Raising Prices Feb. 1

As a heads up, Elissa and I are planning to raise the prices of our microgreens beginning with the February 1 market. Prices thus far have been $4 for one item (pre-cut clamshell or live 5″x5″ tray), $6 for two items (effectively $3 unit price for two or more items). Our plan is to, on February 1, set prices at $5 for one item, $8 for two items (aka $4 unit price for 2+ items).

Our “customer loyalty” program will adjust with that price increase accordingly. If you haven’t heard about the loyalty program, we wanted to have some way to reward customers who buy from us again and again. So the scheme we brewed up is that, if you sign up for the program (sign up sheet at our table at the market), every 4th market day in which you buy something from us, we’ll give you a free item. This “free item” has effectively been a $4 value, but that value will increase to $5 on February 1. As in, if you’re due a free item February 1 or later, you can still get a free 5″x5″ live tray or pre-cut clamshell despite the prices for those items having been raised. Eggs and veggies (when we have them) would still be freebie options, as well, though no price changes imminent for those.

So why are we raising prices?

Microgreens, it seems, have been generally increasing in popularity nation/world -wide for a number of years, but they are still more or less a niche, specialty product. There just aren’t many vendors around. In this area, maybe one per farmer’s market at best? So it can be challenging to gauge where the market is for microgreens in terms of price per unit. And certainly product quality comes into play, though that is not as easy to quantify. But, as best we can estimate, we have been generally below local market value from the beginning, and in some cases significantly below, depending on the comparison.

Undercutting other farmers, from what we’ve been told, is detrimental in the long run… not only to the farmer doing the undercutting, but also the other farmers who are being undercut. To use a buzz word, you might say it’s “unsustainable”. In our case, we’re still just getting going with this farming experiment, and we have all kinds of ideas for things to try and directions to take the business, but most of those ideas have associated costs to pay before product can be brought to market. The salad mix idea that I mentioned recently, for example, requires some amount of additional infrastructure and up-front purchases before we can bring the first batch to market (hopefully late March). Greenhouse poly, electrical conduit for low tunnels, compost delivery, additional refrigeration for post-harvest (likely in the form of a yet-to-be-built walk-in cooler). And the funds for those items can’t yet be pulled from salad mix revenue… because we obviously haven’t sold any yet :-p So we have a bit of financial shuffling to do, and underselling our microgreens isn’t helping in that regard. And, as far as other farmers, lowballing them on price potentially affects their sales and could cause them to lower price in turn. Enough of that sort of behavior at a macro level can shift the market in the wrong direction, and small farms have a hard enough time staying viable in the business as it is.

Overall, we have been excited and encouraged by the response we’ve gotten at the market since we started attending in late June last year. We absolutely value the relationships we’ve built with our customers over these months, and we want to continue to nurture all of that goodness. From a customer point of view, obviously, nobody likes paying more for something, and there is certainly a risk that this increase will turn some people away and cause us to lose sales as a result. However, not merely staying afloat, but growing over the long term will, as mentioned, warrant investing more time and money along the way, and we’re hoping that the net result of this change will put us in a better position to do that going forward.

Many thanks to anyone and everyone who has come by our table. After the market closure this past Saturday, we’re looking to get back at it this coming weekend (January 25, 9am – 1pm). Hope to see you then!

1/18 Farmer’s Market canceled!

FYI, just got the word that tomorrow’s Manassas Farmer’s Market will be closed due to inclement weather. We had been prepping to bring plenty of eggs and microgreens this week, so if you’d like any and would be willing to drive to our home in Nokesville, please contact us and we can make arrangements. Here’s hoping we can all get back to the market on 1/25!

Our 2020 season starts tomorrow!

Baby cilantro just starting to pop out the true leaves.

We’re resuming weekly market attendance starting tomorrow. Winter market is 9am – 1pm every Saturday until March 28. (Main season market starts in April, and we plan to do that, as well.) This time of year, we don’t have much to harvest from the garden, but we’re full speed ahead on production of eggs and microgreens.

We’ve also started experimenting with herb starts… intending to sell little 3″x3″ pots of single growths of basil, dill, parsley, and cilantro. Those aren’t ready for the market just yet, but maybe in 2-3 weeks(?) Like any other market experiment, we’ll see how people react to them and, if sales are good, we’ll grow more herbs, if not, continue experimenting.

Longer-term than the herbs, we’ve started going down the road toward the magical kingdom of Salad Mix. We’re talking baby versions of lettuce, kale, spinach, maybe beet greens, swiss chard, mustard greens, etc. Salad mix may be a tougher item to take hold at the market, mainly because most of the other produce vendors have some form of bagged greens, bagged lettuce, etc. There’s a possibility that we’d be stepping into a saturated market. But gardening in one form or another is something we’d like to continue to grow (pun intended) with our farm activities, so hopefully we can find a way to differentiate and offer some good variety and quality.

We’ve started transplants of various greens and will be planting the first batch into a bed in the next couple weeks. Following Eliot Coleman’s winter farming strategy of insulating veggies with two layers of protection (outer poly tunnel, inner mesh row cover), we’re hoping that we can at least keep the transplants alive in the ground in January / February… and hopefully, fingers crossed, have something to harvest beginning late March.

Hope to see you at the market tomorrow! Sounds like the weather will be awesome, especially for this time of year.