Hobby Farming: the importance of marketing

Two years ago my mother and her partner moved to their dream home – a house on three acres, deep in the Colorado countryside. It was a given from the get-go that they would be working toward establishing a small-scale organic farm like one of the hundreds popping up all over the country.

From someone on the outside who had only ever read about the brave new world of hobby farming, I had a few (incredibly mundane) questions: what goals make sense for someone just starting out? And although organic farming is constantly growing and “new” (usually super old, actually) techniques are being created – what companies could be trusted to be true to the organic creed?

I’ve talked about soil and seeds – what does marketing have to do with hobby farming?

The impact of marketing on hobby farmers

There is a lot of information in the world geared toward sustainability and organic growing – so much so that it is leaking into the mainstream. Sustainable living and business practices are necessary to slow climate change, social inequality and a host of other social and environmental ills. In fact, too often “sustainable” and “organic” are being misused by marketing agencies for things that are neither.

As I wrote about in my other posts, my mom and I have go-to brands we rely on like Ecoscraps for soil and Johnny’s Seeds for what we’re going to stick in that soil. But it’s worth noting that we pick these companies not only because of their reliable products but also because of the companies themselves.

Ecoscraps markets their mission along with their soil like including their recycling approach on their bags and stating on their website how many pounds of bad food they’ve helped send into gardens instead of landfills.

Johnny’s Seeds not only have effective germination rates for their seeds but it’s an employee-owned company with fantastic resources like planning tools, calculators, instructional videos, and even a way to ask experienced growers questions through their site.

For people who want to try small-scale farming, hobby farming or even just run-of-the-mill organic gardening (maybe a tomato plant and basil?) they need to know that the products they’re using are products that are upholding their side of the bargain. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more prevalent that people believe the less you hear about something the more qualified it is.

How brands can succeed

How can companies devoted to helping people work toward their own organic and sustainable goals get the word out? Word of mouth works incredibly well, but you need people to try it, first.

For people like my mom and her greenhouse friends, everything they’ve learned about sustainability and organic farming has come from their own inquiries and education. Companies that educate people on how to reach their goals sell more, with my mom and people like her, anyway.

Marketing tools like…

  • Providing education through content marketing
  • Keyword campaigns
  • Influencer campaigns and/or affiliate programs to establish word of mount points of contact within communities

These are effective. But more importantly, providing quality products that are easy to endorse because of their usefulness and efficacy tops the best thing you can do as a brand in this space.

These are all things that have been proven to help companies thrive in existing communities – but also help bring others in. After all, “the more you know…”