Blog

May 6, 2015

6 Visual Merchandising Tips for Farmers

Posted by: lauren

The majority of the marketing that you do will be visual marketing. Not only is visual information processed through the brain faster then textual information, but visuals also have a better retention rate. We remember 40% of what we see, but only 20% of what we read. Check out more facts about visual vs. text marketing in this infographic from Huffpost.

This month we'll be talking specifically about how to present your merchandise in a visually engaging way, to catch the attention of your customers in person and online. Here are six tips to keep in mind whether you are constructing a dynamic market display or crafting a post on Facebook.

6 Visual Merchandising Tips for Farmers

 
1. Show abundance

Customers like to feel like they can pick from a bounty of items, so show them
that you have plenty to offer. A photo of a nice big harvest is an impressive site!

2. Keep it simple & use space

Too much visual clutter will make it hard for customers to see what you are offering.
Space out items you are showcasing so that each product is easier to distinguish.

3. Highlight quality

There might be an ugly food trend happening, but it's still a good idea to show your
best goods...unless you've got a really weird looking veggie, then see tip number five.

4. Show variety

Customers are attracted to choice. Show them all the different products that
you offer so they know when they shop from you they will find something they want.

5. Use novelty

People are attracted to familiar things that are presented in a new and interesting way.
Display your items in a novel way and your customers will want to show and share with
their friends, creating a buzz for your products.

6. Use color

Color attracts people and can be used to enhance some of the other tips listed above. For example,
showing richly colored items will highlight quality. Grouping colors together can create a sense of
abundance while putting contrasting colors next to each other will make your items stand out.

Photo credits:
Michigan Municipal League, mml.org
Toledo Farmers Market, toledofarmersmarket.com

 

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Apr 28, 2015

Success Stories: From Food Trend to Food Movement

Posted by: lauren

We can't talk about food trends all month without finally giving a big nod to our favorite one: the local food movement. The concept of eating locally is not as new and trendy as say, eating like a caveman, but it has been mentioned on food trend lists for at least the last 10 years. The growth in popularity of this long-standing trend has turned "eating locally" into a whole movement and for some people, a lifestyle.

Success in Small Batches

 

A trend that's growing within the larger local food movement is the concept of "small batch" goods. Consumers who are committed "locavores" are looking to source more and more of their food staples close to home, beyond the staple items thay can get from their farmer. While some farms have found success with value-added goods that they make in small batches directly on their farm, other farmers are following the trend by partnering with small batch food producers who need local sources for the ingredients they use to make products like craft beer, artisianal cheese, and gourmet pickles.

Small batch success stories:

The Story Behind One of America’s Most Coveted Butters - Yahoo Food
Farmers: This Lady Wants Your Bones - Modern Farmer

Catering to the Craft Brewer

 

Distillers of small batch spirits and brewers of craft beer and hard cider are on the hunt for local ingredients. They have created such a demand that some farmers have even switched from growing produce to growing hops. We caught up with Jessica Schneider of Schneider's Hop Haus in Ohio who, after starting her hop farm in 2013, finds herself right in the midst of a growing food trend. Jessica had this to say about her success marketing local hops:

"Hops have a knack of marketing themselves right now. We know that we are fortunate to be in our third growing season, which is the first potential for a full harvest, right as the craft brewing scene is percolating in Ohio. The last two years, our modest harvests have sold out the same day that we took the bines down. Social media, community connections, and coordination with the collaboration of hop growers around us have proven to be very effective marketing techniques, thus far."

Read the full interview, featured on the Schneiders Hop Haus blog, to find out how Jessica was inspired to start the farm, where hop farming is headed, and other food trends that are popping up in Ohio. Then check out her post on this new food trend: eating hop shoots.

Small brew success stories:

Craft Distiller Wants to Save Small Farms - Modern Farmer
Taste For Cider Promts New Apple Varieties - Capitol Ag Press
Demand For Local Hops Continues To Grow - Daily Inter Lake

 

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Apr 21, 2015

What's Trending On Your Farm Right Now?

Posted by: lauren

"Trending" is a term used to describe those topics that people are sharing and posting about online. In a more general sense, the term represents anything that's currently popular and that people are talking about. You can find out what foods and ingredients are trending right now by using social media to follow people and outlets that report about what's new in food. Here our two favorite sources for food news:

HuffPost Taste: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taste/
On Twitter: @HuffpostTaste

NPR's food blog, The Salt: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/
On Twitter: @NPRFood

We mentioned earlier this month that you can create your own food trends. "Eating with the seasons" is a concept that continues to gain in popularity and it's really easy to encourage this through marketing. Show your customers and fans what's "trending" right now (i.e. what's in season) on your website, in your farm newsletter or in a text message.

Here are some sample images that we made for you to share or use for inspiration for your own food trends:

   

You can make similar combinations of images and text online (we used www.canva.com) or just post a picture and use the post to explain it.

Twitter's platform is especially suited for posting about and keeping up with trends. Hashtags are used to group together posts about the same topic and are searchable so they generate lists of similar content. For example, when we post tips to help you market your farm on Twitter, we use the hashtag #farmmarketing. Other people use that tag as well, so if you are looking for farm marketing tips you can search this hashtag and come up with a list of relevant posts.  Here is an image that we that made for specifically for sharing on Twitter, based on a hashtag that was trending earlier this month:

While we included the hashtag in the image, you will still need to add it to your Tweet for it to be searchable. You can read more about hashtags here.

PS. Check out our Pinterest page Small Farm Marketing for more ideas and shareable content.

 

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Apr 14, 2015

Farm Friendly Recipes: Food Trends

Posted by: lauren

When it comes to new food trends, not everyone is ready to try the next new thing. But you don't have to start planting vegetable hybrids or catching crickets in order to jump on the food trend bandwagon.

Below are some recipes that you can share with your customers and fans that capitalize on current food trends and highlight some common foods in a new way. Visit the Small Farm Central Facebook page and SFC Twitter account for images to share on social media.

Trend: Bone Broth

Bone Broth by Farmers Couture

Trend: Fermented Foods

Lacto-Fermented Ginger Carrots by Girl Meets Nourishment
Pickled Blueberries by Chef Tyler Kord on Saveur.com

Trend: "Ugly" Vegetables

Rutabega Gnocchi with lemon and thyme by Samantha Turnbull on Produce Made Simple

PS: Word on the street is that just like kelp, cauliflower is "the new kale" and that peas are replacing soy as the go-to plant protein.

 

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Apr 7, 2015

Three Things to Know About Using Food Trends in your Farm Marketing

Posted by: lauren

Recently, Twitter was buzzing with the news that "kelp is the new kale" a suggestion made by this recent article on "The Salt", NPR's food blog. At first, I was a little concerned. Was kale, a great CSA and farmers market crop, going to fall out of favor to a food that can't always be cultivated locally? But this news is not as bad as it sounds, since food trends can present great marketing opportunities for farmers. Here are three things to keep in mind to help you use current food trends to your advantage, whether you're are selling kale, kelp, or kohlrabi.

1. Trends in food and eating are not as fleeting as you think.

It can take years for new foods to reach a level of mainstream consumption. Seaweed, for example, has been building popularity for about 4 years. This means that you can easily to stay on top of ongoing trends and focus what's relevant for you and your customers.

2. You don't have to be selling a trendy food in order to use it in your marketing.

While there are certainly "foodies" who are looking for the next new thing, most people are not ready to add crickets to their diet. But, you can still capitalize on the popularity of these foods by offering offering up new recipes that feature trends as well as highlight your products. Here is a recipe that we posted on our Facebook page that combines trendy kelp with our favorite staple, kale.

3. Food trends can start locally, with products you already have.

You might have little room in your farm planning to try out a new crop or variety, but you can make your tried-and-true crops new again. Think of newness from the perspective of your customer. There are goods that you sell that they haven't tried yet, so you can still introduce them to new flavors and ingredients, even if they don't feel that new or trendy to you.

How do you find out what the current food trends are?

Many food news outlets, food blogs, and food critics post their predications for emerging food trends at the beginning of the year. They also keep a pulse on what chefs are doing and what's popular in other countries that might catch on here. Here are a few sources: The Kitchen Daily & Everyday Health, but a quick online search of "foods trends" will also do the trick.


PS. Check out this clip from the TV show Portlandia which features Steve Buchemi as a struggling food executive who's been assigned to market celery as trendier food.

Photo credits: Ken Hawkins & Seth Anderson

 

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Nov 14, 2014

Announcing the Farm Marketing Minute

Posted by: Small Farm Central

Marketing is hard and you are too busy farming to keep it top of mind. There are too many options: email, facebook, and Twitter and there's not enough time in the day.

However, marketing is also vitally important if your farm sells directly to customers. A farm without customers is just a big compost pile.

We want to help your marketing easier, so you can get back to farming.

To that end, we will relaunch this blog as the Farm Marketing Minute in April 2015.

We'll send you one email every week during the growing season with:

  • A shareable piece of content like a quote or an infographic that can be posted directly to Facebook, Twitter, or your blog
  • Seasonal recipes
  • Free graphics you can use in your marketing
  • A marketing tip or trick

This is a completely free service!

If you sign up now, I will send you our set of 140 vegetable stock photos. We took these photos and they are royalty free to use in your marketing in any way you see fit.

The photos look like this:

Sign up Now


We never share your information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

See this as your weekly motivation throughout the season to keep your customers engaged.

-Simon Huntley
Founder, Small Farm Central

Oct 15, 2014

October Food Days Advocate for Family Farms & Food Justice

Posted by: lauren

The fall harvest is a time when food seems bountiful and we take the time to reflect and give thanks for what we have. Two “food days” in October remind us of the people who work hard to provide this bounty and they encourage an awareness of the issues that threaten their life’s work.


Coming up on October 16th is World Food Day, an annual event organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to bring awareness to world hunger issues. Since 2014 is also the International Year of Family Farming,  this year’s World Food Day theme is: "Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth". The theme has a broad scope and, according to their website, addresses:  

“the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.”

Check out the World Food Day website for videos, infographics and more information about how to get involved.


Later in the month, on Octber 24th, is Food Day, a national event hosted by a coalition of over 100 partner organizations. Food Day “envisions food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.” This year they are bringing a special focus to food justice issues like access & equality, farm & food service workers, hunger & obesity and even junk food marketing.

Check out the the Food Day website to find activities in your area, and to read more about  the issues they are tackling. Their resources is filled with great information for sharing including infographics about food justice.


Oct 7, 2014

Now Hiring for Farmer Success

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We are adding a new position to the Small Farm Central team, Farmer Success Specialist. This position entails supporting our customers as well as developing and implementing a plan to reach out to existing customers to ensure they are having success with the software.

This is a Pittsburgh-based position at our East Liberty offices.

Many more details here:

Sep 30, 2014

CSA Stock Images

Posted by: Small Farm Central

We have been working with an illustrator to develop some stock images of CSA boxes that look like this:

This is conjunction with a feature for Member Assembler which will allow associating an image with each member type to give members a better visual feel for what each box looks like as they are making their selections. You will be able to upload your own image or use one of these illustrations.

Do you think these illustrations will be useful?

Aug 7, 2014

Happy Farmers Market Week!

Posted by: Small Farm Central

In honor of National Farmers Market Week, The Farmers Market Coalition announced the winners of their first ever poster contest. Check them out below or click here:

The crew at Small Farm Central is especially excited for the winner of the Best EBT/Incentive Program Poster, Pittsburgh's own Just Harvest! Their Fresh Access program has been enabling Pittsburgh CitiParks Farmers Markets customers the ability to purchase tokens with their debit cards, credit cards, and SNAP benefit cards which in turn can be used to buy goods from the market vendors. Not only has it made shopping at farmers markets more convenient, but it's made the market more accessible for everyone!

Here are some other updates and articles that were written in celebration of National Farmers Market Week:

Thousands of Reasons to Celebrate National Farmers Market Week - USDA blog

Farmers' Market Values - New York Times Online: The Opinion Pages

Farmers Markets & Urban Agriculture - Sharing the Bounty - HuffPost Food: The Blog

FMC Celebrates National Farmers Market Week in DC - The Farmers Market Coalition website

And here's another smart infographic about farmers markets from The Farmers Market Coalition to share on your websites. Be sure to check out their website for more great resources to promote your market.

Keep spreading the word about shopping at local markets and be sure to keep on celebrating through the weekend!

Twitter

  • If I had a diet plan, it would be: 1) cook for yourself 2) eat whatever you want at mealtimes, but cut the snacks 3) cut the desserts&sugars
    2 years 4 weeks ago
  • @AmyinOregon oh, neat. Glad you like them.. more coming soon!
    2 years 4 weeks ago