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.
We are surrounded by nearly insurmountable opportunity -- Bill Mollison
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 .]
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.