What a wonderful thing, to be able to tell customers about our farm and to see them come back week after week to support us. The appreciation and enthusiasm we experience is surely unmatched. While I thoroughly enjoy the overwhelming majority of my interactions, I would like to offer some insight from the other side of the table.
When farmers set prices for their produce, they must balance what they think their product is worth with what customers are willing to pay. Those of us who are small, local farmers selling homegrown goods have to factor in all of the time, labor and financial investments that are necessary to create a product we are proud of. And proud of it we are. It is insulting and hurtful to be told that our offerings are “overpriced.”
It’s perfectly okay for you to think that — and I promise we will get the message clearly enough if you simply walk by without buying. But please don’t make us stand and listen to all of the reasons why our product, one in which we have invested so much of ourselves, isn’t worth your money. We all vote with our dollars, and no one expects you to pay more for something than you think it is worth or buy something that doesn’t meet your standards.
On the flip side, we can’t sell our products for less than we think they are worth. If we can’t cover our costs and set some aside, we can’t maintain our business. And it is a business, albeit a very personal one. We work hard for the money we earn on our goods, and we use it to pay our mortgages, clothe our families and save for the day when our bodies are no longer able to dig around in the dirt.
Farming is a risky endeavor, and in a time when so many of us are so far removed from the production of our food, it’s difficult to recognize the gamble that food producers are taking. It is even harder to appreciate the effort required to turn seeds, dirt and water into something not just edible but also marketable, if you have never taken on the task yourself.
Keep in mind, too, that not all shoppers share your ideals. You might place a great deal of value on certified organic produce, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but many other customers are looking for locally grown goods or unique items or heirloom varieties that can’t be found elsewhere. Those little green “Homegrown” signs are more than just a price tag.
They indicate that the produce being offered was grown by the person selling it — it wasn’t purchased from somewhere else to then be resold. Take a careful look next time. If the sign doesn’t say “Homegrown,” or if the sign is white, the product wasn’t grown by the vendor. It’s probably not from a local farm, and it might not even be from Oklahoma.
— Melissa Karner
Correction Last week’s issue of Oklahoma Gazette mistakenly referred to the city’s transit director as Rick Cain. Cain departed the city last year and was replaced by Jason Ferbrache, the city’s current transportation and parking director.
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