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How to test the market demand?

 
pollinator
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Location: Monticello Florida
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Hey y'all. I'm about to start a Permaculture market garden but I need to find the customers. How should I go about doing this? I live15 minutes from a town near Tallahassee. On other words, How do you test the market demand and find what people want? Cheers, Huxley.
 
gardener
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Spend some time at a farmers market to see whats selling, whats missing, etc. Helps with pricing also.
 
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I agree.  To go deep with the analysis one may do the following:

Go the nearby organic food stores and farmers markets and write down responses:
-> Ask the market leadership/organizers and the farmers which foods people are asking for which they don't grow or they tend to sell out of.
-> Watch customers and see how they spend their money.
-> Ask customers what they're missing.
-> Call farmers market organizers and organic grocery department managers across your region and ask them what they need more of.

Assess the ecological effect of farming each of the recommended foods where you are.

Assess the approximate gross margin of farming each of these foods. Gross margin (%) = (Revenue - cost of goods sold) / Revenue X 100

Put all these answers into a spreadsheet (apache open office calc is free).  Fill the rows with the crops.  Here's an example spread sheet:
1  [a. foods], [b. times wanted], [c. times wanted by big buyer], [d. Eco effect], [e. Gross margin %], [f. optional: months till salable... etc],
2   org coconuts              10                                3                           2                      85%                                            52                            
3   org greens for kimche 10                                8                          2.5                    62%                                            5
4   org greens                 13                                7                          3                       40%                                            4
4   org corn fed beef        2                                 1                          -8                       50%                                           36
5   org corn                    17                                4                           1                       20%                                            6

I'll edit this to show the math I'd suggest to compare them later.  Roughly it could be: take weighted average of b and c, add 5x the eco effect, and multiply by the gross margin and see which ones are best. Then consider if they fit your specific situation.

*:[You may be able to find the gross margin of local organic crops at your nearest ag school's library, and you could probably also buy/trade the gross margin data from a organic farmer near you who already did their math.  If they got a loan, or they are big - then they probably calculate this or something very similar. Here's a link to a gross margin study of crops in fiji which may have a vaguely similar climate to Tallahassee.  Note that they employ very cheap labor and they didn't include the cost of land as far as i can tell. There are many .]

reffernces:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_margin
https://www.pacificfarmers.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/CROPS-for-Fiji-gross-margin.pdf
 
pollinator
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Don't overlook approaching chefs in high-end restaurants.  They recognize quality and uniqueness and can be inspired by your offerings!
 
master steward
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If I were looking for customers, I would decide how far I want to drive to deliver my products.  Do I want to make trips to the big city or do I want to sell locally?  Do I want to sell to grocery stores and restaurants?  Or do I want to sell at the farmers market?  Or maybe I just want a stand out on the country road?  There is even the possibility of having a "produce route" where you deliver fresh veggie to a certain neighborhood.  Decide how much work you want to put into your market garden. And how much gasoline/maintenance you want to spend on your vehicle.

Here are some threads that might help with what to grow:

I think that there are different kinds of diversity that we can employ in a market garden.

In my market garden I try to have a few different varieties of each type of vegetable. That's one kind of diversity.



https://permies.com/t/63049/Balancing-efficiency-diversity#537917

https://permies.com/t/63126/Top-area-crops#538584

 
master pollinator
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Phil Gardener wrote:Don't overlook approaching chefs in high-end restaurants.  They recognize quality and uniqueness and can be inspired by your offerings!



You can only make excellent food with excellent produce.  Chefs will tell you what they want.  

Here is a list of the top 10 Farm to table restaurants in Tallahassee.  https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=farm+to+table&find_loc=Tallahassee%2C+FL
 
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford. Tiny ad:
Dave Burton's Boot Adventures at Wheaton Labs and Basecamp
https://permies.com/t/119676/permaculture-projects/Dave-Burton-Boot-Adventures-Wheaton
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