Farming garlic is a booming business that continues to grow at a steady pace, as more and more consumers discover the special flavor and taste of gourmet garlic. With so many unique varieties to grow, and so many ways to market gourmet garlic, it’s a great startup business for a small grower who simply wants to turn some extra space in the backyard or acreage into serious profits. By serious profits, I’m talking about the average $8 per square foot returns a capable garlic grower can expect from the backyard garlic patch. Here are eight ways to turn your dirt into dollars with gourmet garlic:
1. Grow what customers want.
This is so simple, but it bears repeating, as growers who expect to earn top dollar from garlic need to grow what is in demand from customers who are tired of the bland, boring garlic sold at almost all supermarkets. Focus on the gourmet garlics, such as Rocambole, Porcelain and Turban, which are in demand from chefs, foodies and anyone who values their amazing range of flavors and “heat,” from mild to eye-watering.
2. Farmer’s markets.
In most towns, the local farmer’s market, whether once a week or more often, draws big crowds looking for the best local produce from the best local growers. That could be you. Set up a stand or stall, and display your garlic bulbs, braids and other garlic products, like garlic powder or garlic vinegar. While you’re at it, put out a sign-up sheet for an email list, so you can let your customers know about when each variety will be available. Farmer’s markets are so popular, they fill up fast. If you’re not able to get a spot, consider asking another non-competing grower if you can share their space or have them sell your garlic at their stand.
3. Grow organic.
These days, this is almost a no-brainer, as more and more food shoppers are putting health first, and insisting on organically grown food. And with the recent stories about imported Chinese garlic being contaminated, it only makes sense to buy local and know your grower. Although it takes a while to officially be considered an organic grower, you can let customers know you are “in transition to organic,” and growing in a healthy way with organic fertilizers.
4. Internet sales.
The widely-known health promoting qualities of garlic may allow you to sell your garlic direct by mail or on your own web site to those interested in premium garlic for personal use. Check out the health-related or food-related magazines on the newsstand to see if there are possibilities there for you. What’s special about your garlic? Was it grown Bio-dynamically? Is it organic? Special qualities like these can attract repeat customers who want the best and are willing to pay for it.
5. Organic food distributors.
More and more growers are using organic methods to produce the healthier and safer foods so much in demand today. As a result, a network of specialized food distributors has sprung up to handle organic foods. They are always interested in talking to growers who can supply quality organic produce. Like any wholesaler, organic produce distributors expect to pay a wholesale price when they buy your crop. So you will get less money, but be able to sell the whole crop at once if you choose. This allows you to spend more time growing (or fishing!)
6. Garlic powder.
Once you’ve tasted the superior flavor of real home-made garlic powder, you’ll never want to buy the mass-produced product at the supermarket. Making it is a simple process – the only expensive piece of equipment needed is a sturdy food dehydrator, like the Excalibur or STX units. Homemade garlic powder has a superior flavor, a much higher allicin content (allicin is the health-enhancing ingredient found in garlic) and is free of the unhealthy contaminants often found in commercial garlic powders. Garlic powder is always a sellout at the farmer’s market.
7. Restaurant chefs.
Ask any chef. They will tell you “fresh is best” when it comes to good tasting food. To sell enough garlic direct to restaurants to make it worth your while, you need to be near a good-sized town or city with several quality restaurants. Another approach used successfully by many growers is to “piggyback” with another grower already selling fresh produce, such as salad greens, to better restaurants.
8. Value-added products.
Garlic growers have several ways to boost their income from garlic by processing the harvested cloves, adding garlic to other products, or creating new value-added products. By taking a few simple additional steps, they can turn their harvested garlic from a commodity to valuable items that can bring top dollar from consumers and double, even triple profits. For example, the market for gourmet foods, like pickled garlic, garlic chutney or garlic vinegar, is growing fast, as more and more consumers are choosing to buy locally-produced foods instead of mass-processed foods shipped in from thousands of miles away. The good news is that the most popular value-added garlic products combine simple ingredients with low-tech processing.
As you can see, there are lots of time-tested ways to earn a good income with gourmet garlic. To discover more about this amazing cash crop, read: Growing Garlic For Profit.