Marketing and Promotion
Selling your value-added and farm products at a price that ensures you are profitable is no small feat. Whether a farmers market, CSA, restaurant, food hub, or produce distributor, there are etiquette and standards that a grower must meet. In order to be competitive, farmers must be excellent growers, communicators and logistics managers. The informational guides, hands-on workshops, and educational videos below are listed to help you find the right market for your scale of production and specific product.
Washington State Department of Agriculture
Handbook for Small and Direct Marketing Farms includes insights on the markets available in Washington with pros and cons of each option.
Direct Marketing Strategies
One thing any business needs is customers. This section offers resources to help you find those customers and grow your business. Facts sheets cover selling to schools, restaurants, grocery stores and co-ops. Getting into agritourism, creating buyer's clubs and even donating to food banks are also included in this section.
- Direct Marketing in Washington State
- Selling to individuals: from Buying Clubs to U-Pick
- Culinary Agritourism
- Selling to grocery stores and food co-ops
- Selling to restaurants
- Selling to Schools and Other Institutions
- Selling and donating to food banks
Farm to School Toolkit
This toolkit is designed to provide farms, schools, families, and communities with resources to help them meet their farm to school goals. Through stories, photos, templates, documents and more, the toolkit highlights farm to school and school garden successes throughout the state and draws together best practices and farm to school tips from our in-state and national network partners.
International Marketing Program
The International Marketing Program works closely with Washington State's food and agricultural companies to help them export their products. By providing companies with promotional support, market information and access to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) market assistance programs, program staff help them to find buyers for their products.
A National Sustainable Agriculture Assistance Program by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) No matter what you grow, you'll need to sell it at a profit if you're going to stay in business. These resources can guide agricultural business planning and help farmers manage the amount of risk in their enterprises. In addition, some of these resources offer advice on diversifying, developing new markets, and adding value to farm products to increase income. Several categories of publications are offered:
- Food Hubs
- Organic Marketing and Labeling
- Direct Marketing Options
- Value-added and Processing
- Other Marketing Topics
WSU Farmers Market Research and Data
- Farmers Market Research for Washington State
- Summary Report: Farmers Markets and the Experiences of Market Managers in Washington State
- Highlights of the Farmers Market Survey
- Washington State Farmers Market Overview
- Washington State Farmers Market Management Toolkit
- Washington State Farmers Market Manual (2MB PDF)
- Farmers Market Vendor Booth Guide V1.0 (3MB PDF) (en Español, Spanish version)
Marketing Tools and Services
Puget Sound Fresh is a program of the newly merged statewide Tilth organization (Cascade Harvest Coalition, Seattle Tilth and Tilth Producers of Washington) that provides marketing and promotion through print, online, mobile and social media for farms, farmers markets and specialty forest producers in Washington State. Launched in 1998 by King County, PSF became a program of Cascade Harvest Coalition in 2003 and is the region's leading farm-to-table resource offering comprehensive tools and information to help people make better food choices and find what's fresh, local and in-season from farms and farmers markets wherever they live, shop, eat, work and play. Farms and farmers markets can sign up for the program for an nominal fee. Program components include:
The annual Farm Guide features over 200 detailed farms and farmers market listings is distributed free of charge at more than 600 locations throughout Puget Sound reaching over 300,000 readers annually. The publication is also available online.
Our online directory at pugetsoundfresh.org features 400+ Washington State farms, farmers markets and specialty forest producers. Use the searchable database to locate over 340 farm products and activities, plus CSAs, recipes, events and more. Consumers and buyers can search for products by item, location and more.
The Farm Guide in your pocket! The Puget Sound Fresh mobile app offers quick and easy access to every farm, farmers market, farm product/activity, recipe and event on our website. The app is free for Android and Apple phones.
- Puget Sound Food Hub is run by Northwest Agriculture Business Center and is an online platform that connects buyers with farmers as well as a delivery service. The goal of this program is mainly wholesale accounts such as restaurants, hospitals and corporate campuses. Farmers can join for a fee to distribute farm products into the marketplace.
- FamilyFarmed's Wholesale Success: A Farmer's Guide to Food Safety, Selling, Postharvest Handling, and Packing Produce is the go to manual for wholesaling produce. It is available only in hard copy for a fee.
Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC)
Offers one-on-one technical assistance
NABC's close ties to the market gives its clients ready access and assistance in entering the market place by the best channel of distribution and with a solid promotional plan. Clients will receive one-on-one counseling on the development of marketing strategies, building a strong brand, distribution options, buyer presentation, pricing strategies, new product introduction and the development of an annual or longer term marketing plans. When market opportunities arise from NABC's retail and foodservice networks, clients will be notified on a first priority basis.
NABC is a USDA-designated Cooperative Development Center and provides technical assistance for the formation of cooperatives including cooperative education, articles and bylaw development, incorporating and business formation, and preparation of strategic and business plans. NABC also provides executive management services to support local and regional collaborative efforts, serving the Northwest Cider Association and its 20 members and the Whidbey Island Grown brand and its 25 members.
Washington State University (WSU) and Tilth Producers of WA Farm Walks
- Select Farm Walks feature marketing on these peer and university led educational on-farm workshops.
Washington State Department of Agriculture offers workshops and trainings on direct marketing, farm to school, and exporting. They also advertise events widely through list servs.
Instructional Videos on Permitting Certain Products, Food Processing and Retail Permitting
Direct Marketing - Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA)
Direct Marketing Fruit
Mercadeo Directo - WSDA
Selling to Restaurants
Shellfish and Livestock Farming in Washington - WSDA
Farm to Table Training - WSDA