Land in Watsonville and Hollister
Years farming: Andy has farmed
for the last 20 years in various capacities from
farmworker to owner, from large farm to small.
Total acres farmed: 25
Key people: Andy, farmer and
rave king; Julia, farm wife, CEO, mom, email elf,
etc.; España, foreman, tractor driver,
all around repairman; Jose España, head
harvester; Lourdes Duarte, head vegetable packer
Range of crops: greens, root
crops, tubers and herbs, berries, peppers, tomatoes,
garlic, melons, artichokes, and more besides that.
Marketing methods: CSA and 1
farmers market, with a small number of carefully
selected restaurants that pick up at the farmers
Soil type: silty loam
Regenerative practices: cover
cropping, crop rotation, fallowing
Length of season: all year
July 2, 2004: I am the last guy to argue that marketing
isn’t important for small businesses, including farms.
Small farms sometimes fall victim to focusing on growing crops
to the detriment of paying attention to how they will sell
their harvest. To compensate for my lack of education in marketing,
I pay close attention to how other companies market their
products to see if there is anything I can learn. This week
I learned what not to do from the merchandisers of
PyGanic, an OMRI-listed crop protection product.
Marketing is key but, of course, I need to have something
to sell, so I study the product literature and I even scan
the relevant advertisements that pass by my desk. Coming into
the home office the other day, I encountered my wife Julia
in an edgy mood. There was a small toy truck parked in my
“Oh, what’s this?” I inquired innocently.
“A toy truck,” she replied sourly.
I could see that. When I looked closely I could see the truck
had a PyGanic label with the iconic pyrethrum flower on the
side. The tiny toy had been sent to us by the Mclaughlin Gormley
King Company, manufacturers of PyGanic, to attract our attention
to their product. The truck was a replica of an old 50's era
truck; the perfect vehicle to transport a potential customer
to the land of good old-timey feelings.
Unfortunately, it is my wife who picks up the mail. The toy
truck came in an oversized package that wouldn’t fit
in our mailbox, so she received a note to pick a delivery
up at the post office desk. That required a long wait in a
long line for a busy woman with a business to run, kids to
attend to, and an answering machine back home picking up messages
that required responses. Did I mention that the e-mail box
was stuffed, too? If our son was a couple of years younger,
he might play with the truck, but, her look said, I’d
Some advertising whiz probably got a promotion for the toy
Those of us who actually pay to market our businesses
have to think more economically and we have to know our public
better. This weekend at Mariquita Farm we are going to have
a fava bean u-pic-nic as our current promotional effort. Here
is our strategy:
The fava beans have already been grown and we’ve already
sold what we can, so to invite people to harvest some themselves
for a very low price costs us nothing. True, not many people
will want to pick favas but every last person on our 3000
person-strong e-mailing list will like to be invited. Some
folks will come just to stroll around the farm. Experience
has taught me that when people know where I farm they become
more personally invested in my business and are likely to
support us again.
Almost nobody ever hosts a fava bean u-pic-nic. Odd events
like this attract attention with sympathetic fellow travelers
like Slow Food convivia members, restauranteurs, and gourmets.
Plus, it'll give the handfuls of real fava freaks out there
something to talk about with their friends. Word of mouth
is the cheapest advertising there is, but, with such an unusual
event, we might even get some real press from a newspaper
food section editor hungry for a new story.
And I’ll have fun. I”m too old to play with trucks
and I don’t need anymore useless doodads in my life.
But an afternoon around a fire drinking beer and grilling
favas while talking up my farm with appreciative visitors
will be time - not money - well spent. And smart promotion
is what will help this small farm keep truckin'.
Carrots It's astounding to what uses Andy
Griffin's farmers' market customers will put his
kinky, crooked carrot culls. Every carrot has
May 11, 2004
I smart? Carelessness, poor planning and neglect
leads Mariquita's Andy Griffin to discover the
true value of a strange old heirloom crop--black
April 20, 2004
off to the many sombreros of a farmer Quack
lawyer, truck driver, fake chef, and borderline
carnival barker: all in a day’s work for
a farmer like Andy Griffin … and once in
a while he gets to contemplate nature.
April 2, 2004
watermelon radish: Conspiracy from the left or
the right … or just a darned good heirloom
daikon? Those were among the suspicions raised
by this ancient veggie at a recent event in Santa
Cruz designed to introduce consumers to local
March 4, 2004
the influx of cheap Chinese garlic—even
in to Gilroy, the “Garlic Capital of the
World”—Mariquita Farm grows green
spring garlic, and banks its garlic dollars long
before the garlic festival in July.
February 13, 2004
riders of the purple goosefoot In Watsonville,
California, the founders of Mariquita CSA discover
the value of this antique cousin to spinach.
March 23, 2004
is the time for shameless self-promotion He
can't plant, cultivate or harvest--the fields
are a swamp--but Mariquita's Andy Griffin can
sell shares and hustle publicity.