I would one day like to have a small holding farm of say about 30 acre. But id likely start at 1 acre and grow outwards from there. Im not very good at marketing and sales so i feel i would suck at the markets. Is selling direct to retailers a viable way? small grocery shops as well?
I don't know how your area is, but in my region the small farmers tend to sell via diversified outlets. Larger farms tend to wholesale everything. Small farms use farmers markets, on farm retail sales, restaurants, small grocery stores, wholesale to other farmers who are selling at the farmers markets, sell to food banks and community centers, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. For some of those outlets the farmer has to a registered vendor with the state and county.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Aaron O'Sullivan wrote:I would one day like to have a small holding farm of say about 30 acre. But id likely start at 1 acre and grow outwards from there. Im not very good at marketing and sales so i feel i would suck at the markets. Is selling direct to retailers a viable way? small grocery shops as well?
For that reason, I would strongly suggest starting out by attending farmers markets. They are excellent way to generate leads and contacts to other outlets.
Aaron O'Sullivan wrote:Im not very good at marketing and sales so i feel i would suck at the markets.
Short but true story: Like many people, I hated having my photo made. Then I helped start a camera club. People were taking my picture constantly at our events. I finally quit hating it because it made for ugly photos and I loved the people in the club. Now most people can take good pictures of me. Moral: get over yourself.
Selling is a skill that can be learned, not an innate talent. I forced myself to learn to do it when I was peddling my book. If I have a product I think is worthy, it becomes easy to talk about it because I'm proud of it. Mostly I just smile, practice a short pitch, and answer questions. At least at a farmers market, people come to buy the kinds of things you are selling. Let us not discuss the nightmare of selling books at Costco when people are there to buy tires and cases of canned beans.
So don't say you can't, just that you haven't (yet). That's the first place you will develop the relationships with chefs and buyers that can replace direct sales. As you grow, you might still find the markets useful for product research-finding out what people actually buy and why. Or if you still don't like it, you can hire for and delegate the markets. But once you get used to it, you might not want to, because your customers will become your friends and the markets will be a happy place.
- Take this for what its worth, this site has a fantastic product, and a surprising amount of repeat sales through their catalog; Pecan farmers by hard economic necessity,
They used their Catalogs motto - ''Help us ship the nuts out of Georgia'' to grow, thrive, and expand !
As a progressive Christian community they were locally labeled as Socialists/Communists , and picketed by the KKK; their 'out of state sales' kept them growing through
some very hard times !
They can legitimately claim to be the place that Habitat for Humanity grew out of !
So this is a legitimate 'nother way than- Farmers Markets and here is the 'catalog'