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Organic Market Gardening


Organic Market Gardening: The Basics


Author: Nash Jhon

If you love gardening, you may want to consider getting into organic market gardening on a commercial basis. This can be a way to earn a little money from your hobby, or it can become a full scale business. How far you want to go depends entirely on you. Leave your options as open as you can: your goals are very likely to change and widen as your small gardening business develops.



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In the beginning you will be influenced by how much land you have, or how much start up capital you can invest to buy or rent land. However, this does not have to restrict you in the longer term. You could go into business with others, perhaps finding a partner who has land but does not have your organic gardening knowledge and skills.

Most market gardeners produce food crops but you may want to include some flowering plants for either outdoor or indoor cultivation. You can also sell organic seeds from your plants. Always be open to more ways like these of increasing your output and your business without extra investment of time or money.

There are a few factors that you will need to consider when you are moving from producing food for your family and friends to selling it commercially.

Is It Organic Under Your Local Laws?

The legal requirements for organic certification and labelling are complex and vary in different jurisdictions. Take advice from your local farmers' association or better business bureau on the laws as they apply to you.

You may find that you cannot use the term 'organic' without a history of soil analysis going back several years, or because of pesticide use on nearby land. In this situation, do not give up. You can find another way to describe your products until you can get certified. Something like 'Grown without pesticides' can be a good description for semi-organic food.

What To Sell

You should already know what grows well on your land, but will it be popular with buyers? People consider many factors when buying food. Color, size, taste and a healthy appearance are all very important but so other things.

Does the average person know how to cook that unusual vegetable that your family loves so much? If not, you can prepare an information sheet to instruct them. Do most people like it? What does it taste good with? Does it fit with the customer's lifestyle and food preferences? Does it need refrigeration or special storage?

Where To Sell



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There are an infinite number of ways to have your produce meet potential customers. Write down all you can think of in a notebook and keep adding to it as you think of more possibilities.

Even ideas that you don't want to do or cannot do right now should go on the list. You may want to consider them later. Here are a few to get you started.

  • Prepare a weekly box of seasonal vegetables and fruit for regular customers who pay a certain subscription. Some customers may be willing to collect but you will do best if you can deliver your boxes. You may want to limit this service to the months of the year when your land is producing a good variety of crops, or have a cheaper rate for times when you don't have so much to offer. Ask your customers to return the boxes for recycling, to cut your costs.
      
  • Supply other local businesses. Try health food stores, cafes that offer fresh organic juices and restaurants with health-conscious menus.
      
  • Sell from your front yard if you live in a street with plenty of traffic, or from a public parking lot or roadside. Choose your location carefully because your success with this 'tail-gate marketing' approach will depend on how many people pass, who they are, where they are going, how fast they are traveling and how easy it is for them to stop. For example, men may stop on their way home from work if you are selling flowers in attractive bunches that they can give to their wives, but the same men would not be likely to stop in the morning, or if you were selling potatoes. Also, check whether you need a license.
        


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  • Go to farmers' markets. This is a great option if you have a good farmers' market in your area. Nobody will care if you have a ton of stuff to sell one week and almost nothing the next. There is also a lot of variation in quality and price so you can fit in at your level. You will also make very useful contacts this way with other producers that could lead to new business opportunities or partnerships, and you can advertise any other services that you offer by giving business cards or flyers to buyers.

Getting into the commercial side of gardening can be a very rewarding way to turn a hobby into a business. Of course it also brings some extra responsibilities. Consider these carefully and discuss your plans with all the significant people in your life as you think about moving into organic market gardening.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/gardening-articles/organic-market-gardening-the-basics-3610157.html

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