Courtesy of Jared Regier, Chain Reaction Urban Farm, Saskatoon SK
Starting out as a young farmer in a market with many seasoned veterans is a challenge. We have a thriving farmer’s market here in Saskatoon these days and the large crowds alone nearly enticed me to join in the fun if they’d have me. There was just one thing I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. As a small farmer, why would I want to take my carrots to the market only to sell them right beside another farmer with the same carrots?
Whether I attended the market or not, I needed a way to stand out if I was going to be successful. I spent a significant amount of time thinking about the factors that could potentially set our farm apart from the rest. There are popular vendors at our market that no doubt increase their sales by dishing out jolly remarks all day long, but I am not particularly boisterous or outgoing so it didn’t seem wise to count on my charisma to draw in costumers. I am, however, strong willed, motivated, organized, reliable, and committed to the vision of sustainable local food production. I enjoy pushing my own limits and challenging societal norms. With those strengths in mind, I laid out some parameters for operating our farm:
1. All farm work would be done by bike.
2. All public sales would be membership based.
3. All food would be grown within city limits and without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
Each of these standards of operation takes extra effort on our part but they also define our niche in the market place so we’ve been intentionally transparent about our methods. Now a thoughtful consumer is faced with the choice of carrots, carrots, carrots, or carrots grown by bike right here in Saskatoon. The choice is easy because we’ve given them a story to tell and a chance to be a part of our journey. Will we attract the average customer? Probably not. Thankfully, we don’t want the average customer. We want the ones who already care and standing out is the best way to find them. Define your niche, tell your story, and let the customers come to you.
Meet and learn from Jared Regier and other SPIN members at our online hub for backyard-based growers, Backyard Riches. Membership is available to anyone who purchases our learning programs. Hope you’ll join in!