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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: How-To & Plans

How To Prune

From Dusty Shelves: Pruning Guide from 1917

Blacksmithing

Blacksmithing

from issue:

Modern farm machinery is largely of iron and steel construction, making an equipment of metal working tools necessary if satisfactory repairs are to be made. Forging operations consist of bending, upsetting, drawing out, welding, punching, drilling, riveting, thread-cutting, hardening, tempering, and annealing. Heat makes iron soft and ductile. Practically all forging operations on iron can be done more rapidly when it is at a high heat. Steel will not stand as high a temperature.

Horseshoeing Part 3A

Horseshoeing Part 3A

An examination should be made while the animal is at rest, and afterwards while in motion. The object of the examination is to gain accurate knowledge of the direction and movements of the limbs, of the form and character of the feet and hoofs, of the manner in which the foot reaches and leaves the ground, of the form, length, position, and wear of the shoe, and distribution of the nail-holes, in order that at the next and subsequent shoeings all ascertained peculiarities of hoof-form may be kept in mind and all discovered faults of shoeing corrected.

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Cheese

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Cheese

by:
from issue:

Yogurt making is the perfect introduction into the world of cultured dairy products and cheese-making. You are handling milk properly, becoming proficient at sanitizing pots and utensils, and learning the principles of culturing milk. Doing these things regularly, perfecting your methods, sets you up for cheese-making very well. Cheese-making involves the addition of a few more steps beyond the culturing.

Farmrun On the Anatomy of Thrift

On the Anatomy of Thrift: Side Butchery

On the Anatomy of Thrift is an instructional series Farmrun created with Farmstead Meatsmith. Their principal intention is instruction in the matters of traditional pork processing. In a broader and more honest context, OAT is a deeply philosophical manifesto on the subject of eating animals.

Basic Blacksmithing Techniques

Illustrated guide to basic blacksmithing techniques, an excerpt from Blacksmithing: Basics For The Homestead.

Basil Scarberrys Ground-Drive Forecart

Basil Scarberry’s Ground-Drive Forecart

by:
from issue:

I used an ’84 Chevrolet S-10 rear end to build my forecart, turn it over to get right rotation, used master cylinder off buggy and 2” Reese hitch, extend hitch out to use P.T.O. The cart is especially useful for tedding hay. However, its uses are virtually unlimited. We use it for hauling firewood on a trailer, for pulling a disc and peg tooth harrow, for hauling baled hay on an 8’ x 16’ hay wagon, and just for a jaunt about the farm and community.

Homemade Beet Grinder

Homemade Beet Grinder

by:
from issue:

This is my small beet grinder I built about 6 years ago. It has done nearly daily duty for that time. The beet fodder is added to my goat and rabbit rations which are largely homemade. Adding the pulp to the grain rations has aided me in having goat milk throughout the winter months. My beets are the Colossal Red Mangels. Many grow up to 2 feet long. I cut off enough for a day’s feed and grind it up each morning. Beets oxidize like cut apples. Fresh is best!

Fencing for Horses

Fencing for Horses

by:
from issue:

The first wire we tried was a small gauge steel wire which was not terribly satisfactory with horses. Half the time they wouldn’t see it and would charge on through. And the other half of the time they would remember getting shocked by something they hadn’t seen there and would refuse to come through when we were standing there with gate wide open. We realized that visibility was an important consideration when working with horses.

Sleds

Sleds

by:
from issue:

The remainder of this section on Agricultural Implements is about homemade equipment for use with draft animals. These implements are all proven and serviceable. They are easily worked by a single animal weighing 1,000 pounds, and probably a good deal less. Sleds rate high on our homestead. They can be pulled over rough terrain. They do well traversing slopes. Being low to the ground, they are very easy to load up.

Chicken

The Best Chicken Pie Ever

by:
from issue:

She has one more gift to give: Chicken Pie.

Plans for Hog Houses

Plans for Hog Houses

by: ,
from issue:

Missouri Sunlit Hog House: This is an east and west type of house lighted by windows in the south roof. A single stack ventilation system with distributed inlets provides ventilation. Pen partitions may be of wood or metal. This plan takes the place of the original Missouri sunlit house since many farmers had difficulty in building it.

Horse Powered Snow Scoop

Horse Powered Snow Scoop

by:
from issue:

The scoop has two steel sides about 5 feet apart sitting on steel runners made out of heavy 2 X 2 angle iron, there is a blade that is lowered and raised by use of a foot release which allows the weight of the blade to lower it and then lock in the down position and the forward motion of the horses to raise it and lock it in the up position. This is accomplished by a clever pivoting action where the tongue attaches to the snow scoop.

Laying Out Fields For Plowing

Laying Out Fields For Plowing

from issue:

Before starting to plow a field much time can be saved if the field is first staked out in uniform width lands. Methods that leave dead furrows running down the slope should be avoided, as water may collect in them and cause serious erosion. The method of starting at the sides and plowing around and around to finish in the center of the field will, if practiced year after year, create low areas at the dead furrows.

Lightning Protection for the Farm

Lightning Protection for the Farm

by:
from issue:

Lightning-protection systems for buildings give lightning ready-made lines of low resistance. They do this by providing unbroken bodies of material that have lower resistance than any other in the immediate neighborhood. A protection system routes lightning along a known, controlled course between the air and the moist earth. Well-installed and maintained, a lightning-protection system will route lightning with over 90-percent effectiveness.

Horseshoeing Part 3B

Horseshoeing Part 3B

Besides good, tough iron for the shoe, we need an anvil with a round horn and a small hole at one end, a round-headed turning-hammer, a round sledge, a stamping hammer, a pritchel of good steel, and, if a fullered shoe is to be made, a round fuller. Bodily activity and, above all else, a good eye for measurement are not only desirable, but necessary. A shoe should be made thoughtfully, but yet quickly enough to make the most of the heat.

Soil, Vegetation, and Acidity

From Dusty Shelves: Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide teaches us about soil acidity.

McCormick Deering/International No 7 vs no 9

McCormick Deering/International: No. 7 versus No. 9

McCormick Deering/International’s first enclosed gear model was the No. 7, an extremely successful and highly popular mower of excellent design.

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