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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

The Value of What You Grow

The Value of What You Grow

The Value of What You Grow

by M. Sakran of Porter, TX
www.msakran.com

It’s a beautiful morning in September. It’s a little cool, but starting to warm. The sky looks clear, and there’s a breeze. You woke up early that morning and loaded the truck. Box after box of beautiful produce. The colors were deep, they seemed to glow, and there was a scent that you just couldn’t describe.

You’re standing there now, at your farmer’s market booth. Baskets of beautiful pears, peaches, zucchini and squash are laid out. Your little hand painted signs clearly display the prices for each kind of produce and each size of basket.

People come and go. You have conversations with regulars and meet new people. Everyone is delighted by what you have for sale.

But then someone comes up. You haven’t seen them before. Maybe they’ve never been to a farmer’s market. They stop, at a distance from your booth, and look at what you have. Maybe they go by a few times. They get a little closer and pause for a moment. Something is wrong though. As they stand and look, they look at you with questioning eyes and say, “I know all this looks great, but I can get pears for half as much at the grocery store in town. Peaches too. Plus the zucchini’s on sale. This all looks good, but why should I pay twice as much for what you have?”

This has probably happened before. Maybe more than a few times. It’s a legitimate question. People want value in what they buy. It’s a very reasonable thing.

When this question is asked, you are probably flooded with answers. You know intuitively why what you sell is not like what they can get at the store. You know it is worth the price because you know what it is, where it came from and what it took to grow it. You are standing there, overwhelmed, because you are so enthusiastic about what you want to say. It can be a bit much.

While you want to let this person know about the value of what you sell, you don’t want to be pushy or sound like you are debating. What you want is a person who becomes a happy customer, not someone who leaves after being talked to for five minutes. What can you do?

Well, it’s not really that hard. You really just need to know two things: the value in what you sell, and how to tell someone that the right way.

There is a lot of value in the produce you sell that contrasts it from what someone can buy at the grocery store.

First, you probably sell varieties that are different from what the grocery store sells. Hopefully you know what they sell, and you can tell the customer that they can’t get this kind of produce at the store in town. With pears as an example, the grocery store probably sells Bartlett and Bosc, but you sell Pineapple and Tennessee pears. You can let the customer know this. As you’ve probably tried dozens of different varieties, you can let the customer know why yours are different. Be brief and talk about things like taste and texture that are easy to get across.

Speaking of taste and texture, that is probably what your produce is grown for. It isn’t grown so it can travel five hundred miles and ripen for six months in a warehouse. This is important. There isn’t a comparison between what you sell and what’s at the store. Obviously you can tell this to someone, but the best way to get this across is with a free sample. There’s no better way to let someone know something tastes good, than to let them taste it. There are rules about giving someone food, things about safety and hygiene and things, so be sure and follow them.

Third, your produce comes with a connection. You aren’t selling something grown on a thousand acre farm, five states away, and owned by a multi-national corporation, that was picked three months ago. You are selling something grown here, picked yesterday, down the road, by you, on land you own, where you work, where your family lives. You are selling more than produce. The best way to get this across is just to be knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Answer any questions the person has and be able to describe, very briefly, the story and connection of your produce. It might not hurt to think about this ahead of time. Don’t rehearse or memorize (you don’t want to sound corporate, right?), but just think about how to talk about what makes what you grow special.

Fourth, is your produce certified in any way? For example, by being organic or something like that? If so, let people know. Your synthetic pesticide free produce is a far cry from the traditional produce at the store. If you aren’t certified in something, that’s okay too. If you grow your produce using certain practices, just be able to talk about those. Know what kinds of fertilizers and pesticides you use. Learn to talk about them simply. Let people know how what you use could be different from what they can buy in town.

Fifth, you come with knowledge. For example, with pears, some pears are best eaten as a dessert. Others are better for cooking. Other’s still are better for preserves. If you know this and grow different varieties, let people know. Be able to talk about how to use what you grow and the different ways it can be used. Maybe have recipe cards that you can hand out. You know a lot about how your produce can be used and this is valuable to someone. You can easily get that across.

Sixth, while your produce might seem more expensive, it probably isn’t. Not to use a pun, but the person you are talking to probably isn’t comparing apples to apples. When the person saw the produce at the store, it was one of two or three varieties, grown using commercial agriculture techniques, shipped in from miles away. That’s the produce they saw for a dollar per pound. Had they wandered a little more in the store though, they might have found, depending on the store, locally grown, organic, heirloom produce. If they had seen this, and the price it costs, they would realize that what you sell isn’t really that expensive. In fact, it might be cheaper. The best way to get this across is just to know and be able to talk about what makes your produce different from what is traditionally sold. If you can let someone know they were comparing apples to peaches, they might not think your apples are really that expensive anymore.

When someone genuinely questions why they should pay more for what you sell than for what they can get at a large grocery store, it’s not really that hard to be able to tell them why. Just be able to talk about the difference between what you sell and what they can buy at the store and what makes your produce special. You already know all you need to. Just take a little time, think about how to say what you want to say, and watch as that person understands the difference and becomes a happy customer.

The Value of What You Grow

Spotlight On: Equipment & Facilities

Illusive Herd of Threshasaurus Sighted

Illusive Herd of Threshasaurus Sighted

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from issue:

The Threshasaurus’s large size and curious nature may appear antagonistic, but they are mostly curious and largely non-threatening. Be careful when approaching, however, as they do have sharp teeth and many fast moving, exposed pulleys.

Shed and Barn Plans

Below is a short piece from Starting Your Farm, by SFJ editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller. Click the links below to see Chapter One of Starting Your Farm and to view the book in our online bookstore. “You may have purchased a farm with a fantastic set of old barns and sheds. You, on […]

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Fjordworks: Cultural Evolution Part 2

For more than ten years we cultivated our market garden with the walk-behind cultivator. This past season we made the transition to the riding cultivator. I really enjoyed using this amazing implement. Our current team of Fjords are now mature animals (14 & 18 years old) and have been working together for 11 years, so they were certainly ready to work quietly and walk slowly enough to be effective with this precision tool.

400 Hen Laying House

400-Hen Laying House

by: ,
from issue:

One of the hardest problems in successful poultry keeping is to maintain the vigor and health of the flock. Housing has particular bearing on this problem. If the laying-house is poorly lighted, has insufficient ventilation, or is overcrowded, the health of the fowls will be affected. The purpose of housing is to increase productiveness. In order to accomplish this the fowls must be comfortable.

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

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It is now possible to purchase a make of machine to suit almost any condition if the money is available. There is no doubt that eventually they will be quite generally used. However, the dry farmers are at present hard pressed financially and in many instances the purchase of very much machinery is out of the question. For the man of small means or limited acreage, a homemade implement may be utilized at least temporarily.

Eighteen Dollar Harrow

Eighteen Dollar Harrow

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This is the story of a harrow on a budget. I saw plans on the Tillers International website for building an adjustable spike tooth harrow. I modified the plans somewhat to suit the materials I had available and built a functional farm tool for eighteen dollars. The manufactured equivalent would have cost at least $300.

McCormick-Deering Potato Digger

McCormick-Deering Potato Digger

from issue:

McCormick Deering (eventually International Harvestor) made what many believe to be one of the outstanding potato digger models. This post features the text and illustrations from the original manufacturer’s setup and operation literature, handed to the new owners upon purchase. This implement, pulled by two horses or a small suitable tractor, dug up the taters and conveyed them up an inclined, rattling chain which shook off most of the dirt and laid the crop on top of the ground for collection

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 2

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 2

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From reading the Small Farmers Journal, I knew that some people are equally happy with either model, but because McCormick Deering had gone to the trouble of developing the No. 9, it suggests they could see that there were improvements to be made on the No. 7. Even if the improvement was small, with a single horse any improvement was likely to increase my chance of success.

Log Arch

Log Arch

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from issue:

The arch was built on a small trailer axle that I cut down to 3 feet wide and tacked back together. This was done so that I could keep the wheels parallel. I cut the middle out after construction was complete. I used heavy wall pipe from my scrounge pile for the various frame parts. It is topped off with an angle iron bar for added strength and to provide a mount for the winch and some slots for extra chains.

Parker Soil Pulverizer

Bring Back To Life the John P. Parker Pulverizer

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Meanwhile, my senior year was approaching fast, and all of us students began to contemplate what our final project would be with a bit of urgency. Our capstone project tasks us with identifying a need for a product or solution, bringing that product through the design phase, then building that product and displaying at the Technical Exposition. So I had the harebrained idea to embark on recreating not only a scale model of Parker’s Pulverizer, but to also recreate the real thing in full-scale, complete with fresh new wheel castings.

Is This Mower Worth Rebuilding

Is This Mower Worth Rebuilding?

If you are in a position to choose which make and model of mower you might wish to work on might I put in my vote for either the McD/Internationals #7 & #9 or the John Deere Big Four. These were the last and most plentiful models made and some parts are still available with a fair measure of aftermarket cutter bar parts which are interchangeable.

Geiss New-Made Hay Loader

Gies’ New-Made Hayloader

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from issue:

I was sitting on a 5 gallon bucket staring at the hayloader. I had a significant amount of time and money invested. My wife, the great motivating influence in my life, walked up and asked what I was thinking. I was thinking about dropping the whole project and I told her so. She told me that it had better work since I had spent so much money and time on it already. She doesn’t talk that way very often so I figured I had better come up with a solution.

Box Jaw Tongs & the Cow Poop Theory of Blacksmithing

Box Jaw Tongs & the Cow Poop Theory of Blacksmithing

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Making a pair of tongs was a milestone for a lot of blacksmiths. In times gone past a Journeyman Smith meant just that, a smith that went upon a journey to learn more skills before taking a masters test. When the smith appeared at the door of a prospective employer, he/she would be required to demonstrate their skills. A yard stick for this was to make a pair of tongs.

Cultivating Questions Cultivator Setups and Deer Fencing

Cultivating Questions: Cultivator Set-ups and Deer Fencing

We know all too well the frustration of putting your heart and soul into a crop only to have the wildlife consume it before you can get it harvested let alone to market. Our farm sits next to several thousand acres of state game lands and is the only produce operation in the area. As you can imagine, deer pressure can be intense. Neighbors have counted herds of 20 or more in our pastures.

Farm Drum 25 Two-Way Plow

Farm Drum #25: Two-Way Plow

by:

Lynn Miller and Ed Joseph discuss the merits of the two-way plow, what to look for when considering purchase, and a little bit of the history of this unique IH / P&O model.

Work Bridle Styles

Work Bridle Styles

Here are fourteen work bridle styles taken from a 1920’s era harness catalog. Regional variants came with different names and configurations, so much so that we have elected to identify these images by letter instead of name so you may reference these pictures directly when ordering harness or talking about repairs or fit concerns with trainers or harness makers. In one region some were know as pigeon wing and others referred to them as batwing or mule bridles.

Posts

Driving Fence Posts By Hand

Where the soil is soft, loose, and free from stone, posts may be driven more easily and firmly than if set in holes dug for the purpose.

Blacksmith Forge Styles

Blacksmith Forge Styles

from issue:

Blacksmith Forge Styles circa 1920.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT