When I think of organic gardening, farmer’s markets, and healthy foods, I tend to think about old ways and old school. I romanticize things and planting, growing, homemade bread, and such make me ponder the value in a basic life style.
But if you are spending your time growing vegetables and flowers and then marketing them at the weekly or biweekly farmer’s markets, you really want enough people to come to buy your products to make it worth all that effort.
I think there is a new breed of people who understand that the mix of both the basic lifestyle and the new forms of marketing may help them grow their market too.
Today was my first trek with my husband, Bill, to Farmer’s Market of Wausau and I have to say I always have this feeling of joy. The variety of vendors was there but not near the volume of vendors you experience as the summer goes on. The products are really different too this early in the season and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised.
We started with a Hmong family who had a variety of herbs for sale. The man pointed out all the different herbs and said, “these are the ones to make great chicken soup!” I was intrigued and will probably visit again to buy some of the “chicken soup herbs” but for now I bought very tiny basil plants and some sweet banana peppers.
Leads to new products
We worked our way down the line of vendors and found many more treasures including some I had not found before in Wausau. For example, I found these locally grown oyster mushrooms from 2 Fungi’s Mushrooms and couldn’t resist.
We are a mushroom-loving family but most of the time, I only buy the white mushrooms. I can find a way to put mushrooms in almost everything, omelets, stir fries, soup, casseroles, wraps, and more. Every shopping list has mushrooms on the list and we buy at least one 8 ounce package a week so it was a natural that I would be drawn to these.
Getting expert advice
One of the other benefits of going to the farmer’s market is the wealth of experts that let you reference their wealth of specific knowledge. I was delighted to find so many growers with plants. I love going out this time of year to green houses to purchase tomatoes, peppers, and other plants but at the farmer’s market, I had a batch of experts all in a row. No running around from greenhouse to greenhouse. Not only that, I could ask my questions.
Last year I struggled with getting tomatoes to grow. They started out beautiful but ended up attacked by blight and had almost no leaves left. Determined to do better this year, I asked one of the growers if she could give me some advice.
As I explained the problem, she told me that people statewide had lost tomatoes last year and her plants were now sprayed to prevent blight. She consulted her notes and told us that our best bet was with the Celebrity tomato. I bought 6 plants.
My visit to Farmer’s Market was definitely rewarding and I will be back. What made my anticipation grow. Until last year, I only visited the market sporadically. I tended to forget it was there or I figured I could just get what I wanted at the grocery store.
Last year I heard the buzz about farmer’s market on Facebook. Every Saturday, I would see people talking on Facebook about what they found at the market. This year, I learned about the launch date for farmer’s market because of the new Facebook page for the Farmer’s Market of Wausau. I immediately made sure I “Liked” it so I would get the updates every time they posted. I have to tell you that these reminders changed my priorities. I told Bill we were going to the market Saturday morning.
I also wondered if there was more information available. A check of Google for farmer’s market Wausau gave me many smaller sites with directions to the market and a home base of a blog site.
Today people yearning for organic lifestyles and natural foods search using Google. I think you will find more farmer’s markets and other natural product businesses making sure they have an online presence to give others the opportunity to find new products, new vendors, and new resources.
I’d love to find a blog written by the 2 Fungi’s Mushrooms owners telling me about different types of mushrooms and how to cook with them. They do have a Facebook page. I did find that my New Roots coffee vendor has already has an active Facebook page and has implemented ordering options on his website. I could buy the Daylight in the Swamp coffee blend online if I didn’t buy it at farmer’s market.
Sometimes people think only online businesses can benefit from online marketing but I suspect that many more would find their businesses growing by using online resources to bring the customers to them.