Marketing Makes it or Breaks it

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Mark Gaskell is with the University of California cooperative extension as a small farm and Specialty Crop Advisor for San Luis Obispo County. Gaskell recently told California Ag Today about his work with growers and small farms in the county since 1995.

“Part of my job has to do with applied research and educational programs, and this case related to keeping small farms viable and successful,” Gaskell said. “These activities include troubleshooting problems, helping growers develop new crops and develop new market opportunities that make them more competitive.”

The big question is, what to plant and how to profit from the crops?

“I often tell growers, plan on spending half or more of your time on marketing because marketing is probably more important than growing,” he said. “Marketing is what will draw crowds. It is best to have a marketing plan for your crop before putting your seeds in the ground.”

“Some opportunities are direct sales via farmers markets or farm stand, but more often than not, those market outlets are full and there is a long waiting list,” Gaskell explained.

Growers have to then look at selling through specialized wholesalers and in some of the metropolitan areas, Gaskell said.