Marketing locally grown from Connecticut’s Young Farmer of the Year
Stacia Monahan, a Shelton farmer, who operates Stone Gardens Farm along with her husband, Fred, was recently named Connecticut’s Outstanding Young Farmer of 2014. based on her achievements in agricultural enterprise, conservation practices and involvement with the community,
The family-operated Stone Gardens Farm, one of Fairfield County’s largest vegetable growers, also sells farm-raised chicken, turkey beef and pork.
Stacia began farming 16 years ago planting vegetables on a two-acre lot and selling them on a farm stand. The operation since has expanded to 50 acres, including a greenhouse and a year-round CSA.
Stacia’s Marketing Tips:
•Email a weekly newsletter to customers telling them what available at the farm and provide useful information: recipes, how to clean and prepare produce, nutritional tips, history and fun facts.
•Hire a knowledgable staff: train them, and hope that they love what they do as representatives of your farm.
•Offer field trips to schools and organizations to help spread the word and market your business to new customers.
•Partner with local chef and restaurants to offer educational and cooking workshops using locally-grown food.
•Profile a vegetable of the month through social media and explain how to cook and prepare it.
•Package and label value-added products that can be sold during winter months to keep your brand name visible
•Chat it up at the local Farmer’s Market. This is an opportunity to share the story of your farm, and to build a loyal customer base.
•Sell your product in a variety of outlets: CSAs, farmer’s markets, on-site greenhouse, restaurants, specialty shops.
•Capitalize on the local foods movement by educating consumers on your products and by mentoring new farmers
• Connect with your customers. “This will be our 7th year providing a CSA for our customers and its the best way to connect the actual grower with the people consuming the product,” said Stacia.
More about Outstanding Young Farmers:
The purpose of the Outstanding Young Farmers program is to bring about a greater interest in the farmer to foster better urban-rural relations through the understanding of the farmers’ endeavors, to develop a further appreciation for their contributions and achievements, and to inform the agribusiness community of the growing urban awareness of the farmers’ importance and impact on America’s economy, according the organization’s website.
The state winner will be invited to compete nationally in the National Outstanding Young Farmers Program, which is sponsored nationally by John Deere.
The last 4 Connecticut winners, Jamie Jones of Jones Family Farm in Shelton, Russell Holmberg of Holmberg Orchards in Gales Ferry, Matt Peckham of Elm Farm in Woodstock, and Joe Geremia of Wallingford, have been national Top 10 finalists.
For more information: http://www.ofafraternity.org