At the beginning of this year, I took over the position of Executive Director of Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey. Over the past several weeks, our farming network has experienced an unprecedented surge in consumer demand driven by public concerns about the safety of the fresh produce supply chain, supply of eggs and meat, as well as desires to boost immunity by consuming nutrient dense local organic produce. We couldn’t be more proud of our local farms and businesses who have pulled off an extraordinary pivot – moving to household sized packaging (vs. bulk supply to restaurants and open air markets), online selling, direct to home delivery of pre-orders for families, and changes to farmers market practices to keep consumers safe.
Now, as the President urges states to lift stay at home orders, local farms face another challenge. How can we nurture this new connection with local consumers in order to retain this business? Of course, many will embrace and retain this change in shopping and cooking behavior as we slowly transition back to life in general, because they will taste and feel the benefits of local organic produce, but what about the rest?
Some thought starters for farms to nurture this new businesses beyond the obvious of encouraging CSA sign-ups. Don’t miss this opportunity to continue to build a relationship with your new consumers: 1) Try adding communications to your delivery bags (What’s coming next in the season, quick and easy recipe ideas, stories about the produce you are growing – benefits of salinova, benefits of Kale varieties and suggested uses (massaging for salads, grilling, stir fry, soups, smoothies), the multiple uses for microgreens, virtues of pan roasting versus grilling summer squash), 2) add content for your increased websites traffic (videos of the chicks that are just arriving, stories about growing, challenges of the rabbits and ground hogs, introductions to your team, your farm story and plans), 3) Partner with the local restaurants who have been your customers to offer combinations of fresh and prepared foods for home consumption and maybe even work with the chefs to give quick and easy custom recipes, because most people are sick (or will be tired) of cooking after 21 meals/week for two months or more)! 4) Sell plant starts to consumers to encourage them to grow at home.
If this seems overwhelming, give us a call, we can help. If others have ideas, please share!!