You might not think any basket of vegetables is worth driving 484 miles, but when that basket of vegetables comes from a place that’s special to you, logic takes a back seat to romanticism.
I fell in love with Ithaca, New York, as a college hippie in the 1970’s (it also didn’t hurt that I fell in love with my wife there, too) and I often look for opportunities to return there. So when I learned that this past weekend was Opening Day for the famous Ithaca Farmers’ Market, I simply had to hit the road at 6:30 Saturday morning to be there.
The Ithaca Farmers’ Market is an excellent example of small businesses banding together and using social media to promote themselves and grow. The market’s Facebook page has over 8,500 “Likes” and includes photos and stories of the farmers and others who sell produce and goods at the market. Several of the farmers and vendors themselves have their own Facebook presence, and many have websites as well. The best of these include blogs, email newsletters, and e-commerce capability (an essential component in turning a first-time buyer into a repeat customer).
Despite the bone-chilling cold, overall dampness, and a light snowfall as I pulled into the market’s muddy parking lot Saturday morning, most of the vendors had turned out and attendance was good. The farmers who were there had a bountiful assortment of root vegetables (including orange and purple carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, and more), spinach and lettuces, mushrooms, and sprouts. There was also cheeses, honey, wine, breads, meats, eggs, organic body care, clothing and woolens for sale, as well as prepared foods including Thai, Cambodian, Cuban, Mexican, and more, and (thankfully!) steaming hot homemade soups which warmed me before starting back on my four-hour return trip.
A strong Internet presence is essential for all businesses to succeed, and the Ithaca Farmers’ Market is a great example of how small businesses can take advantage of Internet marketing. I hope you’ll visit there next time you’re in New York’s Finger Lakes region.