We have learned this year that getting a head start on growing produce really is he way to go! Last year, we faced much criticism from our favorite farmers after whining and wanting to take a break during the winter from the gardens…
This year, after completing much of the construction of our community gardens, and focusing primarily on beautification last year, we have wholeheartedly focused on production this year. We have learned a few important lessons.
Starting seeds early was a key that we should have tried way earlier. Last year, we fell pretty far behind the curve on planting early. All of our farmers had their products to market way earlier than we did (although we did outsell them come fall thanks to our high tunnels) This year, we made sure to order all of our seeds early (February) and started all over our seeds indoors under grow lights. We finally just got the last of our seeds in the ground and have started another round for a late crop.
Make connections to sell excess produce before the busy season starts. Last year, we had an excess of farmers market produce, and much of it went to waste since it was so hard to coordinate exchanges during such a busy time, and after the market on a Saturday. This year, we decided to be proactive about it, and asked our producers to commit to various outlets beforehand. One is our new My Mobile Market (a traveling farmers market six times throughout the summer), Youthworks (a summer program for Christian Youth who want to buy from the Farmers Market each week), 34:ATE (a new local restaurant) and Living Water Daycare (a small local daycare who is interested in buying
Marketing the Market while we have always been good about writing press releases, and randomly updating our Facebook, it has never been a top priority. These last couple of months I have started an Instagram (@healthy_in_the_hills) and have really increase our Facebook presence. We have also tried radio ads for the first time. I believe that it has really worked. Our first month of of the market was wildly successful. Looking forward to June!!