As the community of freight farmers expands across the US, Canada, and the Caribbean, the diversity in each of their business models also grows. All freight farmers are unique in how they run their business, and they’ve each discovered what works best for them. Depending on where you are located, the food trends and local food scene in your community, in addition to how much time you want to spend distributing, marketing and selling, there are a lot of great businesses that could be a good fit for you!
In last week’s blog post we gave some pointers on how to get started and identified three potential businesses to sell to, and as promised, here are four more!
- Food Co-ops - Are co-ops common near you? Food co-ops are usually run by the community members and are more focused on operating more socially responsible. Co-ops can be more focused on carrying natural, local, and organic foods than large supermarket chains. Twin Cities freight farmer, Ryan Sweeney of Localize, has been successfully selling basil to a few of his local co-ops.
- Public Markets/Farmers Markets - The growing trend of farmers markets has been great for small local farmers interested in selling directly to the end consumer. Does your city have a farmers market? If so, this can be a great place for you to rent a stand or partner with an existing vendor. If you’re not familiar with farmers markets or public markets in your area, it’s definitely worth doing some research to see if neighboring towns have one. Boston freight farmers, Shawn and Connie Cooney of Corner Stalk, are year-round vendors at Boston Public Market and have built a great name for themselves in the local community.
- CSA - Are their seasonal CSAs in your community? Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), or farm share, is one of the easiest ways for the general public to prepay for a designated window of fresh fruits and veggies picked up weekly from local farmers. Partnering with an existing farmer or CSA program in your community can be a great way to spend less time distributing and selling, and spend more time growing in your Freight Farm! Like Crested Butte, Colorado freight farmer, Tassinong Farms, selling your own variety boxes of lettuces, greens, and herbs for weekly pickup can be a great opportunity as your small business farm grows and you become more established in the community.
- Wholesalers - Produce wholesalers can be a great way to distribute an entire LGMs worth of lettuces, greens, or herbs every week. It’s not as easy to partner with wholesalers in the beginning due to their longstanding partnerships with other distribution channels, however, as the demand for more local food increases they are looking for innovative ways to satisfy the needs of customers. The ability to provide year-round access to consistent, high-quality produce is very appealing to these types of businesses! Some wholesalers have even chosen to become freight farmers themselves, like Detroit, MI based LaGrasso Bros. Produce.
It’s very important that you to get out in your community and speak with multiple types of businesses about your future small business farm. It’s not uncommon for the person you’re speaking with to get very excited about your future project and the increased access to hyper-local, chemical free, lettuces, greens, and herbs 365 days a year. We regularly hear from future freight farmers that potential customers say they’ll ‘buy whatever I can grow, they just want to see a sample first!’.
Like we said, despite all the different businesses and places to distribute your crop, it’s important to research and understand the local food trends going on in your community. It’s also important to understand that the most successful freight farmers didn’t begin their small business growing the types of produce or selling to the businesses they do today, but got there by getting started and being flexible with market demands! A small business farm can be a very fluid business, one that allows you to start with a lettuce farm and specialize in more unique lettuces, greens, and/or herbs as new business partnerships develop and your community becomes more familiar with your farm.