Plan to Extend 2016 Sales by Observing Market Conditions Now

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon SK 

Crop repertoires always vary from year to year. SPIN farmers aim to change up their offerings, experimenting with exotic crops, and providing those not offered by their competition. Keep an eye out, too, for crops that are in short supply. Right now at my market, onions are in short supply. So my plan for 2016 will include more plantings for storage onions. The demand for garlic is exceeding my supply also, so I will increase my production there too.

There is no cabbage at market, so even though it is a difficult crop to grow for me, I’ll put in a cabbage planting for next year. My carrots and pumpkins/winter squash are selling steadily so I see no need to increase 2016 plantings of those crops.

SPIN photo crop production guide cabbage large head

My point is that you can continue to make money during what is considered the off-season by observing and responding to local food supply. By keeping your customers happy longer, you not only keep your cash flowing, you also ensure their loyalty. You can even gain new customers once their usual farmer is missing in action.

Cipollini Onions Earn Their Keep This Time of Year

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon SK

In SPIN-Farming, every crop has to earn its keep, especially in winter. Onions need to make  me at least $3 lb. I am not going to get that with the standard large onions that  supermarkets offer. And I’m not going to get that from consumers looking to buy a 5 lb. bag for $3 twice a year. That’s why I grow cipollini onions. Here is a $30 order I am about to deliver to a high-profile local restaurant.

SF photo Wally onions tips blog

It took me about 5 minutes to assemble this 10 lbs. bag. The chef is content with the price. At the farmer’s market, I am the only one now with onions, and I keep them in the small to mid-size range, with 4 – 5 onions per bag, to differentiate them from supermarket fare. I sell 1/2 lb. bags at SPIN’s mix-and-match multiple unit pricing of $3.00 each, 2/$5.00, or any five items for 10. I expect to hold my prices at this type of level, and I have never had any one complain.

Cipollini onions have a lot going for them. They are easy to plant, tend, harvest and store. These were from onion sets planted last May/June and harvested last fall, and I’ll have product for at least another two months. Compared to the supermarket, these are mighty expensive onions. But for those who aspire to serve 4 star restaurant meals at home, they’re worth every dollar.

Go for Four Season Marketing

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon, SK

Hey everyone, merry Xmas.

This week we are pushing hard to get things together for a $1000 – $1500 marketing weekend this Sat/Sun. Gail will be coming on strong with her bird feeder craft items, which will probably account for about 20% of sales, or even more.

Produce items will be as follows: All items are $3.00 or 2/$5.00

1/2 lb. bags orange baby carrots – 50 units
1/2 lb. bags mid size orange carrots – 50 units
1/2 lb. bags rainbow carrots -100 units
.10 lb. bags pea greens – 50 units
.10 lb. bags micro mix – 50 units
.07 lb. bags micro greens – 25 units
1 lb. bags fingerling potatoes – 50 units
1 lb. bags purple Peruvian potatoes – 50 units
1 lb. bags onions – 50 units
1 lb. squash/pumpkin slices – 50 units
1 lb. bags beets – 25 units

Also whole squash pumpkin/squash at $1.50 per lb.

And Gail’s bird feeder items. Photos of one of her bird feeder wreaths and her making her pine cone feeder are below. The point is to offer a range of items at various price points from $5 to $35.

This should support sales of $1,000 – $1,500, over the course of two marketing days. Work load is moderate in terms of preparation.  Should have plenty of time to catch some boxing matches on TV. Much of the work was done yesterday and Monday, such as washing carrots and potatoes, in preparation for this weekend. Greens will be cut Thursday and and Friday, with a lot of the bagging done over those two days too.

I’d encourage everyone, especially those who are CSA-based, to get beyond the typical “three season” thinking and push for income by selling throughout the winter at an indoor market. Expanding repertoires to storage crops and micro greens, and diversifying into a craft product line are two good ways to do that. Farming can be a year round occupation, even here in  zone 3 Saskatoon.

Find out how to implement a 4 season plan in SPIN guide # 16.   SPIN Photo bird seed wreaths SPIN photo pine cone lathering seed