- ATTRA’s publication Community Supported cation Bringing Local Food to Local Institu- Agriculture for more information. tions: A Resource Guide for Farm-to-School and Farm-to-Institution Programs. Restaurants that are interested in serving fresh, locally grown produce can Market gardeners can use the Internet to be a good market. Chefs or restaurant transact business or distribute information owners are very busy people. Ask the about farms and products. How to Direct chefs what day and hour is the best time Market Farm Products on the Internet, to call to fi nd out what produce they need, a U.S. Department of Agriculture and then be consistent about calling at that Agricultural Marketing Service publica- time every week. You can also fi nd out tion, discusses what to consider before when to make deliveries. Chefs appreciate using the Internet as a marketing tool and the opportunity to tell you what they can provides examples of farmers’ experiences, use or would like to try. ATTRA’s Selling as well as links to more information. Using to Restaurants has more information about the Internet to Get Customers is available selling to chefs, as does Diane Green’s from the Southern Sustainable Agricul- Selling Produce to Restaurants: A Market- ture Working Group. See the Further ing Guide for Small Growers, which is listed resources section for information on how in the Further resources section. to fi nd these publications. Market Gardening: A Start Up Guide Page 4 ATTRALearning production and A green restaurant supplier marketing techniques Greentree Naturals, a certifi ed-organic farm in Sandpoint, Idaho, sup- Apprenticing with an experienced market plies a number of local restaurants. Diane Green and her husband, Thom gardener is one of the best ways to learn Sadoski, created to let people know about sound techniques. If that opportunity isn’t their products, workshops and projects. The Web site also gives Green available, you can attend workshops and and Sadoski a way to answer questions from other farmers. conferences, visit with other market grow- “We receive frequent requests asking us how to do what we do,” Green ers, read industry materials, watch videos explains. “ While on the one hand, we do not want to give away the and experiment. State fruit and vegetable hard-earned knowledge that we have learned about being successful grower organizations, sustainable agri- small-acreage growers, we feel it is very important that more people are exploring the possibilities of becoming farmers. We believe that our culture and organic grower groups and experience has value. We are proud of what we do.” regional and national organizations host conferences, trade shows, workshops and fi eld days where a wealth of information is shared. A few of these organizations, work- shops and educational materials are listed in the Further resources section. The Cooperative Extension System is an excellent source of bulletins on production basics for most crops. The service may be able to provide on-site consultation if you have production questions. Check calendars in trade magazines and the ATTRA online calendar at for conference postings. See ATTRA’s Web site,, for current publications on soil fertility management; season exten- sion techniques; organic production of spe- cifi c crops; postharvest handling; and insect those obstacles. The book discusses how pest, weed and disease management. much money you will need to start growing, how much money you can expect to earn, The books listed below are all highly rec- the best crops and markets, essential tools, ommended by those who have used them. how to keep records to maximize profi ts and Which one may be the most useful to you further resources. on a day-to-day basis depends on your scale of production. See the Further resources Eliot Coleman’s The New Organic Grower: section for ordering information. A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener is writ- Market Farming Success was written by ten for market gardeners with about 5 Lynn Byczynski, editor and publisher of the acres of land in vegetable crop production. journal Growing for Market. The advice in Coleman, an agriculture researcher, educa- this book comes from the personal experi- tor and farmer, describes techniques using ence of the author and her husband, Dan walking tractors, wheel hoes, multi-row Nagengast, as market growers in eastern dibble sticks and soil block transplants. The Kansas, as well as interviews with many sections on planning, crop rotations, green other growers around the country. The book manures, soil fertility, direct seeding and is intended to help those who are or want to transplants are inspiring. Coleman includes be in the business of growing and selling season extension techniques in this book food, fl owers, herbs or plants create a profi t- and authored additional books on this topic, able and effi cient business. Market Farming Success identifi es the key areas that usually including Four Season Harvest and The hamper beginners and shows how to avoid Winter Harvest Manual. ATTRA Page 5Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start- fi nal chapter profi les the experiences of 19 up to Market was written by Vern Grubinger, vegetable growers, focusing on individual crops, and provides each grower’s budget a vegetable and berry specialist for Univer- for these crops. sity of Vermont Extension and director of the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture. How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, The book is aimed at aspiring and begin- Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than ning farmers. The book introduces the full You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land range of processes for moderate-scale veg- Than You Can Imagine by John Jeavons etable production using ecological practices details biointensive gardening techniques. that minimize the need for synthetic inputs The book emphasizes the use of hand tools, and maximize conservation of resources. raised bed production, intensive spacing, The book provides practical information on companion planting and organic fertil- essential matters like selecting a farm site; ity management. The planning charts are planning and recordkeeping; marketing aimed at helping families provide for their options; and systems for starting, planting, own food needs, but can be adapted for use protecting and harvesting crops. The book’s by market gardeners as well. Table 1. Estimated equipment needs for various sizes of vegetable farms. Power Post- Seed Direct Scale source and Equipment Cultivation Harvesting harvest Delivery seeding starting tillage handling small hoop rototiller Earthway Back-pack, Wheel Field knives, Bulk tank, Pickup with 1-3 house, grow or walking seeder, sprayer, hoe, hand hand boxes, canopy, topper or acres lights, plant- tractor, Cyclone irrigation, hoes, dig- buckets, packing van ing trays custom seeder tools ging forks, carts containers work spades 1,000 sq. ft., 35-40 hp Planet Jr. 1-row Cultivating Potato Roller track Cargo van 4-6 greenhouse, tractor, with plate seeder trans- tractor digger, conveyor, acres cold frames, creeper planter, (IH Super A bed lifter, hand carts, fi eld tun- gear, power irrigation, or IH 140) wagon, walk-in nels, plant- steering, more tools more boxes, cooler ing trays high buckets clearance Additional 40-60 hp Stanhay 2-row Tool bar More fi eld Barrel 1 ton truck 7-10 cold frames, tractor, precision trans- implements: crates washer, with refrig- acres planting chisel plow, belt seeder planter, beet knives, spinner, eration trays spader with belts sprayer basket pallet jack weeder 2,000 sq. ft. 80 hp Nibex or Irrigation, Sweeps Asa lift, Wash line, Refrigerated 20 + greenhouse tractor Monosem bed shaper, (Besserides), harvest larger truck acres with loader seeder mulch layer Buddingh wagon cooler, bucket fi nger packing and forks, weed- shed and compost ers, fl ame loading spreader weeder, dock potato hiller, 2nd cultivating tractor Adapted from a table distributed at Michael Fields Institute Advanced Organic Vegetable Production Workshop, 2/2001, Jeff erson City, MO. Market Gardening: A Start Up Guide Page 6 ATTRAexplains how to set up a drip system. Your Selecting equipment local extension offi ce can supply detailed Table 1 (on the previous page) is adapted bulletins. An irrigation specialist who will from a chart distributed to participants at work with you to design a system to meet an Advanced Organic Vegetable Produc- your needs is also helpful. tion Workshop sponsored by the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute. The chart pro- Planning and recordkeeping vides an estimate of equipment needs for market gardens of various sizes. The pub- Recordkeeping may be one of the most dif- lication Grower to grower: Creating a live- fi cult tasks for market gardeners, but good lihood on a fresh market vegetable farm records are critical if you want to know also provides information on equipment which crops are profi table. Market garden- options for different sizes of farms (Hen- ers need records to fi ne-tune planting, culti- drikson, 2005). Please keep in mind that vation, pest management and harvest sched- your own needs will differ. You may be able ules. Records help answer questions about to adapt machinery that you already have labor, equipment and capital needs, and are or you may be able to buy used machin- valuable when developing business plans. ery. If you are just starting out with a small Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm in Graham, amount of land, it may be more econom- N.C., keeps extensive records. The records ical to purchase transplants than to build include planned and actual data for what a greenhouse and grow your own. It may crops he plants, where crops are planted in make sense to have primary tillage done the fi eld and when Hitt plants the crops. He by someone with a large tractor rather than keeps a harvest record and a crop rotation purchase a tractor for this purpose. record. Hitt tallies the produce he brings Depending on your location and choice of to farmers’ markets, charts selling prices crops, irrigation is a must for consistent and notes what doesn’t sell. In addition, he and high-quality production, even on a keeps track of farm expenses and income scale of less than an acre. Drip or trickle irrigation is becoming the method of choice Table 2. Peregrine Farm 10-year rotation for many fruit, vegetable and fl ower grow- ers. Grubinger’s book provides a summary Spring Summer Fall of overhead sprinkle and drip or trickle Year 1 Tomatoes & leeks Oats with irrigation systems. Byczynski’s book also (half no-till) crimson clover Year 2 Cool season Sudangrass with Oats with fl owers soybeans crimson clover Tools of the trade Year 3 Spring lettuce Summer fl owers Rye with hairy It is possible to operate a market garden of less vetch than an acre with little more than a shovel, rake, hoe and garden hose. However, most serious Year 4 No-till squash Fall-planted market gardeners acquire labor-saving tools fl owers such as walk-behind rototillers, mowers, small Year 5 Over-wintered Sudangrass with Rye with hairy greenhouses and small refrigerator units. Some fl owers soybeans vetch growers, especially those farming more than Year 6 Peppers Wheat with an acre, use small tractors with a limited array (half no-till) crimson clover of implements. Year 7 Summer fl owers Oats with Experienced market gardeners advise begin- crimson clover ning growers to fi rst purchase equipment that will support the back end of their operations. Year 8 Mixed spring Cowpeas Fall-planted A small walk-in cooler to maintain high prod- vegetables fl owers uct quality or an irrigation system to assure Year 9 Over-wintered Sudangrass Oats with consistent yields and quality might be more fl owers with soybeans crimson clover important early purchases than a tractor (Hen- Year 10 Summer fl owers Wheat with drickson, 2005). hairy vetch ATTRA Page 7and records daily activities, including time Separate task sheets list supplies needed for spent on each farm task. A sample planting each task. For example, if fl oating row covers record is included on a CD titled Organic need to be laid, the task sheet will include shovels, markers and marking pens. Vegetable Production and Marketing in the South with Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm, pro- Harmony Valley Farm commits to providing duced by the Southern Sustainable Agri- full-time jobs. A list of rainy day tasks and culture Working Group. See the Further extra chores is on hand to ensure that employ- resources section for ordering information. ees always have something useful to do. DeWilde emphasizes that it is important for Labor employers to be knowledgeable about govern- The size of your operation and the crops, ment regulations, including fi eld sanitation, markets, and equipment you choose will drinking water, worker protection and safety determine the amount of labor needed. Two regulations. A resource for learning about of the growers profi led in this publication government regulations is Neil D. Hamilton’s have decided that they do not want to hire The Legal Guide for Direct Farm Marketing. outside help and planned their production The book includes a chapter on labor and and marketing accordingly. ast records employment. See the Further resources section for ordering information. show how Many market gardeners, however, will need Plong it help. In an advanced organic vegetable pro- Food safety duction workshop offered by the Michael should take to Fields Agricultural Institute, Richard Changing lifestyles and a growing inter- do each task. DeWilde of Harmony Valley Farm explains est among consumers in fresh, nutritious This information how to manage labor so crews will be happy food has created an increase in produce is critical for and productive. DeWilde’s operation is one consumption. Along with this increase, determining described in the grower profi les at the end there has been an increase in the number assignments. of this publication. of food-borne illness outbreaks associated with fresh fruits and vegetables. An occur- DeWilde emphasizes that it is important to rence can cause irreparable damage to a be clear about your employee expectations business, both legally and from the negative and operating procedures. He does this by effects on its reputation (Cuellar, 2001). meeting regularly with his employees and Currently, there are no mandatory rules for using an employee manual. An employee the safe growing and packing of fruits and manual details farm standards and expecta- vegetables, except for those regulating water tions. For example, it might tell people what and pesticide residues under the surveillance to do with trash and include a Friday night of the Environmental Protection Agency. checklist to ensure that supplies and equip- In 1998, however, the EPA published the ment are properly stored at the end of the Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety week. Employees do not work on Saturday Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, or Sunday. comprising a set of Good Agricultural Prac- On Monday morning DeWilde meets with his tices. Although the practices are optional, crew in the packing shed. He makes the day many growers incorporate them into their and week manageable by writing down all operations. Extension offi ces in a number that needs to be accomplished on two dry of states provide bulletins outlining safe erase boards. One board provides informa- growing and packing practices. Cornell Uni- tion about tasks planned for the entire week. versity compiled a number of educational On the other board, De Wilde posts tasks materials in English and other languages. for the day with assignments for who will The National GAPs Education Materials do each task. Past records show how long it can be found at the Web site www.gaps. should take to do each task. This information Kan- is critical for determining assignments. sas State University published FoodASyst, a Market Gardening: A Start Up Guide Page 8 ATTRAhandbook to help address food safety and Publications/AgBusinessInsurPM7.pdf or see environmental concerns. You can fi nd the the Further resources section for infor- third chapter, Growing Vegetables, Fruits mation on obtaining a print copy. and Produce, online at A very readable discussion on insurance is library/fntr2/foodasyst/foodasys.pdf. The in Lynn Byczynski’s Market Farming Success. University of California’s Good Agricul- She advises that your best bet in fi nding what tural Practices: A Self Audit for Growers and you need is to sit down with an independent Handlers is online at agent and explain your business thoroughly. fi les/fi lelibrary/5453/4362.pdf. Another excellent resource on this issue is Neil Hamilton’s The Legal Guide for Direct Agricultural insurance Farm Marketing. Both books are listed in the According to the Washington State Depart- Further resources section. ment of Agriculture, insurance is one of the most overlooked pieces of running a farm Organic market gardening business. In today’s litigious culture, it is Some market gardeners grow their crops wise to have adequate coverage for all your organically. The motivations vary. Some farm activities. Insurance coverage is avail- n today’s market gardeners think it is the socially able for nearly any activity on your farm, and environmentally responsible thing litigious culture, but the cost of coverage may not be eco- to do. Some are motivated by economic Iit is wise to have nomically viable. Shop around for the insur- benefi ts. Organically grown produce typi- ance that best suits your needs and balance adequate coverage cally commands higher prices in the mar- the coverage into your farm business plan. for all your farm ketplace. Growers who sell through CSAs or activities. If your farming operation is very small, you use other forms of relationship marketing may be able to simply add coverage to your sometimes fi nd that their customers expect homeowner’s policy. Larger operations may and demand organic produce. There is a require a farm policy that includes prop- long history that equates organic farming erty coverage as well as liability coverage with fresh, whole foods. for physical injury and ingested food prod- The production and marketing of organic ucts. A farm policy can also cover a road- foods is subject to federal regulation. side stand whether or not it is on your prop- Organic production is defi ned in legal terms erty and may be extended by endorsement and use of the term organic is controlled. to cover a farmers’ market stand. Farms You must be certified by the USDA to that process foods or sell primarily fl owers market your products as organic unless or other non-edibles may require a commer- your annual sales of organic products are cial general liability policy (WSDA, 2006). less than 5,000. ATTRA has numerous Visit the Washington State Department publications that address organic matters. of Agriculture Web site at http://agr. See ATTRA’s Guide to Organic Publications for more information. Risk_Management.htmInsurance for more information. Grower profi les The Pennsylvania State University To give you additional ideas and inspiration, bulletin Agricultural Business Insurance several market gardeners from different discusses the different types of insurance parts of the United States agreed to share you should consider as part of your risk information about their operations. Alex management strategy. Agricultural busi- and Betsy Hitt are featured in the Sustain- ness insurances include general liability, able Agriculture Network publication Build- product liability, business property, work- ing Soils for Better Crops, 2nd Ed. and The ers compensation, vehicle and crop insur- New American Farmer. Richard DeWilde ance and more. The bulletin is available and Linda Halley are also featured in The online at New American Farmer. ATTRA Page 9It is interesting to note that although each their location near Chapel Hill, home to operation is unique, all have a number of the University of North Carolina. More things in common. These include: unusual produce like leafy greens, leeks and rapini fi nd a home in restaurants, and • Diversity of crops sell well alongside their most profi table let- tuce, tomato, pepper and fl ower crops at • Diversity of marketing strategies area farmers’ markets. • Cover crops grown for soil building A year in the Hitts’ rotation may include a • Detailed recordkeeping systems cool-season cash crop and a summer cover crop like soybeans and sudangrass followed • Willingness to share knowledge and by a fall cash crop and then a winter cover. ideas with others “We have made a conscious decision in our Peregrine Farm, Alex and Betsy rotation design to always have cover crops,” Alex Hitt said. “We have to. It’s the primary Hitt, Graham, N.C. source for all of our fertility. If we can, we’ll Alex and Betsy Hitt began market gar- have two covers on the same piece of ground dening on their 26-acre farm near Chapel he Hitts in the same year.” Hill, N.C. almost 20 years ago. They grow created organic vegetables and specialty cut fl owers While other farmers grow beans, corn T an elabo- on 5 acres and have a quarter of an acre or another profitable annual vegetable rate rotation that in highbush blueberries. The Hitts sell pri- in the summer after a spring crop, the includes both winter marily to local farmers’ markets, but have Hitts don’t hesitate to take the land out of also sold to restaurants and stores. and summer cover production. Instead, Alex Hitt said, their commitment to building organic matter crops to supply “Our original goals,” Alex Hitt said, “were in the soil yields important payoffs. The organic matter and to make a living on this piece of ground farm remains essentially free of soilborne while taking the best care of it that we nitrogen, prevent diseases, which they attribute to “so much could.” For the Hitts, making a living doing erosion and crowd competition and diversity” in the soil. And, work they enjoy and fi nding a scale that out weeds. despite farming on a 5-percent slope, they allows them to do most of it themselves are see little or no erosion. key aspects of sustainability. Their crop mix and markets have changed over the years, The Hitt’s 10-year rotation plan is on as they continue to evaluate the success page 7. You can learn more with the of each operation and its place within the CD Organic Vegetable Production and whole system. Marketing in the South with Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm, available from the Southern When the horse stable down the road went Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. out of business, it forced the Hitts to re- See the Further resources section for evaluate their farm fertility program. With- ordering information. out this source of free manure, the Hitts created an elaborate rotation that includes Beech Grove Farm, Ann and both winter and summer cover crops to sup- ply organic matter and nitrogen, prevent Eric Nordell, Trout Run, Pa. erosion and crowd out weeds. Neither Ann nor Eric grew up on a farm, but both gained experiences on other farms “We designed a rotation so that cover crops during and after college before they bought play a clear role,” Hitt said. “Many times, where other growers might say, ‘I need to Beech Grove Farm, their small farm near grow a cash crop,’ we’ll grow a cover crop Trout Run, Pa. In this area with steep, rug- anyway.” ged terrain and a relatively short growing season, they had three goals: The farm stays profi table thanks to a mar- keting plan that takes full advantage of • Remain debt-free Market Gardening: A Start Up Guide Page 10 ATTRA• Keep the farm a two-person management publication, Weed the Soil Not operation the Crop, available for 10 plus 3 ship- ping and handling. Order these directly • Depend on the internal resources from them at 3410 Rt. 184, Trout Run, PA of the farm as much as possible. 17771. You can read more at www.newfarm. Of the 90 acres on the farm, 30 are wooded. org/features/1204/nordell/index.shtml. Six are cultivated for the market garden. The remainder, excluding the homestead Harmony Valley Farm, and house garden, is left in pasture. They Richard DeWilde and use draft horses and low-cost implements Linda Halley, Viroqua, Wis. for cultivation and tillage and have the 6- acre plot divided into half-acre strips of 20 Richard DeWilde has farmed for most of yards by 120 yards, which the Nordells fi nd his life. He moved to Harmony Valley Farm to be a good size for working with horses in 1984 after his farm in Minnesota was and by hand. paved over by urban sprawl. Linda joined him there in 1990. The DeWildes grow veg- Because the farm is distant from major etables, fruits and herbs on 70 acres and markets, the Nordells fi rst chose crops that have pasture, hay and a few Angus steers CSA market can be sold wholesale, like fl owers and on 220 acres. They sell produce whole- medicinal herbs for drying and root vege- demands a sale at the Dane County Farmers’ Market in tables. As the couple became known in the Atremendous Madison, and through a 500-member CSA. area, they were approached by restaurant diversity of crops. DeWilde handles this scale of operation by buyers to supply cool-season and specialty hiring labor, becoming highly mechanized items. By 1998, they were selling to 10 and through careful management. fi ne restaurants in the area and at the Wil- liamsport farmers’ market. Income from DeWilde notes that his wholesale markets wholesale markets is now only 10 percent have been the most profi table, and CSA of their total income. the least. The time needed for management makes the difference. The wholesale mar- For the Nordells, as for all market garden- ket is the least diverse. The moneymaking ers, weeds presented a major challenge. crops are turnips and daikon radishes. A They adapted a traditional fi eld crop rota- CSA market demands a tremendous diver- tion system of corn, oats, wheat, grass sity of crops and a complexity of manage- and legume sod used in the Midwest and ment needed for market. Pennsylvania to a rotation that includes vegetables, cover crops and a summer Soil building is done with cover crops, fallow. The half-acre strips are managed so compost and additional micronutrients as that 3 acres are in crops and 3 acres are needed. Favored cover crops are sweet clo- in fallow or cover crops. Over the years, ver, vetch, rye, oats and peas. Seeds for the Nordells reduced the fallow period to these are available locally and are reason- six weeks or less as the weed population ably priced. The residue is chopped into the has diminished. top 1 or 2 inches of soil with a rotovator. The Nordells offer a video of a slide presen- DeWilde and Halley have experimented tation made at the 1996 Pennsylvania Asso- with many ingredients for making compost ciation for Sustainable Agriculture Confer- and have been pleased with dairy manure ence that explains their controlled rotational and cornstalks, which are readily avail- cover cropping in the bio-extensive market able and have a good carbon-to-nitrogen garden system. The Nordells also collected ratio. The compost is made in windrows, copies of the articles they’ve written about turned with an old wildcat turner pulled by an International tractor equipped with a rotation, cultivation, growing onions, using pigs to turn compost, designing a barn for hydrostatic drive so that it can move slowly. Finished compost is spread on fi elds at a animals and for compost production and more. The Nordells also have a new weed rate of 10 to 15 tons per acre. ATTRA Page 11One strategy for insect pest management After Thompson started working on the on Harmony Valley Farm is to provide per- 140-acre farm, he quickly learned that sell- manent habitat for natural predators and ing to canneries failed to cover production parasites. Refuge strips in the fi elds are expenses. The family opened their farm to made up of plants that attract and harbor the local suburban community. Thompson started offering pick-your-own berries and benefi cial insects and birds. A number of selling the fruit at a stand he built at the these plants can also be cut and sold as farm. Strawberry sales were so strong that fl owers or woody ornamentals. Thompson decided to plant new varieties to Richard says his goal is “to develop an extend the season. organic farming curriculum, complete The Thompsons soon attracted a loyal with slides. My time and focus could be following, primarily from Portland, which is put into a Harmony Valley Farm operating 20 miles away. The family started selling manual. It would deal with communica- at area farmers’ markets, too. The family tion, employee training and recordkeeping. and 23 employees raise 43 crops and sell Who knows? Maybe I would retire and do them at six markets and two farm stands training seminars.” and through on-farm activities. For Thomp- hompson Halley adds, “We really do have clear fam- son, profi tability means that each year he makes sure ily goals: to continue to learn new ways to earns more money than he spends. “I reach The earns a do things on the farm and communicate that level consistently,” he said. those things.” profi t. He calculates Thompson makes sure he earns a profi t. He the cost of planting, calculates the cost of planting, raising and Thompson Farms, raising and harvest- harvesting each crop, and then charges his Larry Thompson, Boring, Ore. ing each crop, customers double that. His most profi table and then charges Oregon farmer Larry Thompson has a crop is strawberries. Retaining different mar- long history of using innovative, sustain- his customers keting channels gives Thompson a chance able practices to grow his array of berries to cross-promote. double that. and vegetables. He also works closely with Thompson is a dedicated advocate of the fast-growing community of Damascus crop rotations and planting a succession to develop policies that help farmers hold of fl owering species to control pests with- onto their operations as urban boundaries out pesticides. He relies on cover crops grow around them. Thompson Farms has to control weeds and provide habitat 140 acres in strawberries, raspberries, for benefi cial insects. Thompson allows cauliflower, broccoli and other crops. native grasses and dandelions to grow Produce is sold at farmers’ markets and between his berry rows. The dandelion farm stands; one in a new location just blossoms attract bees, which are effi cient outside a hospital where patients, nurses berry pollinators. The mixed vegetation and staff benefi t from his healthy fruits provides an alluring habitat that, along and vegetables. with fl owering fruit and vegetable plants, Thompson’s parents, Victor and Betty, draws insects that prey on pests. Late in began raising raspberries, strawberries the year, Thompson doesn’t mow broc- and broccoli in the rolling hills southeast of coli stubble. Instead, he lets side shoots Portland in 1947. Thompson’s parents sold bloom, creating a long-term nectar source their produce to local processors, where for bees into early winter. Thompson agents for canneries always set the purchase Farms sits on erodible soils and runoff price. In 1983, Thompson took over oper- used to be a major problem. But thanks to ating the farm and sought more profi table the cover crops and other soil cover, now places to sell his produce. virtually no soil leaves the farm. Market Gardening: A Start Up Guide Page 12 ATTRAThompson won the Sustainable Agriculture off his holistic pest management strategies and bounty of colorful crops. As a result, Research and Education’s 2008 Patrick the farm attracts people by the busload for Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture. educational seasonal events. Many call him a pro at relationship market- ing, or forming bonds with customers who “Instead of seeing my farm as a secluded see a value in local produce raised with few hideaway, I am getting the community chemicals. Thompson regularly offers tours involved, bringing them to see our prin- to students, other farmers, researchers and ciples in action,” Thompson said (USDA visiting international delegations to show CSREES, 2008). Further resources References Cuellar, Sandra. 2001. Assuring produce safety: A Books key industry marketing strategy. Small Fruit News of Corum, Vance et al. 2001. The New Farmer’s Market: Central New York. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Farm-Fresh Ideas for Producers, Managers and Oswego County. November. p. 3-5. Communities. New World Publishing. 272 p. Available for 24.95 plus 3.95 shipping and Hardesty, Shermain. 2008. Case study compares handling from: marketing costs of farms selling wholesale, CSA, and SAN Publications farmers market. Small Farm News. p. 4. Hills Building, Room 10 Hendrickson, John. 2005. Grower to Grower: University of Vermont Creating a Livelihood on a Fresh Market Vegetable Burlington, VT 05405-0082 Farm. CIAS, University of Wisconsin-Madison. p. 7. (802) 656-0484 U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Covers the latest tips and trends from leading sellers, Research, Education and Extension Service Web site. managers and market planners all over the country, 2008. Larry Thompson - Boring, Oregon. Accessed including the hottest products to grow and sell as well April 2009. as how best to display and merchandise your products, set prices and run a friendly, profi table business. The ag_if _profi les_thompson.html second half of the book, written for market managers Washington State Department of Agriculture Web site. and city planners, offers ideas about how to use 2006. Insurance and Risk Management. Accessed farmers’ markets as a springboard to foster community April 2009. support for sustainable and locally grown foods. Insurance_Risk_Management.aspxInsurance List of additional resources. ATTRA Page 13Hamilton, Neil D. 1999. The Legal Guide to Direct Coleman, Eliot. 1998. The Winter Harvest Manual. Farm Marketing. Drake University. 235 p. To request 63 p. Available for 15, including postage, from: Four Seasons Farm a copy, contact: 609 Weir Cove Road Karla Westberg Harborside, ME 04642 (515) 271-2947 A supplement to The New Organic Grower, this man- ual records recent experience in planning, carrying out Covers questions about liability, insurance coverage, and fi ne tuning a fresh vegetable production and labor laws, advertising claims, zoning, pesticide drift, marketing operation on the back side of the calendar. inspections and food safely issues. Grubinger, Vernon. 1999. Sustainable Vegetable Produc- Green, Diane. 2005. Selling Produce to Restau- tion from Start-Up to Market. NRAES-104. 270 p. Avail- rants: A Marketing Guide for Small Growers. 95 p. able for 38 plus 6 for shipping and handling from: NRAES, Cooperative Extension 152 Riley-Robb Hall Available for 12.95 plus 3.95 Ithaca, NY 14853-5701 shipping from: (607) 255-7654 Greentree Naturals (607) 254-8770 FAX 2003 Rapid Lightning Road Sandpoint, ID 83864 (208) 263-8957 Jeavons, John. 2002. How to Grow More Vegetables, The author is a certifi ed organic grower in Idaho who markets through restaurants, CSA subscriptions and a 6th ed. Ten Speed Press. 276 p. farmers’ market. Magdoff, Fred and H. van Es. 2000. Building Soils for Better Crops 2nd ed. Available for 19.95 plus DiGiacomo, Gigi, Robert King, and Dale Nordquist. 3.95 shipping and handling from: 2003. Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to SAN Publications Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural PO Box 753 Businesses. Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Waldorf, MD 20604-0753 Agriculture. 280 p. Printed copies are available for (301) 374-9696 14 plus 3.95 shipping and handling from: SAN Publications Hills Building, Room 10 You can also download a free copy at University of Vermont publications/bsbc/bsbc.pdf. Burlington, VT 05405-0082 Valerie Berton, editor. 2005. The New American (802) 656-0484 Farmer. 200 p. Available for 16.95 plus 5.95 shipping and handling from: You can also download the publication from www.sare. Sustainable Agriculture Network org/publications/business/business.pdf. 10300 Baltimore Ave., Bldg. 046 Byczynski, Lynn. 2006. Market Farming Success. Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 Fairplain Publications, Lawrence, KS. 138 p. (301) 504-5236 Available from: (301) 504-5207 FAX Growing for Market PO Box 3747 You can also download a free copy at www.nrcs.usda. Lawrence, KS 66046 gov/NEWS/thisweek/2005/062205/susag18.html. 1-800-307-8949 Bulletins or reports Coleman, Eliot. 1995. The New Organic Growers: Azuma, Andrea Misako and Andrew Fisher. 2001. A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Healthy Farms, Healthy Kids. CFS Coalition. 64 p. Home and Market Gardener, 2nd ed. Chelsea Green Available for 12 plus 4 shipping and handling from: Publishing Company. 340 p. Community Food Security Coalition Page 14 ATTRA Market Gardening: A Start Up GuidePO Box 209 Small Farm News Venice, CA 90294 Now available online or from: (310) 822-5410 Small Farm Center asfi University of California One Shields Ave. This report documents the barriers and opportunities Davis, CA 95616-8699 (530) 752-8136 for school food services to purchase food directly from local farmers. Case studies and policy recommenda- tions are included. The 12-page Small Farm News is published four times Klotz, Jennifer-Claire. 2002. How to Direct Market per year. It features farmer and farm advisor pro- Farm Products on the Internet. USDA Agricultural fi les, research articles, farm-related print and web Marketing Service. 50 p. For a copy, contact: site resources, news items, and a calendar of state, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service national, and international events. The newsletter is Transportation and Marketing Programs free. However, contributions to help defray expenses are Marketing Services Division encouraged. Many past newsletters contained articles 1400 Independence Ave., S.W. on marketing produce and crafts. Room 2646-South Washington, DC 20250 Other SFC publications of possible interest include (202) 690-0031 Small Farm Handbook, a guide for people interested in operating a successful small farm; Production Practices and Sample Costs, Chili Pepper, Eggplant, Newenhouse, Astrid et al. 1998–2001. Work Lettuce, and Okra. These and more are available for Effi ciency Tip Sheets. University of Wisconsin. free online or 4 each for printed version. Available from: Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profi ts Project The Packer Biological Systems Engineering, Target audience is primarily large-scale produce UW-Madison growers and wholesalers. 460 Henry Mall Subscription rates are 79 per year. The Packer is Madison, WI 53706 available online in both English and Spanish from: Vance Publishing Corp. A series of tip sheets on labor effi ciency for vegetable PO Box 1415 and berry growers. 400 Knightsbridge Pkwy. Lincolnshire, IL 60069 (847) 634-2600 Periodicals Growing for Market American Vegetable Grower Subscriptions are available from: Available from: PO Box 3747 Meister Media Lawrence, KS 66046 37733 Euclid Ave. 1-800-307-8949 Willoughby, OH 44094-5992 1-800-572-7740 Growing for Market is published 10 times per year. It covers growing and direct marketing vegetables, fruits, herbs, cut fl owers and plants, farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture, the local food Monthly publication featuring production and movement, organic growing, cut fl owers, and much marketing information. Annual Sourcebook provides more. Print subscriptions are 33 per year, or information on state vegetable grower organizations. Also information about equipment and supplies. Print 2 years for 60. It is also available electronically. ATTRA Page 15or online. Free to qualifi ed growers and consultants. strengthen alliances and celebrate the achievements of Meister also publishes American Fruit Grower. Southern sustainable farmers. Southern SAWG’s video series titled Natural Farming Systems in the South provides an easy, economical Agencies, associations and organizations way to take a virtual tour of some highly successful North American Direct Marketing Association farming operations in the region. Organic vegetables 62 White Loaf Road and cut fl owers are among the enterprises covered. Southhampton, MA 01073 1-888-884-9270 Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems 1535 Observatory Drive UW-Madison Madison, WI 53706 NAFDMA is a 501(c)6 trade association whose mem- Contact: bers include farmers, farmers’ market managers, exten- John Hendrickson sion agents, industry suppliers, government offi cials (608) 265-3704 and others involved with agritourism, on-farm retail, farmers’ markets, pick-your-own, consumer-supported agriculture and direct delivery. The organization hosts Wisconsin School for Beginning Market Growers is an an annual conference and trade show. intensive three-day course held in January or February. The course demonstrates what it takes to set up and Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers run a successful market garden or small farm, includ- MPO Box 268 ing capital, management, labor and other resources. 17 ½ College St. Topics include soil fertility, crop production, plant Oberlin, OH 44074 health and pest management, cover crops, equipment (440) 774-2887 needs and labor considerations at different scales of operation and marketing and economics. The course is taught primarily by three growers whose farms vary in Formed in 1988, the essential goal of ASCFG is to scale, cropping mix, marketing strategies and growing help growers of specialty cut fl owers produce a bet- methods. It includes presentations and hands-on labs by ter crop. The ASCFG hosts an annual conference and University of Wisconsin faculty and other specialists. trade show, regional workshops, coordinates new vari- ety trials and publishes the Cut Flower Quarterly. Its Michael Fields Institute members share information based on their fi eld and W2493 County Rd ES marketing experience through a Bulletin Board. PO Box 990 East Troy, WI 53120 Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (262) 642-3303 (Southern SAWG) http://michaelfi PO Box 1552 Michael Fields Agricultural Institute offers courses of Fayetteville, AR 72702 benefi t to people who want to become farmers and those (479) 251-8310 who have been farming for many years. They are also creating opportunities for consumers to enter into farm life through cooking, gardening and farm tours. These This association of organizations and individuals include interactive workshops and on-site fi eld trainings. from 13 Southern states holds the Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference, an Videos and CDs annual January event that provides a forum to learn From Vern Grubinger, about sustainable farming techniques and marketing University of Vermont Extension strategies, community food systems and federal farm Farmers and Their Diversifi ed Horticultural policies and programs that promote sustainable agri- Marketing Strategies culture. This event also provides producers, researchers, Farmers and Their Innovative Cover Cropping Techniques information providers, concerned consumers and community organizers the opportunity to build networks, Vegetable Farmers and Their Weed-Control Machines Page 16 ATTRA Market Gardening: A Start Up GuideFarmers and Their Ecological Sweet Corn Beech Grove Farm Production Practices 3410 Route 184 Trout Run, PA 17771 High Tunnels (DVD only) A 52-minute video of a slide presentation by the Farmers and Their Sustainable Tillage Practices Nordells at the PASA conference. (DVD only) Available as DVDs at 15 each or VHS at 5 each, Kaplan, Dan. No date. Crop Planning and Record including shipping, from: Keeping with MS Excel. Center for Sustainable Agriculture Brookfi eld Farm University of Vermont PO Box 227 106 High Point Center, Suite 300 Amherst, MA 01002 Colchester, VT 05446 (413) 253-7991 (802) 656-5459 infobrookfi www.brookfi Disks with the spreadsheet templates can be obtained These videos were produced by Vern Grubinger, by sending a check for 25 made out to Brookfi eld University of Vermont Extension, and feature vegetable Farm with your name, address, phone number and growers in the Northeast. what version of Excel you will be using. The fi le will be sent as an e-mail attachment or can be sent on disk From Southern Sustainable Agriculture via regular mail. Working Group Order SAWG videos from: Rosenzweig, Marcie. No date. Market Farm Forms: Southern SAWG Spreadsheet Templates for Planning and Organization PO Box 1552 Information on Diversifi ed Farms. Available from: Fayetteville, AR 72702 Back40Books (479) 251-8310 Mail Order Department Nature’s Pace Sanctuary Hartshorn, MO 65479 Hitt, Alex. 2007. Organic Vegetable Production & 1-866-596-9982 Marketing in the South with Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farm. A 95-page book and a disk containing Excel spread- This Windows-only CD-ROM resource grew out of sheet templates available in PC or Macintosh formats. presentations made by Hitt at Southern SAWG conferences. The presentations follow Alex and Betsy Internet Hitt’s system from the start to marketing, including soil building, planning, crop rotation, pest management, Market Farming list serve recordkeeping and more. Available for 15 plus 7.50 shipping. Organic Horticulture & Marketing: A discussion group that covers tools and equipment, Maple Springs Garden markets, production practices, labor, and more. Organic Horticulture & Marketing: Au Naturel Farm Business plans Cut Flower Production and Marketing: Dripping Springs Garden Developing a Business Plan. 2004. Agriculture Alterna- The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group’s tives. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Agri- video series titled Natural Farming Systems in the South cultural Research and Cooperative Extension. presents virtual tours of many types of farming operations in the region, including the three listed above. Available DevelopBusPlanPM7.pdf as DVDs or VHS for 15 each plus 7.50 shipping. Building a Plan for Your Farm: Important First Steps. 2003. Jones, Rodney. Presented at the 2003 Risk and Nordell, Anne and Eric. 1996. Profi t Summer Conference. Available for 10 by writing to: Anne and Eric Nordell mgt/planning/Building_a_Plan_ for_Your_Farm.pdf ATTRA Page 17Notes Page 18 ATTRA Market Gardening: A Start Up GuideNotes ATTRA Page 19Market Gardening: A Start Up Guide By Janet Bachmann NCAT Agriculture Specialist Updated May 2009 Holly Michels, Editor Amy Smith, Production This publication is available on the Web at: or IP195 Slot 201 Version 062409 Page 20 ATTRA

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