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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Of Melons and Business

Because it is Sunday we had the farm store open from 11am til 5pm. The past several Sundays (127 yard sale excluded) we have had next to no business. Maybe one car would stop but often the people would not buy anything. This has gotten us rather depressed about things (well, that and the damn drought which gets worse and worse each day). This has made us start questioning the wisdom of doing this farming thing for a living (okay we have been doing this full time for over ten years and our sales at the farmers markets are doing very well).

Last week we had a lot of cantaloupes for sale and sold not a one at the store. I was very hot and we had little fridge space for the 'loupes. This meant that by the time the Tuesday farmers market rolled around we had a lot of over ripe "eat 'em right now" melons to sell. So we did a half price on the over ripe cantaloupes and unloaded all of them.

Fortunately today several people stopped at the store and bought melons, among other things and the store made some money.

What I must remember is it takes time to cultivate this kind of business. It took us many years to make $300 in sales at farmers markets (something you really have to do if you do this full time and it is your sole source of income). I takes a while to build up a customer base and of course when we started we had no idea what we were doing. If we did we probably would not have stayed in farming. We had a very steep learning curve as far as growing organically on a small commercial scale went. That and all the wrong equipment. But over time we learned what he hell we were doing and accrued the proper stuff, eventually buying he most important piece of all-a farm of our own.

So now we have this farm and it is on a busy highway (albeit at the top of a hill that has a nasty blind curve on it) and it has a barn and good land and the Farm Store. And because the farm store is not wildly successful from the git go we worry about it. We forget that we have several repeat customers, that we have spend zero funds for advertising (with the exception of $4.95 a month to keep adds off of the Boulder belt Farm web site and buying the domain for that site) and than Preble County is not exactly the center of the local and organic food world (but I am working on that) and that it just takes time to get something meaningful going.

So I end the day in better spirits than I began simply because we had a few people stop and they all bought cantaloupes and watermelons. It would be even better if the threatening clouds would produce some actual rain


Haymaker said...

Keep plugging away. You're outside my AO, but your neighbors need you.

We were fairly dry here to, but got the tail end of the storms that flooded eastern Minn and western Wisc. 3" in three days and the creeks are barely gurgling. Nice steady, solid rain and sprinkles for three days.

Thanks also for posting the tomato roster. I've had success with Amish Paste in the past, but I planted them too close this year. Cherries are going wild. Love Brandywine for slicing.

Brian H., Greenville, WI

Chandira said...

If we lived anywhere near you, my husband alone would keep you guys afloat with his immense love for watermelon! I swear, he lives on the stuff. Give him a good cantaloupe, and he'll be your friend for life..

I hope you get some good customers like him stop by! :-)