For the most part, Get Your Pitchfork On! deals only with “farming” for one’s personal use, not for retail sale and certainly not for wholesale. However, I do discuss the idea of improving your profit margin on farm-based products by processing them into something more preserv-able and elaborate. This is generally known as “value-added.”
Take raspberries. Delicious. A country favorite! But they are extremely delicate and spoil quickly. If you plan to sell raspberries, your choices are:
- Minimize transportation by selling them at the end of your driveway, or hosting a you-pick field (which brings a raft of other considerations).
- Package them in those decidedly not-environmentally friendly plastic clamshell boxes.
- Expect a large rate of damage, which is basically a financial loss (even if you eat the “losses” yourself).
But—if you take those same raspberries and make them into jam, syrup, or any number of other food items, you not only increase the price and eliminate loss by damage, you have something that travels well and has a much longer shelf-life.
Same with something like lavender. As a fresh crop, it’s basically just good-smelling purple flowers on sticks. But take those flowers and weave them into a wreath, or strip the flowers into a potpourri, or twist them into “fairy wands,” and you’ve got yourself a lovely home décor item! Or, get a little more involved and crush them to extract the oil for soap, lotion and other toiletries.
Splitting firewood is adding value. My friend Jon, who lives in Enterprise, Oregon, saw those $5 piles of firewood that people sell to campers and thought, “I can do better.” So, how did he improve on a great idea? Under the auspices of the Wallowa Mt. Campfire Company, he makes bundles that include matches, newspaper, kindling, and s’mores fixin’s, just for fun!
The most creative value-added item I’ve seen to date was brought to my attention by my friend, Annie, who was traveling through Sisters, Oregon. Her hotel’s grounds featured a small corral of resident llamas. The owners were really smart and, in their gift shop, stocked little stuffed llamas to which they added tags noting which llama it represents and a short description of her. Not only that, they named the llamas after human celebrities. Meet “Tori Amos” …
Brilliant! The hotel owners created a tangible item for a “product” that previously only existed as a memory. Now my friend could take home more than a photograph, and the hotel could keep a little bit more of her money.