Marketing Vintage Varieties

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Fruit and vegetable lovers from throughout Albemarle County, VA, gather with area farmers in a weekly farmers market in Charlottesville that runs every Saturday from April to October. People who desire freshness and variety walk from tent to tent, selecting among the many locally-grown varieties of fruits and vegetables, and chat directly with farmers about their produce and practices.

Aside from increasing community involvement and decreasing energy costs, due to the comparatively short distance required for food to travel from farm to table, farmers markets provide growers with a unique opportunity to market their produce as a distinguishable brand. Participating in a community farmers market is a great way to distinguish your fruit and produce from the masses, as many Charlottesville-area growers can attest.

Connecting With Customers

Charlotte Shelton of Vintage Virginia Apples, a specialty apple orchard south of Charlottesville, encourages growers to participate in community farmers markets. Shelton notes that one of the best features of the farmers market is the access to customers who are increasingly eager for new taste experiences. “Knowing where your food comes from is something that is a growing interest — at the farmers market, people learn about their food and where it comes from,” says Shelton.

Web Masters

Vintage Virginia Apples has a robust website that offers a calendar of upcoming workshops and events., fruit variety descriptions and photos, and an online catalog where customers can order everything from rootstocks and trees to orchard tools like pruners and saws, as well as reference books and gifts. The website is just one more way the business connects with its customers. Check it out at www.vintagevirginiaapples.com.

Vintage Virginia Apples uses the farmers market mostly for retailing peaches — the old, vintage type peaches, like Georgia Belle, Peregrine, and George IV, and the farmers market is useful for delivering these hard-to-find peaches at the peak of their freshness.

Building A Brand

But the real appeal of these farmers markets is the way they allow farmers to market their produce as a certain brand — something that Shelton says is increasingly important. “I think that a small agricultural enterprise needs to develop a brand of some sort, a distinction, and a farmers market is the place to do it.”

Having a brand allows your produce to be remembered by the consumer, and having an opportunity to speak directly with your consumers allows them an experience they won’t forget.

If you’re looking for customers who are eager for new taste experiences, and you’re looking for a new way to present your produce, consider becoming involved with a farmers market. And if you’re ever in Charlottesville on a Saturday in mid-October, swing down to the Vintage Virginia Apples tent and grab one of their Albemarle Pippins, and experience that “brightness, that winey, vinuous quality” Thomas Jefferson used to love.

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