Garden For Nutrition Index
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Direct Marketing and Business Model:

Agriculture today is being driven by the profits on the middleman and retail side of the equation. This translates to a push for higher yields on the farmer side so there will be greater profits on the retail side. But that means lower profits on the farmer side. In the long run, farmers must take over the retail side in order to concentrate on greater profits on the farm. Greater profits on the farm often does mean lower yields. But in the long run, it may be the only way the farmer can stay in business.

Each of these sites has excellant comparisons of advantages and disadvantages of each direct marketing type. This is extremely useful since most farms use a little of each of the different types.


Univ Tennessee
Canada
Florida State
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These sites look at the business side of the model more closely. This is very useful because it can help farmers recognize which efforts are likely to yield the greatest return.


Univ Missouri
UC Davis
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Below are some of the better discussions on legal liability for farmers.

Penn State - law
National Ag Law Center
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Factors for success and failure of Community Supported Agriculture.

Rodale
Farm and Info
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Cooperatives are a great way for small farmers to achieve the volume and verticle integration necessary to compete with big business. As long as farmers maintain financial control, the focus can be kept on farmers profits, land health, and community health. As with all business ventures, strong management is the key to success or failure. Internal and external review of management twice a year may be ideal. Below are some good links to management discussions.


Grassroots Economic Organizing
University of Kentucky
University of Missouri
SOLHAAM
USDA - Farmer Cooperative Theory
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Some examples of urban agriculture with direct marketing are listed below. These operations are mainly focused on the highest demand vegetables with the greatest culinary appeal; sweetness, buttery flavor, tenderness, etc. They seldom include the slow turnover vegetables listed on this web site that have higher levels of nutrition, since the demand for them is not high.


Eliot Coleman - European origins
Curtis Stone - urban ag example
The Market Gardener with Jean-Martin Fortier
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The only advice not mentioned much in the above discussions is that farmers may need to structure their marketing and business model with a greater focus on how to deal with extreme climate swings. The crops that require the most inputs to overcome mother nature also tend have the thinest margins and the highest risk. The most profitable small farmers tend to stay away from thin margin crops. Always pursue maximum profit instead of maximum yield. Permaculture is one of the best ways to grow crops and keep costs and risk low in the face of growing climate extremes.

Do not select crops based on flavor alone. Those types of crops tend to be less reliable. Instead, grow crops that are the most reliable and nutritious. Then improve the flavor with value added processing. Processed foods tend to store longer which can also allow you to stretch out the sales across multiple seasons and even sell produce that is visibly less than perfect and cannot be sold fresh.


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