Having discussed the reduction of farm expenses in CFF Agronomics- Part One, I now feel like spending some time on the ickier topic (IMO) of generating sales. Of course, I have already spoken of the farm stand which continues to get rave reviews and is a consistent smallish source of daily income (which could be significantly higher, percentage wise, if some people would stop stealing, but that is another post for another day).
We now have two other sales outlets; Growing Up Organic and the Market in the Meadow. GUO is an initiative of the local chapter of the Canadian Organic Growers, Island Natural Growers and is basically a middle-man between growers and buyers on Salt Spring. There are something like 20 growers like us and maybe half that number of buyers, which include grocery stores, restaurants and institutions.
On Wednesdays, l’homme au moyen, Laurent, sends out a reminder for the growers to list all the things they have for sale come the following Tuesday’s harvest. He then calls all of the buyers to see what they would like to purchase. We find out what to harvest the day or two before. On Tuesday, Laurent drives around to all the farms and picks up our stuff before dropping everything off at the buyers. The prices were all decided upon months ago and are not negotiable. The GUO program takes 10% to partially run the program (it’s also funded by COG).
We are really fortunate to have GUO as people seem reluctant to buy our fresh produce off the stand for some reason. The inviolable rule or showing abundance of produce conflicts with the fact that it quickly wilts in summer heat and becomes compost material. So we are quite happy to harvest relatively large quantities of produce from the beds knowing that it will all be purchased in perfect condition.
The other outlet is the Market in the Meadow or the “Tuesday” market in downtown Ganges. While the Saturday market is much larger and attracts tourists from all over, the Tuesday market is smaller, predominantly food products and attracts mainly locals. The pace is more relaxed and yet there is a constant supply of shoppers who have come to get the freshest produce money can buy.
The first Tuesday market we attended two weeks ago was a big success. Pauline had the foresight to scope it out a few times prior to our appearance and realized that no-one was selling either plant starts or bread, our big sellers at the moment. The first week I baked 18 loaves of non-organic bread which sold minutes after I delivered them. I baked them at our summer farmhouse near town so it was only a 2 minute drive. People could smell the piping hot loaves across the “Meadow” and came running over, sometimes reserving loaves from the next batch. They also seemed to have a sweet tooth as the ginger snaps sold out. Pauline sold several plant starts although we’ve learned that people want more broccoli and cauliflower than we thought and it’s too late to start them now.
For yesterday’s market I increased bread production to 16 loaves of non-organic and, due to all the requests from the first week, 8 loaves of organic. All of them sold although we needed all of the market time to do it. I suspect we’ll keep the baking constant for the next couple of weeks and maybe add our plum jams, provided we get it successfully acid-tested by the health authority.