Farmer’s markets are time-consuming and costly and don’t always pay off. Getting to the markets involve lots of travel time and early mornings. Selling at farmer’s markets requires you to hire extra people, operate a POS system, and pay for registration, tents, and supplies.
While appearing at weekly farmer’s markets can help you spread the word about your farm and connect to local customers, it can also leave you with a lot of leftover produce and lost sales. Here’s how to sell beyond your local farmer’s markets.
Sell consistently and efficiently by bringing your farm online.
Selling online allows you to keep in touch with regular customers and bring in steady income with pre-orders. Pre-paid orders will help you manage the overhead costs of operating a farm.
Online orders are typically larger than farmer’s market orders. The average order size for Airmart merchants is $80, whereas farmer’s market customers usually only spend $10-$30 per purchase.
When you set up an online store for your farm, you can choose to offer pickup or delivery. Airmart is the go-to e-commerce platform for farmers selling online through CSA programs or individual item offerings.
Dried fruits, canned preserves, and in some cases, produce can be sold online and shipped directly to customers. Here are some farms that ship:
- Las Lomas Lavender & Honey ships kaffir (makrut) lime leaves to chefs throughout California and beyond.
- Catalán Family Farm ships salsa, grains, pickled jalapenos, and other products.
If you have the staff and time available to make your own deliveries, Airmart can provide you with route planning tools to make deliveries as efficient as possible.
Apps like Airmart also feature their own delivery services that can handle everything for you.
How to find customers online
Your customers are out there! Here’s how to get online orders:
- Bring your existing customers online: If you have a strong base of existing customers, bring them online with an email list, Facebook group, or WhatsApp group. You can capture this contact information at your next farmer’s market or encourage sign-ups via social media.
- Share on social media: Consider creating an Instagram presence for your farm. If you aren’t sure what to post, read this guide on taking photos at your farm.
- Use SEO in your shop: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will help customers find your online shop when they’re searching for local produce on Google.
- Join local Facebook groups: Airmart farmers have found that posting their products in relevant, local foodie and cultural groups drives customers to their online shops.
Sell to non-profits
Many farms partner with local non-profits to sell their products:
- The non-profit Giving Fruits gathers group orders for produce from farms around the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Narci Organics works with non-profits and local high schools to bring fresh produce to low-income families.
Sell to schools
In addition to their CSA and individual farmstand item sales, Oya Organics also sells produce directly to local schools.
Partner with small businesses
Private chefs, small bakeries, and restaurants are looking for fresh, local fruits and vegetables and other ingredients for their products. Connect with these small business owners to build lasting relationships as their suppliers. These businesses are likely to promote your farm as the source of their fresh, quality ingredients.
It’s time to go beyond the farmer’s market. There’s a world of customers out there for you to tap into. Start selling online and within your community of local businesses and organizations.