Direct selling

 The direct sale of local products is at the heart of the rebirth of agriculture on a human scale. And it is thanks to this formula that a producer can recover the part of the profit usually paid to distributors and wholesalers during marketing. Most grocery stores or markets in feed take varying profit margins between 35% and 50% of sales. To pay the distributor, who takes care of the transport and handling, it will be necessary to subtract another 15% to 25% of this amount. Thus, for a salad sold for $ 2.00, the producer operating in the distribution channel conventional eventually recovers about $ 0.65. If he does not participate in the marketing, he, therefore, loses a third of the value of its product. It is considerable. In comparison, a gardener who doing direct selling recovers all of the money on the sale. In a way, we can conclude that the latter must therefore produce three times less to achieve the same income.

On another note, the benefits of direct sales are also important for citizen-consumers who, in the context of globalization of the food industry, can new to have confidence in the products they consume. There are different forms of selling direct, called "short circuits" for some years:! 'Agriculture supported by the community (ASC), farmers' markets, solidarity markets, and farm kiosks are some of them. examples. For the gardener, these markets are a niche on which it can rely to hope to establish itself in agriculture and prosper in the long term. The nature of his work meets the need that a growing number of people feel about supporting local agriculture, eating fresh, and reconnect with the farmer.

However, a question arises. Are certain short-circuit formulas more advantageous than others for a market garden? Difficult to answer, because each of the formulas has its advantages and disadvantages, and each farm may have different needs. Perhaps so is it better to bet on more than one formula. That said, ASC has always been the form of betting in a privileged market at the Jardins la Grelinette, because of guaranteed sales and because it simplifies our production plan. I believe that the ASC has several advantages that make it a suitable marketing formula to help a farm starting up.

But whatever the formula (s) chosen, the key is to retain customers and create a bond of interdependence with them. On this level, the best guarantee of success is to bet on the quality of its production. The timeliness of the presentation should never be neglected, in particular by washing its vegetables, by correctly identifying its products with a distinctive logo, or even better, by making your representation in kiosks and drop-off points. We must promote the spirit of short circuits by trying to be welcoming, open, even pedagogue with people who are interested, perhaps for the first time in their life, in a source of what they eat. This is why it has always seemed important to us to be present at the market and delivery points. The producers must never lose sight of the fact that market gardening on a small surface is made possible because there is consumer mobilization in favor of small producers.

Growing value-added vegetables

In 2012, a 2.2 kg bag of organic carrots retailed at around $ 6 in grocery stores, while some carrots sold in bundles were offered at $ 5.50 per kilo. Thus, the value of the carrot has more than doubled simply because its tops are a testament to its freshness. This is what it is about when I speak of "added value": investing your energies in more profitable vegetables. However, to get there, you must first determine which crops are the most profitable. There are various books on diverse market gardening that explore these ideas. The book Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers, written by Dan Brisebois and Fred Thériault, two young Quebec producers, is one that I highly recommend.

On our farm, we did the exercise of quantifying the value of our production by measuring no only the total sales of each vegetable, but also the space and time for their culture. Space, because it is limited and we try to optimize it, and the time, to plan a succession of cultures on the same surface. The table on page 30 illustrates the result of our measurements. With these references, we can by example find that growing cucumbers in the greenhouse is four times more profitable than growing turnips. Or that a rap lettuce board carries as much as the leeks but in two batches less time. Such a tool makes it possible to distinguish clearly the most advantageous crops in our gardens.

While prioritizing the most profitable crops, there are other ways to maximize the potential of a small surface in culture. It is worth it to be imaginative in their strategies for the future to ask for good prices. As in any what business, it is a question of "marketing"; competitive advantages must be developed over grocery vegetables from industry agrifood (whose prices are sometimes very low) or those of other market gardeners present at the same point of sale (which offer products of excellent quality). The box below lists some of the strategies we have adopted at the Gardens de la Grelinette. These strategies are neither very original nor a guarantee of success on their own, but they make a difference for our business.

As the prices vary depending on the quality, succeeding in producing quality vegetables constitutes the biggest challenge of a novice gardener. But a Once this goal is achieved, prioritizing certain cultures and finding creative ways to differentiate your products will significantly increase the profitability of the market garden.