I really dislike the marketing side of sustainable farming. For farms like ours to be economically viable, however, we have to sell our products directly to the consumer. And to do that we have to market.
A dislike for marketing comes along with a love for farming, it seems to me. Folks like us would rather be working in the gardens than out trying to sell things. But as someone from Virginia State University said at a conference we attended recently, if we grow the best food in the world and no one buys it, then our farm will fail.
I don’t like selling stuff any more than I like buying stuff. I’d rather just grow the food and give away whatever we can’t eat. And even though we’re fortunate enough that we don’t have to depend upon the farm for economic survival, we will never have the kind of agricultural community we’re advocating unless young people can take up farming and still get their bills paid.
So even though it is uncomfortable for me, we have to go to the farmer’s market. We have to exhange food for money. We have to a website, a logo and the things that give economic credibility to a business. We also have to do these kinds of things, of course, to get healthy food on more plates in our community.
Of course we’re giving away lots of our food to the needy and that won’t change. And we’ll never compromise our farming practices for a marketing or price advantage. Marketing may be a necessary part of what we do, but it is not what we’re about.
We’re considering bringing on an intern or apprentice to help this summer. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll find someone who likes marketing.