This week I’ve been pretty busy gathering all the food I need for an “Open House” event this Saturday in downtown Raleigh. I’ve been really focused on this project because as anyone starting a business knows, you need to make a great first impression. In this case, I’m representing several local farms as well as my own company so I hope you’ll come check it out. http://on.fb.me/ghMBrd
Along the way this week I discovered something awesome: Women excel at farming!
Whether it’s an animal, plant or person, women in the field talk about how something is growing and what they will be doing to help it along or what they will change to make it better. Not once this week did I hear a complaint. There were plans to expand and change to meet the demands of a long recession. There were stories of how these women were helping each other and going out of their way to avoid competitive situations that would hurt fellow farmers.
You are probably shaking your head at this point. Seriously, these women are looking for NEW value-added products that they can make and sell instead of tearing each other apart. They are looking for ways to partner with each other in CSA pools or recommend each others products at the markets they attend. They want everyone to succeed! And we should too, because the demise of our country’s small family farms is something we should all be concerned about if we want to continue having a choice in what we eat.
Large corporate farms sow the seeds that are the easiest and cheapest to grow. They will continue to genetically modify them and use chemicals to make the process as efficient as possible. It’s a slippery slope. So if you want to continue to have choice, you should make sure you are doing all you can to support your local sustainable farms.
That includes paying a fair price for the food you buy. What’s a fair price? Is it market or cost driven? How about you go to a farm and spend the day “helping” the farmer and then you decide if that’s what you want to do every day. If it’s not, what’s it worth to you to have that farmer provide you with food for your table? That’s what a fair price is to me.
My ability to eat well and stay healthy depends on their ability to run a successful farm business. More than that, these folks are friends and you wouldn’t want a friend to get fired or loose their home if they were working hard, making good business choices, and living frugally. So leave the change, tell a farmer if she’s selling something too cheap, pay for your class or tour, and give them ideas for new products that you are willing to buy; in other words: anti-up to the table to make sure that farm stays in business.
It is always a true pleasure for me to go out and spend more time in the field and homes of these farmers. I try very hard to use my many years in software marketing/sales to help them understand social marketing tools and partnering strategies as well as market segmentation and price points. I share the information I have on markets and possible business partners. And, in return I learn more each day than I could ever imagine possible. The biggest lesson this week was: keep looking forward. The second: keep extra dog treats with you at all times!