- Vegetables: garlic
- Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
I have grown up on an organic farm and have worked in our seed plots since I was old enough to swing a hoe. I have helped with nearly every step of producing seed and gardening from planting, to weeding, to picking produce, helping my mom get ready for farmers markets, and harvesting seed.
My goals were to grow garlic for people in my community, nearby towns, and our farmers market. The purpose of the grant was to help me market my product through a website and take orders for the garlic I produced. This project was supposed to provide me with my own project on the farm and give me a way to earn college money.
1. I ordered seed bulbs in August and planted the garlic in September 2009.
2. I printed brochures to distributed to people I knew asking them if they wanted to buy my garlic.
3. I did not get the Pride of Dakota Directory Listing submitted on time but will be in the 2011 Directory.
4. I was not able to present my youth project at the 2010 Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society's Winter Conference because the conference was held in the middle of the week and I would have missed too many days of school. But I am going to the 2011 NPSAS Winter Conference to do a garlic presentation with Steve Zwinger. Steve is a research agronomist and an organic farmer. He also raises garlic for his farmers' market.
5. I handed out brochures in an effort to develop a customer list but found that I didn't get many orders this way.
6. I weeded my garlic plot, harvested scapes, and then harvested my bulbs at the end of July. We did not sell many scapes. Most people in my community did not know what they were and had never eaten them or cooked them.
7. We tried to arrange a garden tour of our garlic plot but at the end of June the person organizing the event canceled until this summer. It was too late to reorganize and advertise. I planted garlic again this fall. The 4-H club was going to come out for garlic planting but the weather forced us to plant earlier than we planned so we had to plant without them. We plan to hold the garden tour for the gardening club this summer and we told the 4-H club to plan to plant garlic the last weekend of September.
8. We did not hold the garden tour or have the 4-H club help with planting. So we were not able to submit an article to the paper about that. However, just this last week my garlic was used for a photo shoot for Saveur magazine in New York. We hope to write an article about that.
9. We harvested garlic at the end of July and the harvest was very good. We laid the garlic out in a single layer on top of screens in the barn to cure.
10. After a couple of weeks of curing we started to sell garlic at the farmers market. We did not have any pre-orders but did have customers who were waiting for the garlic to come to market. The first day at market we sold the most but each time we went to the market we sold less than the last time.
People do not use garlic fast enough to come back every week. We knew we had to do something different. The person we bought the garlic from was very helpful. She told us that it would be hard to sell our garlic through our own website because not very many people would find us. She told us about a website called Gourmet Garlic Gardens. We decided to set up our website under theirs in hopes that more people would find us. We sold out in five weeks!
My parents, sister, and uncle helped me with this project. My dad, uncle, and sister helped me plant my garlic. My dad cultivated in between the rows and helped me weed the rows. My mom helped me with setting up and printing my garlic brochure. She helped me start setting up my own website and a Local Harvest webpage. But then we decided to work with Bob Anderson and his Gourmet Garlic Gardens website. Kristianna Gehant helped us find him. We set up our webpage the first week of November and we were able to sell all my garlic before Christmas.
My 4-H leaders, Eric and Suzanne Lallum, helped me share my project with my 4-H club members and helped me with my demonstration.
I wanted to sell most of my garlic to people in LaMoure. I only sold about 1/4 of my garlic at the farmers market. This was not what I expected. No one placed an order before we harvested the garlic. I think some of my customers from this year might order some before the next harvest. It is good to try to grow for your community but you have to have another market to help you sell it all. I was having trouble selling my garlic for $10 a pound in LaMoure. I sold it for $16 per pound to people all over the country. They had to pay for shipping too. It takes less time to package and ship my garlic than driving to the farmers market and sitting there for two hours twice a week. I think it is important to have more than one way to sell your garlic or what you produce.
I was very pleased with how much garlic I was able to sell. My parents helped me a lot with this project but I think it was worth the amount of time we had to put in. Next year I will keep a better track of how much time we spend planting, growing, harvesting and selling the garlic.
This project was a good experience and helped me feel like I could really have my own business.
I learned a lot about growing garlic and helped other people understand about growing garlic. I learned that you have to plant them in the fall and how deep to plant them. One person heard that we were growing garlic and he talked to my dad because he had never had any luck growing garlic. My dad asked him what he was doing and he said he planted it in the spring. So he learned what he was doing wrong and hopefully will have more luck with garlic. A lot of people did not know that you plant garlic from the bulbs and that you plant it in the fall.
A lot of people did not know how to cook with garlic and I helped them with recipes and ideas on how we use garlic. A lot of people did not know the different uses for garlic and how healthy garlic is for you! People also learned that there are a lot of different varieties of garlic. I only had three but most people thought garlic was garlic and had no idea there were different types.
One person emailed me and said how beautiful the garlic was and said we can't run out because how would she ever go back to getting garlic from the store?
I worked with my mom to create a brochure for my garlic. I was going to use them to hand out and get pre-orders for my garlic. I found out this did not work very well. So I used the brochures at the farmers market to explain to people the three varieties of garlic I grew and how they were different from each other. I also printed out some garlic recipes for people to use because I found out that most people do not cook with fresh garlic. They mostly use garlic powder or garlic salt. Once people tried it, they would buy more but it was hard to get them to try it without a recipe.
I put together a 4-H demonstration about my project and was scheduled to present it in December but we postponed until the January meeting and had a Christmas dinner instead. So I will give my demonstration on Sunday, January 16.
My mom and I worked to put together a website at www.prairieroadorganic.com. Our website was not on our original brochure and we had very little traffic. So we worked on a LocalHarvest webpage at: http://www.localharvest.org/prairie-road-organic-farm-M40092. We were in the process of making a shopping page when we found out about a website called Gourmet Garlic Gardens. We decided that was the solution. We listed my garlic on the Local Harvest website but used Gourmet Garlic Gardens as our shopping site. This was a very good decision. We were struggling to sell my garlic from August until mid-November when we got our Gourmet Garlic web-page up. We sold the rest of my garlic (75% of it) in five weeks.
The website posting also brought a surprise customer. On December 21 we got a phone call from Max Iatonni at Saveur Magazine in New York, NY. He had found our listing and was looking for garlic for a photo-shoot. He needed it sent overnight to their offices in New York.
He wanted ten pounds so they could have a "mound" of garlic. This was exciting. My garlic was going to be in a gourmet food magazine. He asked if I knew anyone else who had garlic and I told him about Steve Zwinger in Carrington, ND. We are going to do a presentation on garlic at the 2012 NPSAS Winter Conference in February so I knew he has garlic. Max has not told us when the magazine will come out but we will tell the local paper about it and see if they want to do a story about it.
The project report was long but helped me think about what I learned and what worked and what didn't. I don't think I would change it. I wasn't sure how to report how I spent the SARE money I received. My mom helped me do a spreadsheet like the one we filled out when I applied. I started to fill out the form with a pen but thought It would be easier to read if I typed it. My mom helped me to print it on the form and scan it to send it in. Thank you for the opportunity and for everything I learned doing this project.