As summer draws to a close, DIY gardeners are busy enjoying the bounty of their crops. More than likely, you were well prepared in the spring as they shopped for everything they needed to get their gardens started. Now, it’s time to help them as they’re gathering their harvest. You can start by stocking up on canning supplies and other food preservation items. But if you want to drive traffic to this category, here are some other ways you can create excitement around the harvest season.
Teach Them How
Gardening and food preservation continues to surge in popularity. Even if consumers aren’t raising the food themselves, they might be shopping farmer’s markets and buying a little extra they can put away for the winter. More than likely, there are some who want to preserve their own food for the first time. And if you want them to buy their first pressure cooker or vacuum sealer from you, consider hosting a how-to clinic to teach them the basics of food preservation. Make sure you include information on food safety as well as a few recipes.
Add Local Flavor
One of the ways you can set yourself apart from the discount stores or grocery chains who may be also selling food preservation items is to sell locally made food items. Look for local companies who may sell pickling spices, sauces or barbecue rubs. This will be attractive to customers looking to put a unique twist on the food they’ve grown, or for hunters who are processing their own meat.
Stir Up Some Competition
Gardeners who have had a successful harvest are usually happy to show off what they’ve grown. With a little creativity, you can find a way to let them show off their accomplishments. Host a contest for the largest vegetable or best fall recipe. Or just invite local gardeners to an event in your parking lot where they can sell their produce, share their favorite recipes and canning tips. This is a good way to acknowledge those hard-working gardeners and might even inspire someone else to try the hobby for the first time next year.
Connect with Urban Gardens
Gardening is catching on with city dwellers, too. More and more urban communities are establishing their own spaces to raise vegetables in a shared garden. Often, they’re run by community groups or nonprofit organizations. Use the opportunity to give back to the community by donating some canning or harvesting equipment to them. Or, you could offer to give a short presentation on canning or food preservation at a community meeting, which will reinforce your position as a destination for garden products.
Support the Fair
Even if it’s too late to do it this year, make plans for next year to support students involved your local 4H organization. If you specialize in farm and home goods, make connections with your local 4H chapter early in the year to let them know you can provide the materials students need to take their projects from start to finish. Then, during fair season, go to the auction as students sell the livestock they’ve raised throughout the year. What to do with the cow you just bought? After processing the meat, you could use it to host a customer appreciation dinner or donate it to a few local families in need.