The telltale signs of summer coming to a close are all around the Shenandoah Valley. School buses once again elongate the morning commute, the tomato vines show off more fruit than leaves, and cicadas rhythmically hum in the trees. Perhaps it’s the loss of tomato abundance that flips the seasonal switch or the dip into cooler morning temperatures. Whatever the cause, customers often turn off their “buy local” light once the obvious, overwhelming summer bounty fades. Here at Buy Fresh Buy Local, we want producers and consumers alike to think about season extension and creative ways to look for local – even in sweater weather!
Are you a producer? Whether you have year-round products or not, here are a few helpful ways to encourage customers to buy local all year:
- Create a culture of seasonality with your customers and network: Be honest about what is in season and what is not. Offer classes or workshops regarding seasonality to grow the local knowledge base.
- Connect your customers with other producers who can supply what you don’t: There is an African Proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Use the network of local producers to your advantage. Refer to each other to broaden your customer base and creature a culture of collaboration. Win-win!
- Think outside the box, beyond edibles. What can you use around your farm to market in the off season? Could you be a spot for a local artists group? Perhaps a book club? If you have plenty of natural foliage, consider a floral design seminar or wreath-making class!
- The possibilities are endless! What have you done to encourage customers to buy local year round? Leave a comment below.
What about customers? How can you get involved in your local agriculture scene and support producers year round?
- Eat seasonally, specific to your region. Seek out opportunities to learn about what is local to the area and available.
- Find out which restaurants, bakers, and artisans support local farms. Show your support with your wallet! Make sure to comment to the owner or manager your appreciation for their local buying practices!
- Share your adventures with your friends! Use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others to share your fabulous local experiences.
- What have you done as a customer to shop local year round? Share your experiences in the comments below!
And of course, if you need a starting point as a producer or consumer regarding local venues year round, make sure to grab your own copy of the 2015 Buy Fresh Buy Local guide! From spring greens to Christmas trees and everything in between – we’ve got you covered.