Our farm has had the pleasure of teaming up with an incredible local chef whom shares our passion for real, clean food. For the smaller homesteaders, this is a very effective way of marketing your farm for relatively inexpensive (will just cost you a sponsorship of your raised food). It is so reassuring to have found a chef who understands the value of cooking with quality food and not just masking the flavor with sauces and condiments. Chef Champion is a traveling chef. He does not have a traditional establishment. He is more personal. He will come to your home and cater a party for you or individualize the experience. We are looking forward to working with him to offer our community a better, all around, educational experience when it comes to food.
Another "out of the box" idea for marketing your products locally is to perform demonstrations at your local cooking supplies stores. You could show how their products work while preparing your food. This helps the retail store, as well as getting your name out into the community. Patrons whom frequent these establishments typically can cook and want to be eating the best.
I know many small farmers are indifferent to farmers markets. I think you should be a vendor, at least one season, especially if you are a new farmer. Many of the older generations of farmers are retiring, and it seems as though the markets are in a "rebuilding" stage. This is a fantastic way to meet other farmers, chefs, restaurant owners, and get your name out in the community. The most important thing to remember in choosing a market, is to make sure the board does not allow people to bring in items that they do not make or raise themselves. You don't want to associate your farm with a venue that allows that. That defeats the whole purpose as a consumer at a farmers markets is there to purchase your items, not Costcos. Farm Market clientele seem to be more educated about your products as well. They don't mind spending more on healthy, clean food because they know what the cost of real food is. The don't want to be eating chickens or salmon that was processed in China. And, if you ever find yourself with a customer that says "You can buy a whole chicken in the grocery store for $5." Please, please, take the time to educate them.
We absolutely love when our customers come to the farm to pick up their food! We instantly offer them a tour to "meet" our animals. It is the most rewarding for me to see others grinning from ear to ear as they pet our hogs, cattle and birds. We show them our fodder system and take this opportunity to tell them about how we are different and what are practices are about. People can read about it all they want, but I don't think it "clicks" until they see the whole process in action. Your current customers are going to be your biggest advocates. This gives me so much pleasure, especially if its a day where nothing is going right. I remember why we started our homestead in the first place.
Photo by Fotolia/michael spring