Marketing & Sales Series: Pt 1 ~ Comparing Your Sales Channels

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With the ongoing popularity of our Water & Drought Management and Labor & Worker Safety series, we’re excited to announce our next two-month series of blog features about Marketing & Sales. 

This new series will be a mix of practical resources created by our partners combined with farmer stories and useful tips. We are pulling information from branding experts, food safety and value-added food specialists, experienced vegetable and livestock farmers, and farms of all sizes developing their marketing and sales strategy.


To kick things off, we’re discussing the importance of choosing the right mix of sales channels for your operation. There are many issues to consider and many different channels to get your product to the final end-consumer.

Read on as we help you think about your strategy, how to choose the channels that will work for you, and – most importantly – maximize your profit!  Stay tuned for an upcoming feature on competitive pricing and tracking sales.

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Labor Series: Pt 10 ~ New FarmsReach Labor & Worker Safety Toolkit!

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We’re excited to focus the final installment in our Labor & Worker Safety Series on the FarmsReach Labor & Worker Safety Toolkit. It provides checklists, info sheets, spreadsheets, and detailed practical references to help you better manage your employees.

All of our Toolkit resources were recommended by our Featured Farmerspartners and the community, and are categorized by topic:

We hope these resources provide practical ideas and tools to start thinking differently about managing your team!

Below is just a sampling from the new Labor & Worker Safety Toolkit.

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Labor Series: Pt 9 ~ Navigating Labor Contractors ~ Tips from AgSafe’s Amy Wolfe

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Written by guest blogger, Amy Wolfe, President and CEO of AgSafe. AgSafe works to provide employers and employees in the agricultural industry with the education and resources needed to prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. 

In today’s agricultural industry, contract labor is playing an increasingly important role in getting our vast array of commodities to consumers. Whether it’s a result of labor shortages or growers’ desire to minimize the risks inherent in being an employer, the number of licensed farm labor contractors (FLCs) is on the rise to help fill that need. It is imperative that farmers understand the legal parameters for FLCs and how to ensure they are working with a business legally in compliance.

Read on as I discuss the basics of farm labor contractors, how to find those that are legally registered, and what additional paperwork a farmer should request before working with one.

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The Love Lives of Farmers: How to Make Rural Romance Work

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A resettled young couple in Nebraska, 1936. Photo by Arthur, Rothstein/Library of Congress.

This article was first published on Civil Eats, June 2014. This article is now being republished with permission from the author, Kristina Johnson. Kristina is a Bay Area, freelance journalist focused on agriculture and rural life. 

When a friend of mine moved to a rural part of California, she called her new home “BYOB” or “Bring Your Own Boyfriend.” “The pickings out here are slim,” she said.

The problem with this advice was that my dater’s luck in the city hadn’t been so great either. And on the many nights when I waited for a guy to call, I doped up on rural romances. I treated my disappointment with the hope that outside city limits there was a place—Farmland, America—where the cowboys were monogamous and the vegetable growers knew how to ask a girl out.

So I started asking farmers about their love lives with plans to write about what I found. But I also had my own agenda: I wanted to know if I moved to the country whether there would be someone there worth having a relationship with. I was looking for the pastoral version of a romantic cheat-sheet, a farmer’s guide to successful matches.

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El Pais ~ From Field to Table in 24 Hours (in Spanish)

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Report from the Food IT: Soil to Fork Conference at Stanford University, June 20, 2014.

by Rosa Jiménez Cano

“¿Por qué no hacer mostaza con vino tinto, con mi cabernet?”, proclama Barb Stuckey, autora de Taste un libro que invita a explorar nuevos sabores y quiere servir de inspiración para que los agricultores procesen su materia y lo vendan directamente en el mercado.

En el auditorio de la Universidad de Stanford, un centenar de productores, estudiantes con inquietud por dar con cómo será la comida del futuro e inversores con aire desaliñado atienden.

Stuckey, experta en crear nuevos productos, alerta de las tendencias a las que tendrán que adaptarse para mantenerse en el mercado. Instacart , Google Shopping Express y Amazon Fresh son tres servicios dedicados a enviar comida. La de Google no tiene productos frescos, pero sí empaquetados, a domicilio en menos de 24 horas. Se pide por la noche y la mañana siguiente está en casa. Otros optan por recibirlo a última hora de la tarde, antes de volver a casa y ya consumirlo ahí. “Es un nuevo intermediario, con el que antes no contábamos”, advierte, “pero que a la vez es una gran oportunidad”.

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Member Spotlight: Bryce Loewen of Blossom Bluff Orchards

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Sun-dried fruit at Blossom Bluff Orchards

This week we’re featuring Bryce Loewen, of Blossom Bluff Orchards, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Since 1931, his family has been producing a wide variety of high quality fruit. Today, they grow over 150 varieties of CCOF-certified tree fruit on just under 80 acres.

In addition to selling fresh fruit, an innovative part of their business plan is to dry fruit and sell it year-round. During the summer months, the leftover peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots are cut by hand, pitted, and then laid out on wooden raisin trays to dry naturally in the sun. During the cooler fall and winter months, they slice their persimmons and mandarins into thin disks and dry them in an industrial grade dehydrator. So tasty!

Read on as Bryce tells us about how he got into farming, what important pieces of advice he’s learned over the years, and where you can find his delicious fruit!

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FarmsReach Social Media Roundup

On the FarmsReach Facebook and Twitter pages, we post a mix of news, inspirational quotes, photos and more each day.

For those who shy away from the information overload of tracking each of these social sites, here is your monthly “best of” roundup of posts.

If you like, you can “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to access the information flow. Otherwise, we hope you enjoy our digest of best picks!


California drought: 19th-century laws give thousands of users free, unmonitored water, Contra Costa Times
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California’s drought-ravaged reservoirs are running so low that state water deliveries to metropolitan areas have all but stopped, and cutbacks are forcing growers to fallow fields.

Picturing Women Farmers, Modern Farmer
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Audra Mulkern writes and photographs “The Female Farmer Project” — a chronicle of in-depth stories about the rise of women working in agriculture across the country and around the world.

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Organic Life Film: Becoming a Farmer & Maintaining Your Sanity, Too!

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Written by guest blogger, Austin Blair, who is featured in the film The Organic Life.

As an individual farmer, you will face challenges in each farming situation, yet some elements of human nature (and perhaps more aptly, farmer nature) are inescapable. In my limited experience apprenticing on a non-profit teaching farm (Soil Born), running a small farm (now run by another farmer as Lunita Farm Design), and working for another farmer (Paul’s Produce), I have learned that balancing full days on the farm and a personal life is a constant dance.

My outlook was further informed by a supportive, non-farming partner, who certainly has an outside perspective on the issue. She has forced me to confront the conundrum of how to maintain a relationship and still be an effective farmer. (Spoiler alert: we’re married, so it can work!)

This has been my experience farming, and these are the things that have worked for us.

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Birth of a New Nonprofit Organization: the Farmers Guild!

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Last summer, with a shared vision, FarmsReach and the Farmers Guild joined forces to better connect the agricultural community in California. At that time, there was just one Farmers Guild in Sebastopol, which brought together anywhere from 20-50 farmers for a casual monthly potluck. FarmsReach had also recently launched its online platform to build stronger connections between both farmers and partner agricultural organizations.

Since then, both the Farmers Guild and FarmsReach have grown tremendously together.

With the help of FarmsReach’s funding and supportive online community, as well as the donated time and space by Guild member volunteers and Grange Halls, the Farmers Guild has expanded to six more regions, stretching from Mendocino to Nevada County to Santa Cruz – with more to come.

We first highlighted Evan Wiig, the founder of the first Farmers Guild and co-organizer of each of the new Guilds, back in September. Now it’s with great excitement that we announce the formation of the new Farmers Guild nonprofit organization in which he will serve as Executive Director.

Evan has been an infectious speaker and inspiring community organizer for the Farmers Guild and FarmsReach while we have worked together. Below I talked briefly with Evan about his plans for the Guilds going forward!

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Labor Series: Pt 8 ~ Best Practices in Farm Labor Management

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Lunchtime at Gathering Together Farm in Philomath, Oregon

Our Labor & Worker Safety series continues today with tips to improve labor management on the farm. This feature is an abbreviated version of a 2006 study conducted by the California Institute for Rural Studies, written by Ron Strochlic and Kari Hamerschlag.

During the study, twelve farm owners and more than eighty farmworkers in California were interviewed to gain insight into the best labor management practices and the benefits that farmworkers value most.

Read on as we discuss the most outstanding practices identified in the study. It should come as no surprise that farmworkers value what most of us have come to expect or desire from our own places of work: a living wage, respectful treatment, safe conditions, health insurance, benefits, and the ability to advocate for improved conditions without fear of retribution.

We hope the following examples inspire you to think about your farm’s labor management practices and make improvements if needed!

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