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extended season distribution

Posted by Todd Parlo 
extended season distribution
February 16, 2018 11:02AM
Closing out the last of the pressings for this year made me think about some of these, now, wrinkly apples.

Marketing last year (a boom year for most around here), led me to the following conclusion : things are continually getting tight. Here's the skinny- when things are good, that is, there is a lot of quality organic apples about, the market gets flooded. (Yes I know this is old news). Then a few months later, even at coops and holier than thou markets, in come organic fruits from all over god's creation. This, by and large is our fault. All us small farmers have a tough time affording proper storage, especially higher tech answers. But, if the whole local thing is going to be cracked, that problem needs to be fixed. I am quickly realizing that growing nice fruit is a whole lot easier than mastering storage and distribution. For instance, in our area, we have plenty of organic apples about in the fall and way too few venues. Distribution you say ? Well, reaching out afar has merit, but wait, what if THOSE communities also have fruit growers (that is what we all champion, local food, right?). Which leaves either moving things even farther, to big cities, or (to the point) extending the season. The point has been made in this forum that the easiest way to deal with the fruit is to move it and move it fast. That's perfect, but it fails as a system in glut years. That leaves spreading the season out to 12 months not 4. This all has bearing on fresh market pricing, because setting a price all to often (with competition) leads to undercutting. In contrast, being patient, because your storage chamber is crack on, means you have a lot more control on price. If you can sell a local organic honeycrisp in April, you can charge whatever the hell you want to.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/16/2018 11:35AM by Michael Phillips.
Re: extended season distribution
February 16, 2018 11:52AM
That hits the nail on the head, Todd! I'm currently trying to figure out what I can afford in terms of a cider mill addition on our post'n'beam barn, a key part of which will provide legitimate fruit storage in the form of insulated cooler space. These past months saw the cider apple stash (fifty bushels) in the barn freeze beyond redemption other than being dumped a ways off as a deer detour. Meanwhile, quality fruit in our basement root cellar are great by me but showing too much age to still consider prime for store sales. The always-in-one's-face challenge for growers is coming up with investment funds to get all the infrastructure in place it takes to make a farm viable. You can be creative as all get-out and do much of the work yourself but it still comes down to struggle. And I'm saying this with all the wisdom of one entering his 60s. Crikey.

Plant Trees And They Will Come indeed falls short when the apples are bountiful. What blew my mind this fall was that the weather was often too nice . . . as if my customer base had decided to eat bananas instead of regional fruit just because it was so warm. There's a climate change twist to ponder! I'll take pests and disease any day over humans.

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/16/2018 12:19PM by Michael Phillips.
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