They’re farmers. They’re growers. They’re businesspeople. They’re entertainers. When your job includes doing everything, often the vocabulary at your disposal is limiting. So now, they’re writers as well, having coined a new term to describe what they do. [Read more…]
“The core group of customers who will pay the most for your locally grown produce are those who value local food; want to support the local economy; are looking for the health benefits of buying local; and value their relationship with you, the grower,” according to Dr. Tim Woods, who spoke recently to growers at the well-attended Illinois Growers Conference. These customers care about value, but are not primarily price shoppers. [Read more…]
by Karl H. Kazaks
Earlier this year, Maine’s governor signed a law making The Pine Tree State the second state in the country (after Connecticut) to require food producers to label foods which contain GMO ingredients. Those laws only take effect, however, when five other surrounding states also pass similar legislation.
Such legislation has been proposed in over half the states. [Read more…]
It took 46 years to accomplish, but Ohio State’s horticulture building finally has a roof garden. When Howlett Hall was completed in 1967, a roof garden was supposed to be part of it, but as so often is the case, the money ran out before this could get done. Now the $450,000 project is completed, at probably double the 1960s construction cost. At least one restaurant in Columbus also has a roof garden on top of their one story building, but the bulk of specialty produce for the restaurant is grown outdoors or via high tunnel in a greenhouse setting, located in a more rural location. The OSU site will be used primarily for research, especially on dry tolerant plants, according to Mary Maloney, director of Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Center. [Read more…]
Todd McWethy has always been interested in plants, and that enthusiasm led him to formal education in the field. He landed jobs in landscaping and as a nursery manager, and eventually returned to school for a second degree in plant science.
“While I was there, I took a course in hydroponics,” said McWethy, “I have a love for plants and growing things. Hydroponics intrigued me, and it was something I had played around with on a hobby level.”
At Royal Oak Farm in Harvard, IL, it takes a small fleet of equipment to manage the 16,000 apple trees plus the raspberries, peaches, sweet corn, pumpkins, gourds and other produce grown there.
Savvy businesspeople know that happy customers return and spend more money. Smart farmers ask loyal CSA, farmers market and restaurant customers what they liked. Smart businesspeople seek customer suggestions for the future.
Visitors to farm-based food stores, cafes or restaurants tend to stay longer and spend more money according to Eric Nusbaum, Ph.D. of Wheelwright Consultants in Greenfield, MA, who led a workshop at the 2013 Harvest New England Ag Marketing Conference & Trade Show. However, growers considering adding commercial kitchens should still use careful analysis to confirm a viable market justifies the significant investment.
When Michael and Nichole McHugh began searching for side business opportunities to supplement their teaching jobs, they both wanted to get into the growing business. They had worked for greenhouse companies in the past and knew that they would enjoy being part of the industry. But they only wanted to proceed if they could start a company without having to manage a staff.
Fairview Farm, near Plainview, MN, may have the short growing season typical of the Upper Midwest, but the farm has a year-round marketing season. In winter, two generations of the Timm family market their own home-grown vegetables at the Rochester, MN and Winona, MN indoor Winter Markets, and sell in quantity to school districts, co-ops, and restaurants, all of whom are eager to “buy local.” [Read more…]