Shorten the distance from your farm to local consumers with special events. Hosting a farm-to-table meal and supporting the local food supply chain not only provides access to fresh, healthy foods, it boosts your farm’s profitability. You reach a greater number of people, showcase your products, build relationships, and potentially increase sales with dinners, farm events, and restaurant partnerships. Consider experimenting with different types of events to find one that best diversifies your farming income.
Eat at the Farm
If your goal is to promote your farm and create strong relationships with your customers, a meal at the farm is the perfect option. Guests get a behind-the-scenes look at the farm operation, and they get time with you. It’s the ideal opportunity to share your knowledge and passion for farming while winning them over with your charming personality. If the cooking aspect intimidates you, consider hiring a professional chef to prepare the food. Special event rentals for tables, chairs, and food warming equipment turn your working farm into a mini restaurant for the event. Incorporate a tour, let guests have a hand at milking a cow, or plan an informal presentation on your farm operation to turn the meal into an experience.
Host a Member Meal
Do you use the community-supported agriculture model to get food from your farm to your consumers? Technically, the weekly share deliveries are food-to-table events themselves. Try to expand that idea by inviting members for an annual meal at the farm. Highlight different ways to use the produce by preparing a gourmet meal with unique dishes. This event shows appreciation for your members and may help solidify continued membership from them. It also helps create a sense of community among members. Special appreciation events may encourage participants to tell others about your farm, potentially increasing your memberships.
Partner With a Restaurant
A lot goes in to organizing and executing a meal for a crowd. If you don’t feel comfortable or don’t have the facilities to host an event at your farm, try to connect with locally owned restaurants to plan one-time events. Think of them as pop-up shops for your farm-fresh produce. If you live in an area with food trucks, consider partnering with one of them for a day. Food truck dining is a trendy way to support local businesses. Work with your selected culinary partner to create a menu for the meal that showcases your products. Testing the menu items and planning the logistics of the event take some work, so don’t rush the event. When you’re ready to go public with your event, you get double the exposure with both you and your business partner promoting the farm-to-table event.
Supply Food to Restaurants
If you want to participate in the farm-to-table movement without organizing a meal, consider supplying local restaurants that market themselves as farm-to-table eateries. You increase your profits by expanding your list of customers. Commercial restaurants buy at a much larger volume than individuals, so you can really increase your sales with this approach. The restaurants may even list you as a vendor, so customers know they buy local. That’s free advertising for your farm. Supporting the local food system and increasing your business go hand-in-hand. With a little creativity and an event format that fits your business, you expand your customer base, share your quality produce with the community, and see greater profits at the end of the day.