Dear Brookside Farmers Market Customers,
Yes, the rumors are true. . . after nine years, we will be no longer have our tent space at Brookside Farmers Market. In fact, the Saturday May 25, 2019 market will be our last at BFM.
First of all, THANK YOU to all the customers who have come to visit and support our business over the years. We have always felt that the interactions with our customers have always been the most important part of our market experience. The energy both spent and created during our Saturday mornings at Brookside while talking with our customers is unlike any of our other experiences as farmers. We have literally seen families grow and shrink, have made and grown so many friendships, and learned a lot from all of you. The conversations and discussions will not easily be replaced. Moving onward in our lives and business without these Saturday morning sessions with our customers will leave a large gap in our lives. But the change will also create some much needed opportunity for us to engage in many other parts of life that we look forward to.
mportantly- We are still farming! Green Gate Family Farm will continue to grow our certified organic produce and raise our birds for the best eggs, but we have decided for our sanity and physical health that the toll BFM weekends take on us has out-weighed the benefits. The amount of time and energy we devote to BFM is our most significant outlay. Customer relationships are a valuable component of market farming, and Green Gate has received so much back from our wonderful customers. We can’t easily say how much we will miss our BFM friends. Sadly, we must continue to seek to “balance our books” financially, and covering our costs has forced us to reconfigure our production strategies. Farmers from across the country have been reporting a decline in Farmer’s Market sales over the last several years and our farm has been no exception.
Some of you are aware of Katie’s other jobs, including working with farmers and the regional food system. She has seen first hand the struggles that small farm businesses face. Access to viable, supportive markets remains one of the biggest challenges. Retail pricing such as “Direct from the Farm” and Farmer’s Markets are still the best way to support small and local farmers, but unfortunately the percent of consumers buying their food this way has not increased sufficiently.
Green Gate Family Farm has decided to take the energy we expend towards our preparations for BFM and direct it towards our efforts at building our certified organic GGFF online store (with door to door delivery available!), as well as by expanding our CSA membership, and increasing our wholesale farm production (through the KC Food Hub, restaurants, and other outlets).
Many of you know that we drive a long way to get to BFM. While we will not be setting up at BFM our market will continue to be the Kansas City Region (fun fact: did you know Katie grew up in a house less than a mile from BFM?). The difference for us in this new market configuration will be, when we pack the truck for Saturday with products grown and harvested from our farm, we will know that the products we pack have a home and will not be making a return trip. Too many times in the last couple of years too much produce was coming home with us from market. After sitting out for 5 hours, often in over 90F temperatures, it was no longer marketable at the end of the day. This is the reality of all Farmers Markets. Customers want to see full tables in order to be drawn in to your booth, and keeping full abundant tables during market means a lot of extra food waste. The “market left-overs” become unsellable goods that can represent a significant financial loss. While the chickens and ducks may enjoy it, these losses not only encompass the non-sale of the product, it represents our time and labor costs to plan, plant, maintain, harvest, sort, clean, pack, and then unpack for display at market (not to mention the literal blood, sweat, and yes, sometimes tears). So while there is some satisfaction seeing the chickens go crazy for a thrown out tomato (like one that got squeezed several dozen times too many by customers), it is also painful. We offer these details not to sing a sob story or guilt you into something, but simply to iterate the reality of what our business and all market farmers go through. Will we eliminate food waste through this new model? Maybe not. But we hope to vastly improve it and have better control of our harvest to ensure that there is less of our products going to the birds (sorry chickens!).
So in the couple of Saturdays that we will still be at Brookside Farmer Market, please stop by so we can chat and give you a GGFF farm card you can stick on your fridge to remind you we are still working hard in the field growing nutrient dense certified organic food for you. Of course there are other ways to connect with us- you can bookmark our website: greengatefamilyfarm.com, like us on Facebook (@GreenGateFamilyFarm), follow us on Instagram (@green_gate_family_farm), and join our email list.
And, the best way to stay connected is to buy from us and support our farming efforts!! You can shop our products via our Website, GreenGateFamilyFarm.com/shop. We are growing lots of heirloom tomatoes and other goodies this year, and of course our legendary Warren pears and Asian pears will be available in late August/September.
Again we want to say thank you to all the Customers that show up to the market EVERY week. Our business depends on your support.
Katie and Ken