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If you would like to extend the season and increase annual revenue significantly, consider offering value-added products in addition to your fresh produce. You will find that selling even a few non-perishable products can level out income and open doors to new markets. Winter markets, holiday craft shows, local specialty shops, and internet selling sites all offer opportunities for making money after your growing season ends.
Food products, in general, are highly regulated and require some research and possibly investment in processing facilities. They may be well worth it, though, especially if you can develop distinctive products that command a premium price. For example, many New England farmers make maple syrup products that sell well year-round to tourists. Similarly, growers in New Mexico can do well with chili pepper jellies, salsas, and other regional specialties.
Non-food agricultural products may be easier and quicker to develop. The possibilities are nearly endless. Christmas wreaths, live plants, dried flowers, paper crafts, soaps, candles, body care products, lavender sachets, catnip toys, wool, and just about anything else you can make on the farm can become a profit center. If you would like to explore ideas for products that fit your interests and production, peruse the Store Categories at www.localharvest.org. You may be inspired by the high-quality artisanal products other farmers are selling there.
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Reprinted from JSS Advantage September 2011