Award-Winning Grower Provides Life Lessons On Adapting To Change
There were many reasons that Kurt Alstede of Alstede Farms in Chester, NJ, was named American Vegetable Grower’s Grower Achievement Award winner. One of them was his willingness to change and adapt his business based on what his customers were demanding, and where the market is headed. You can read more about Alstede’s story by clicking.
During the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association Conference in Baltimore, MD, Alstede was one of the featured speakers. His presentation was titled “Decision Points for the Serious Farm Retailer,” but rather than offering a long list of recommendations, Alstede instead opted to share his own experiences and reflect on the decisions he has had to make, why he made them, and what he learned along the way.
A first-generation fruit and vegetable grower, Alstede has worked hard over the years to build, rebuild, and reshape Alstede Farms. Here are just some of the life-changing decisions he shared:
• During the first 20 years or so of its existence, Alstede Farms was mainly a wholesale producer of row crops, with a lot of investments made in heavy equipment. In 2002, the farm went through a major transformation, becoming much more diversified in its crops, and shifting the focus from wholesale to retail and agritainment.
• It may seem like a small thing, but in 2005 Alstede decided to pave their parking lot. Much of their customer base came from surrounding affluent communities, and he didn’t want his customers pulling in driving a fancy car, only to have to walk through gravel and dirt to get to the market.
• More recently, Alstede launched a community supported agriculture (CSA) program this year. While their initial goal was having 100 members, the actual number of members to date is more than double this figure.