Marketing Native, New, and Unfamiliar Culinary Plants: Sample Marketing Plan and Tools for Pineberries, Groundnuts, and Other New and Unique Crops

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 02/15/2026
Grant Recipient: Green Garden Foraging, LLC
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Darla Kroft
Green Garden Foraging, LLC


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal summary:

Specialty farmers who are (re)introducing new and unfamiliar
foodstuff to the market face marketing challenges that farmers
who produce traditional products do not face. These challenges
include product unfamiliarity and usage uncertainty. For example,
a customer is familiar with a potato but not with the more
nutritious and flavorful groundnut. A customer walks into a
market and knows exactly what a potato is and what they are going
to do with it; thus, making a quick purchasing decision. From
personal experience, this quick purchasing decision doesn’t
happen when something as uncommon as groundnuts are available for
purchase. It takes considerable effort to inform the customer
about the item (use, growing requirements, nutrition) and move
them from general interest to buying.

Through preliminary research, specialty farmers are still using
traditional marketing methods to market untraditional produce. As
foraged foodstuff comes to market and unfamiliar foodstuffs are
sought by both individual and retail customers, it seems that it
is time to conduct market research into how to market uncommon
produce. The outcome of the market research is to create a more
encompassing set of marketing tools designed to address the
unique challenges faced by specialty farmers.

Project objectives from proposal:


Below are the steps that will be taken to develop tools to help
farmers market unfamiliar and potentially more sustainable

  1. Identify unusual crop marketing challenges by:
    • Reviewing various marketing resources but concentrating
      on SARE projects that focus on marketing uncommon food crops
      (edible weeds, edible flowers, etc.)
    • Surveying farmers and nursery representatives about their
      experiences in marketing unfamiliar produce.
    • Interviewing market representatives and retailers to
      document their concerns on carrying uncommon produce.
    • Surveying prospective customers to help identify their
      concerns in purchasing unfamiliar produce.
    • Recording purchasing measurements such as:
      • Tracking customer conversion, which is defined as the
        time it takes for a customer to move from interest to
      • Recording the number of browsers vs. purchasers
        visiting the farm market booth.
      • Logging the time it takes for a customer to make a
        decision regardless of decision made.
      • Utilizing other evaluation methods suggested by the
        Marketing Consultant.
  2. Investigate solutions to address the challenges identified
    above by:

    • Analyzing data from all collection methods to create a
      marketing story of what is and is not working when it comes
      to marketing novel produce.
    • Identifying marketing tools and methods needed to address
      the documented challenges.
  3. Create a marketing plan and supporting tools addressing the
    identified challenges.
  4. Test, evaluate and revise the newly created marketing plan
    and tools by:

    • Implementing the new marketing plan and tools.
    • Collecting data by using the same methods utilized in
      Step 1.
    • Evaluating the new plan and tools by analyzing data from
      all collection methods.
    • Revise the marketing plan and tools based upon the
      evaluative outcome.

Four crops (listed below) will be used to run two (pre-and post-
marking plan implementation) marketing evaluations. (Steps 1 and
4 above).

  • Chocolate mint as it quickly appeals to customers but not
    purchased because potential customers don’t know what to do with
    it, However, it requires no additional resources1 to
  • Pineberries as they are new to the market and readily
    marketable as a strawberry hybrid but requires no additional
    environmental resources1 to grow.
  • Groundnuts as they have excellent product research data
    already available and are grown commercially in Japan but not
    here. They are also native plants requiring no additional
  • Yacon as it is new to the market possessing little customer
    familiarity. Very limited resources1 are needed to
    grow a plant that produces about 15 pounds of edible tubers
    (combination of online sources).

A project timeline has been attached displaying when various
tasks will be conducted.

The local Washtenaw county farm markets will be used as the
county has a strong farm market presence with all residents
living with 10 miles of a farm market (
Also both the Ann Arbor and Dexter Farm Markets are actively
seeking vendors with unique food items to sell (Applicant
FAQs .pdf (,
MI Farmers Market (

All of these steps will be undertaken in order to create a
self-guided marketing plan and easy-to-use set of supportive
marketing tools that farmers can use to market their unfamiliar

1 additional resources include: watering beyond
rainfall or extensive irrigation, and additional fertilizer
beyond basic compost.


  1. Investigate and evaluate the effectiveness of current methods
    for marketing uncommon produce. This will provide a collective
    picture of current marketing practices already being employed and
    assess if the practice is effective for specialty produce.
  2. Explore and evaluate new methods of marketing specialty
    produce. Traditional marketing plans work well for traditional
    produce but novel or unusual produce may need additional or
    revised marketing tools.
  3. Create a practical customizable marketing toolbox designed
    for marketing unfamiliar produce to customers.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.