One of the most effective marketing tools for small growers is to develop “niche” markets for your crop or product. For every customer who prefers the picked and packaged produce, another would be a customer if you can show them a way to grow their own.
For example, many herb growers offer “value-added” products, such as window sill herb gardens using a theme, such as an Italian herb garden or a Tea Time garden, each containing a mix of three or four culinary or tea making herbs. One grower even markets a window sill herb garden for pet lovers, with catnip for the cats, calendula for the dogs, and echinacea to repel fleas.
Microgreen growers have had success selling window sill and tabletop salad gardens as well. The harvest can be cut and used in the micro green stage, or a few days later as baby salad greens. Using basic black plastic nursery containers and trays, a cutting garden of micro greens can be created, just by adding seeds and potting soil. One grower uses the widely available 1×6 cedar fence boards (He buys them at Home Depot)to create rustic window sill planters that can hold the standard 5×5 plastic liners, for a window sill garden of any length.
Ohio microgreen grower Joan Restivo offers a free workshop once a week to teach the basics of growing ten of the “easy grow” micro greens. Although the one-hour workshop is free, 99% of the participants purchase a window sill garden kit or several seed packets to take home. Her average profit is over $20 per attendee, with around ten students in each weekly workshop.
Microgreen seeds, when purchased in bulk quantities and re-packaged in smaller packets can bring a 400% to 600% markup and still be priced below most retailers. Best of all, customers keep coming back again and again for seeds, for recurring profits that can stretch for years.
Mushroom growers can also tap the do-it-yourself market, with grow-your-own kits in a cardboard box. Raw materials cost very little, and retail prices can be as high as $30.
To tap the huge do-it-yourself market, think about what you can do to produce a simple kit for local customers that will help them save money by growing their own.