Thinking of coming out to sell what you've been growing? We highly suggest reading the following page about the art of farmers market displays. Be creative, but be precise in what you are trying to achieve.
Business development is an intensely creative process. It is an Art unto itself.
Like painting, it is necessary to stop work, take a step back and study what you have done, where you are, and where you want to go next. Working closely on something gets it done, but is not the perspective from which your audience will eventually be viewing the work. This ability to stop, assess and determine the next steps is what sets amateurs apart from Masters. (I am by no means saying that I am there yet ... just that I aspire to be.)
This morning I had a moment of doing just this. The vision of the market is not about simply making a buck, though we do need to pay a mortgage. (Someday, I'll write a book about how this all came about.)
It started out as a desire to see something wonderful done with a neat old building; grew into a desire to be a place for the whole community; and now is evolving even further. Evolution - not in the scientific sense, but in the creative sense - happens as the minds' eye works to understand and form opinions of what the body is creating with some physical medium like clay or paint. It's really amazing! The mind drives the hands to manipulate the material which the mind then tries to make sense of and correct based on an understanding of the nature surrounding the person. (Stick with me... I'm going somewhere with this...)
The point is this: We all need to "put the brush down", take a step back and review our work. Possibly even take a minute to appreciate it. This is especially important when you get to a "stuck" place in that creative process. Writers call it writers block. It happens in the gym too and is called a "plateau". Whatever, it is the very thing that challenges every fiber of our being to either choose to accept where we are, or press on to where we want to be.
So. All this to say that I've done just that this morning. What I came away with was the reality that perhaps the Vision, as it has been put forth, is not quite clear and crisp as I thought it was. (Like in painting, sometimes you need to go back to add highlights, or contrast, in order to cause the figure of choice to step out and take center stage.)
With the Market, the central theme that needs to be further refined and now brought to the forefront is the concept of "Farm to Table."
A friend told me the other day of a young girl who came to visit her farm. The girl disliked eggs, but was interested in the chickens from where the eggs came. My friend picked up an egg, fresh from the chicken and handed it to the girl, who remarked in excitement to her mother that the egg was warm (of course the egg was also a beautiful blue-green due to the breed of chicken). The girl's father attempted to claim rights to the egg under the understanding that the girl had been adamant about not liking to eat eggs. The girl shyly looked up at her father and said, in a barely audible whisper, "I think I am going to try this one."
Many of our kids have a disconnect from their food. Meat does not come from a plastic-wrapped carton from the store. Eggs do not come from a Styrofoam box. Milk decidedly does not come from a plastic jug.
When our children understand the relationship that we humans have with our food, they are better equipped to understand the cycle of life, and to respect the many sacrifices of the farmer, the animal, and even the land. They become ultimately better stewards of all of it. It is these children - OUR children - who will be running the world soon. Have you taught them what to respect and how to steward it, so that when you turn 80 and they are running the world, you don't end up in a box on the shelf? Or will they be the next generation to further develop this notion that everything has to be regulated, imported and scrutinized to the point that we simply can't afford anything better than frozen dinners?
What is Farm to Table? It is simply the education of the consumer to know where the food comes from, thereby causing a sort of grass roots support of the Local Farmer. It's not only important, but the wave of the future, and rapidly gaining in popularity.
It is educating the consumer to be able to make better choices when it comes to food purchases.
How is it done? DEMONSTRATION works best! We are visual beings, and we need to be shown. More importantly, our antiquated planning procedures have attempted to segregate various uses of our community, and have regulated the farms to places "out of sight and out of mind." I am fortunate to live in a community where I can drive by any number of farms, roll down the window and smell the fresh farm air. Many others do not have this opportunity. So, we need to bring the farm to them. While it is great to have folks visit the farm, perhaps it is better to take the farm to the masses.
How will the Mount Jackson Farmers Market do this? Not on our own! It has been said that it takes a community to raise a kid. This is true in Farm to Table. It takes the community, especially the community of farmers and growers. So, perhaps our egg seller will bring a few chickens along to the market to show the kids where the eggs actually come from. Or, at some point, maybe we will be able to have a chef on staff to demonstrate fun and easy ways to take that produce and turn it into a dish the whole family will love! These are just a few of the ideas we are working on; and we are always open to hearing from YOU about things that you would like to see at the Market!
We may start small and grow the market. All good things are about quality instead of simply quantity. Either way, it will be good.
Until next time, take a minute to stop what you are doing, take a step back and evaluate whatever it is you are working on, where you are, and where you want to be. Take it all in. Give yourself a pat on the back for your good efforts. Then get back to work with a fresh perspective.