"The future of food will be defined by small farmers." - Nate Storey, PhD
We're living in a food economy ripe for disruption. Big Ag can't deliver the quality of produce or the transparency of interactions that small farmers can, and that's something motivated modern farmers can get excited about.
The successful farmer takes advantage of this by doing three things.
1. They personally engage with their community.
Successful farmers participate and actively engage with their communities through tours, classes, face-to-face sales, and getting involved in community events.
You'll know that you're engaged with your community when your customers know you by name, and when you find yourself changing your crops, and management based on community feedback!
For example, Sarah Ulloah at Good Taste Farm in Fallbrook, California engages with her community by staying active on social media like Instagram and being present at her Farmers Market - a great place to get to know your customers personally!
Having community support helps farmers find markets, stay in tune with local opportunities, and navigate regulations.
2. They get above market pricing.
The successful farmer chooses pricing battles that he can win; he (or she) finds a niche and uses it to support their pricing. The farmer who tries competing with large field producers in a market that they already rule, however, is going to lose.
Smart Greens sells greens direct to consumer at $12.38/lb for greens like kale and spinach, and $1.94 per head of lettuce. For basil, which is sold wholesale to grocery stores, Smart Greens asks $3.10/oz (or $49.50/lb) in US dollars.
How does Smart Greens have success with these prices?
Smart Greens is able to succeed by understanding that their product is fundamentally different from the others on the shelf, by communicating that value clearly to the customer, and by building on that sale to create a relationship which leads to brand-loyalty.
3. They start with what they have.
The days of capital-intensive farm starting are over; this is the age of the accessible farm start up. Farms are easier to start than ever before using high-density equipment and specialty markets to support the farm while it's still small.
Where starting a farm used to mean investments of over $100K, most Upstart Farmers start their farms with an investment between $10K and $20K by buying scale-able equipment and leveraging specialty markets.
The successful farmer takes advantage of that and scales as they go.
Not only did that allow them to start with what they had but it allowed them to master their farming method and connect with markets personally on a small scale.