publication date: Sep 1, 2009
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An axiom of retail merchandising
is that after September 1, it's autumn. It doesn't matter if the weather
is still hot and leaves won't change color for another month. Nor does
it matter that the start of autumn is officially three weeks away. Once
the kids are back in school, and the days get noticeably shorter, people
want to celebrate the change of seasons.
For growers who
sell at a farm stand or farmers market, September is a good time to
revitalize your display and emphasize the transition from summer into
fall. That doesn't mean your product selection is going to change
overnight; you'll still have summer vegetables, and people will still
want to buy them. But you can change the overall appearance of your
stand just by adding a few new items, and placing them front and center
to attract attention. Here are some ideas for giving your displays an
autumnal theme that will appeal to customers ready to welcome the new
·Bring in some straw bales. Nothing says "fall harvest" like
bales, plus they make handy risers for displaying produce and plants.
pumpkins around the stand (even if just a few at this point), and put
winter squash and pie pumpkins in a prominent position, perhaps spilling
out of an overturned basket.
·After your sw
eet corn is
harvested, cut the plants and gather them into a few shocks simply for
decoration. You may find that people want to buy them for their own
·If you have onions and garlic, make some braids to
hang from your canopy. Again, people may want to buy the braids; you can
either get busy braiding, or sell the ingredients along with
Here's a well-illustrated website
and a good
·If you sell
flowers, make some big, autumnal bouquets in colors of gold, orange, and
bronze. A big bucket of sunflowers will look seasonal, too.
sprouts make a big impact when you sell some as whole stems. To get the
sprouts to be uniform for whole-stem harvest, you should "top" or pinch
out the growing point at the top of the plant when the lower sprouts
are 1/2"-3/4" in diameter. A full stem will develop in four weeks. You
can treat some of your plants this way, and leave some untopped to
provide a longer harvest period.
·Stimulate summer vegetable
sales with recipe cards featuring hearty autumn dishes such as soups and
vegetables. Encourage customers to buy larger amounts for
freezing, and give them advice on how to do it. For example, provide a
pesto recipe and suggest freezing it in an ice-cube tray for flavoring
soups and stews in winter.
·Start seeds now for plants to sell in
a few weeks, including arugula, lettuces, salad greens, kale, parsley,
and cilantro. • Subscribe to Growing for
Market for the latest news and ideas.
from JSS Advantage September 2009.