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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
Founder, Small Farm Central
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 like this one about food justice:
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.
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?
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:
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!
The American Farmland Trust is running it's "I Love My Farmers Market" campaign again this summer in order to continue to raise awareness about supporting local farms. The campaign asks market-goers to pledge their commitment to their local market by recording what they anticipate spending that week.
Check out their infographic about the increase in Farmers Markets across the country and visit their website to learn how you can get involved in the campaign.
Check out these beautiful stamps that will be offered by the United States Postal Service in August:
The stamps were designed by artist director Greg Breeding and illustrator Robin Moline to honor "America's agricultural bounty" and to commemorate the long tradition of farmer's markets across the country. The following description of markets accompanied the amouncement of the stamps at the end of May:
"Stalls brimming with fresh produce, shoppers engaged in conversation with vendors, neighbors catching up on news—farmers markets are so much more than just places to buy fruits and vegetables. They are spaces that foster community, support small farms, and boost local economies, and they offer consumers the opportunity to interact directly with the people who produce their food."
These stamps make the gang here at Small Farm Central want to stop sending emails and start sending more letters! We think they would be great to use in mailing campaign to your customers. For farmers using the FarmFan Rewards Program they could even be used as one of the incentives for your fans. For example: earn 175 points and trade them in for a book of 20 farmers market stamps!
1. Live Chat Support. When one of our support staff is available, you will see a chat option on the lower right of your control panel so you can ask for help with whatever you are working on at that moment.
2. Custom Form Answers on Member Assembler Pickup Lists. You can optionally include a column for any of the answers your members supplied during their signup process. This would be most useful if people marked themselves vegan, for instance, or noted any allergies.
3. Checkout Coupon Counts. With Member Assembler checkout coupons, there is a count of how many invoices are using each coupon along with a list of the invoices for you to track use or abuse of a code.
4. Archived User Groups. When you archive user groups now, they will move to their own list rather than staying on one gigantic list. This way you can more easily access whatever groups are currently relevant.
5. Payment Request Emails. You can save the text of a new payment request email to use as a default in future payment requests.
6. Deleted Members. If you've accidentally deleted a Membership you can type "Deleted" in your Search box on the upper-right of your control panel to find a list of Deleted Members. You also have access to all of the Member Notes for that member should you need to recreate their details.
7. E-Commerce Calculated Shipping. You can add on an additional Handling Fee to cover your costs when using the UPS/FedEx/USPS calculator for E-Commerce shipping rates.