Rent Mother Nature Farmer Jill grows a crop of spectacular naturally tree-ripened peaches down Georgia way, but Consumer Jack in North Dakota isn’t going to hop in his car and drive 1500 miles to buy them. She has a number of options to sell her peaches while they’re at the peak of perfection: the local farmer’s market or a charming roadside stand. She might invite customers, locals naturally, to come on over and pick their own. She could ‘put up’ some preserves. Joining a collective to process and market her crop locally or even statewide might be an option. She might venture into subscription farming, food circles, agri-tourism, or contract with local institutions – hospitals, caterers, restaurants. These are all perfectly viable local options
But what if Farmer Jill wants a national customer base? If she’s technologically inclined, she might set up her own web site, and hope her peach-seeker in North Dakota will happen by as he cruises cyberspace. If enough Consumer Jacks want her fabulous peaches, she might invest in a small packing and shipping operation, but one bad crop, one destructive storm, or one shipping strike could wipe out an entire season’s profit.
There’s another option for Farmer Jill: working with a company that provides a ready-made customer base, markets her product to a carefully targeted consumer population across the country, guarantees a fair price, delivers the ripe peach a couple of days after it has been plucked from the tree and is as committed as she to preserving the small family farm, preserving the land for future generations, and growing quality products in a socially responsible way. In order to effectively assist a nationwide network of these small farmers, cheese makers & talented marmalade makers, et al. (i.e. putting the American farmer’s roadside stands on the Internet’s super highway), this company would have to create a brand name that would become synonymous with superb quality, fresh, natural ingredients and distinctive foods made by devoted artisans.