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Home » From the Commissioner

Ways to Get a New Farm Business Going

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (May 8, 2009)

Recently the New Hampshire Farms Network received a query from Patti Lacasse of Canaan, New Hampshire.  The answer from Gail McWilliam Jellie follows.

Patti wrote: 

“Four years ago I opened my small farm business selling herbs and perennial plants, and fresh cut and pick your own herbs all grown with organic methods (but not cert. org.).

My question is, what exactly do you recommend I do to draw more customers? I have had little success with ads and a web site. We have two acres of beautiful gardens , a greenhouse, and are developing a native New Hampshire  plant sanctuary for educational and ecological purposes. I also do workshops, so far freebees for charity, no one seems interested locally in actually paying for my expertise (40 years of gardening and studying herbs).”

Patti Lacasse
(603)304-9355

 The answer from the New Hampshire Director of Agricultural Development, Gail McWilliam Jellie:

Hi Patti:

It is challenging to get a business going, but there is tremendous interest in local products right now and you should be able to capitalize on this. Where is your farm? What kind of signage do you have to let people know where you are? A well made and well placed sign is very important to let people know you are there and in business. If it’s hard to find you, many people will give up.

Do you participate in a nearby farmers’ market? Not only can you generate some sales while there, but it’s a great way to advertise your farm and let people know they can visit you during the rest of the week.

Are you a member of your local business community? Chamber of Commerce or other local business association. This is another great networking avenue and many of these groups have meetings at member businesses that include tours, etc. Along these lines you could partner with other businesses such as a local B&B or inn where the guests are invited to attend one of your workshops as part of their stay (you work out the payment arrangements with the inn) or you advertise through the inn that guests can roam your display gardens. Partner with a local restaurant to use your herbs in their menu. Perhaps this could grow into an event at the restaurant where you talk about different herbs and their use and the chef prepares a meal for participants to enjoy (using your herbs).

Are you a member of New Hampshire Made (www.nhmade.com)? This is a great marketing option for New Hampshire businesses of all kinds. The New Hampshire  Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food uses the agriculture logo that New Hampshire Made promotes on all of our marketing activities and we encourage ag businesses to join as well. You will be using a logo that has consumer recognition.

If you have not already, you should also consider joining a producer association related to what you produce. A list of New Hampshire organizaitons can be found at www.agriculture.nh.gov. In your particular case look into www.nhplantgrowers.org.

Of course you should be listing your business in our publications and directories, produced by the Department of Agriculture. All of our materials are also on our website which gives you web presence, too. They are free to list your business. And speaking of websites, do you have one? There are many low cost options out there to create a website of your own and this is where many people start their search.

Well, these are just a few ideas. Good luck!

Gail McWilliam Jellie, Director
Division of Agricultural Development
NH Dept. of Agriculture, Markets & Food
25 Capitol St., Concord, NH 03301
(mail: PO Box 2042, Concord, NH 03302-2042)
Tel. (603) 271-3788 Fax: (603) 271-1109
www.agriculture.nh.gov

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