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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 PST

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: Book Reviews

Retrofitting a Fireplace with a Woodstove

How to Retrofit a Fireplace with a Woodstove

Because the venting requirements for a wood stove are different than for a fireplace you need to retrofit a stainless steel chimney liner. A liner provides the draft necessary to ensure that the stove will operate safely and efficiently.

Art of Working Horses Hunter Review

Art of Working Horses – A Review

by:
from issue:

Over 40 years Lynn Miller has written a whole library of valuable and indispensable books about the craft of working horses. He has helped beginners acquire the basics of harnessing and working around horses, and has led those further along to focus on the specific demands of plowing, mowing, haying and related subjects. But, in a fitting culmination, his latest book, The Art of Working Horses, raises its sights and openly ponders secrets at the heart of the work that may over time elevate it to an art.

Dont Eat the Seed Corn

Don’t Eat the Seed Corn: Strategies & Prospects for Human Survival

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Gary Paul Nabhan’s book “WHERE OUR FOOD COMES FROM: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov’s Quest to End Famine” (Island Press, 2009) is a weighty tome, freighted with implications. But as befits its subject it is also portable and travels well, a deft exploration of two trips around the world, that of the author following in the footsteps of a long-gone mentor he never met, the Russian pioneer botanist and geneticist Nikolay Vavilov (1887-1943).

Art of Working Horses Another Review

Art of Working Horses – Another Review

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One could loosely say this is a “how-to” book but it is more of an “existential” how-to: how to get yourself into a way of thinking about the world of working horses. Maybe we need to explain what a working horse is. A working horse is one, in harness, given to a specific task. So, in that context, the book illustrates the many ways Miller has worked with his equine partners over the years – helping them understand what he wants them to do, as both work together to create relationships that help achieve desired goals.

Honoring Our Teachers

Honoring Our Teachers

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I believe that there exist many great practicing teachers, some of who deliberately set out to become one and others who may have never graduated from college but are none-the-less excellent and capable teachers. I would hazard a guess that many readers of Small Farmer’s Journal know more than one teacher who falls within this latter category. My grandfather, and artist and author Eric Sloane, were two such teachers.

Old Man Farming

Old Man Farming

Long after his physical capacities have dwindled to pain and stiffening, what drives the solitary old man to continue bringing in the handful of Guernsey cows to milk?

Art of Working Horses

Lynn Miller’s New Book: Art of Working Horses

Art of Working Horses, by Lynn R. Miller, follows on the heels of his other eight Work Horse Library titles. This book tells the inside story of how people today find success working horses and mules in harness, whether it be on farm fields, in the woods, or on the road. Over 500 photos and illustrations accompany an anecdote-rich text which makes a case for the future of true horsepower.

Chicken Guano: Top-Notch Fertilizer

Whoever thought I’d be singing the praises of chicken poop? I am, and I’m not the only one. Chickens are walking nitrogen-rich manure bins.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 4

Assuming that you’ve found a farm you want to buy, next you’ll need to determine if you can buy it. If you have sold your property, and/or saved your money, and have the means to buy the farm you are sitting pretty. If you do not have the full price of a considered farm, in cash or any other form, you will likely have to look for financing.

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

Book Excerpt: The enclosed gear, late model John Deere, Case, Oliver, David Bradley, and McCormick Deering International mowers I (we) are so fond of had a zenith of popular manufacture and use that lasted just short of 25 years. Millions of farmers with millions of mowers, built to have a serviceable life of 100 plus years, all pushed into the fence rows. I say, it was far too short of a period.

Haying With Horses

Haying With Horses

If the reader is considering the construction of a barn we encourage you to give more than passing thought to allowing the structure of the gable to be open enough to accommodate the hanging of a trolley track. It is difficult or impossible to retrofit a truss-built barn, which may have many supports crisscrossing the inside gable, to receive hay jags. At least allowing for the option in a new construction design will leave the option for loose hay systems in the future.

Work Horse Handbook

Work Horse Handbook

Horses are honest creatures. And, what I mean by honest is that a horse is almost always true to his motivations, his needs, his perceptions: if he wants to eat, if he needs water, if he perceives danger. He is incapable of temporarily setting aside or subverting his motivations to get to some distant goal. This is often mistaken as evidence for a lack of intelligence, a conclusion which says more of human nature than equine smarts. What it means for the horse is that he is almost never lazy, sneaky or deceptive. It is simply not in his nature.

How To Prune a Formal Hedge

How To Prune A Formal Hedge

This guide to hedge-trimming comes from The Pruning Answer Book by Lewis Hill and Penelope O’Sullivan. Q: What’s the correct way to shear a formal hedge? A: The amount of shearing depends upon the specific plant and whether the hedge is formal or informal. You’ll need to trim an informal hedge only once or twice a year, although more vigorous growers, such as privet and ninebark, may need additional clippings.

Timing the Bounce

Timing the Bounce: Resilient Agriculture Meets Climate Change

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In her new book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate, Laura Lengnick assumes a dispassionate, businesslike tone and sets about exploring the farming strategies of twenty-seven award-winning farmers in six regions of the continental United States. Her approach gets well past denial and business-as-usual, to see what can be done, which strategies are being tried, and how well they are working.

Old Man Farming

Spinning Ladders

You die off by passing away. You live on by passing on. I want to pass the culture of my life on slowly, over the ripening time of my best years.

Haying With Horses

Hitching Horses To A Mower

When hitching to the mower, first make sure it’s on level ground and out of gear. The cutter bar should be fastened up in the vertical or carrier position. This is for safety of all people in attendance during hitching.

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

You are probably thinking why would I want to dry up a doe? If the plan is to rebreed the doe, then she will need time to rebuild her stamina. Milk production takes energy. Kid production takes energy, too. If the plan is to have a fresh goat in March, then toward the end of October start to dry her up. The first thing to do is cut back on her grain. Grain fuels milk production.

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