When a person goes to the supermarket to buy their produce for the week, they will likely choose the same favourites week after week, and throughout the season, pick and choose a few other items that strike their fancy in that given week. Product diversity runs the show.
When you, a market gardener, plan your season out, you need to consider the fancies of your CSA members and market clients! If you want to compete with supermarkets, you need to offer as much product diversity, seasons permitting. We have observed at the farm that our clients almost always want tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and mesclun mix. That’s awesome, and a great way to start. But if you want your customers coming back week after week, there needs to be some pizzazz in what you’re offering.
Seasonal Offerings: Make your Offer Exceptional
By working in the fields, you have undoubtedly observed the ebb and flow of different products throughout the season. You’ll notice when they grow well, are delicious, and have fewer natural competitors, and when there is a struggle to keep them growing at a proper rate without too much weed competition or weather struggles. Working with the seasons to offer the best version of every product is what you need to do. Most CSA members understand seasonality and crave what is coming next, and if you have what they crave, you will have customers for life.
Our team at the farm eats lunch together every day with products from the farm. We get to experience first-hand the bounty of our labour and enjoy the seasonality of our products. When we have the first tomatoes of the season, it’s pure magic. But that magic doesn’t go away when you have your first onions, potatoes, cauliflower, and winter squash. We have our main crops that we are guaranteed to have at the farmer’s market and for our CSA members, but we also have smaller quantities of “special” crops that make our stall and our online offer exceptional.
Product Diversity: Is the Extra Labour Worth it?
Short answer: Yes! Client loyalty is so important. If your members need to buy their produce from three different farms to be able to buy what they want, they will end up going to the stall that has the most of what they want, and even perhaps compensating for what you’re lacking at the grocery store. Not to mention, adding value to their baskets. Rarely will a client buy 8 cucumbers for a value of $24, but they might buy 2 cucumbers, 1 bunch of kale, 1 bunch of swiss chard, a head of broccoli, a bunch of beets, and 3 lbs of tomatoes for $32. Product diversity will help bring up the value of each CSA basket and each farmer’s market sale will increase your margins over the course of the year. In market gardening, diversity of your product offer is the key to success. Don’t forget to also include storage veggies in your offer to grow your business!