Aug 15, 2008

Rising costs, but good news

It could hardly be considered breaking news if I told you that the cost of our feed, supplies, fuel and sundries has been steadily on the rise. You already know that because the cost of products you buy for your own family continues to climb. Some companies, major ice cream manufacturers for example, have avoided raising prices by decreasing the size of the items, sometimes by as much as 25%

The good news? Wild Heaven Farm has not raised one single price nor reduced the size or quality of any of our products.

This is not to say that economically-motivated concessions haven't been called for. By way of example, Patchouli essential oil is now more than $120 per pound, plus shipping, which yields me 4 batches of soap. Rather than raise prices, I have opted to cut back production on Peaceful Patchouli soaps to compensate for the increase.

The raising cost of everything has a silver lining as well. Just as Americans have cut back on miles driven for the first time in....ever when faced with higher fuel costs, we have been finding new ways to increase efficiency and thrift. Our new cigar band labels, which are almost indistinguishable from the previous ones, allow us to get 20% more labels per page with no wasted margins. (Now if only we could find some way to save on goat feed.)

Don't forget about Arts in the Alley next weekend! And you can always find me at the 17th St Farmers Market on Thursdays from 8:30-2.

Aug 7, 2008

Style Weekly - at it again

An open letter to Style Weekly (its editor, reporters, advertisers, and readers),

Wednesday arrives again, bringing with it a new edition of Style Weekly and another unfair sleight to the 17th St Farmers Market and its vendors. We'll leave aside the preponderance of errors in the most recent article, entitled Fresh From the Farm, and focus instead of its message, overt and implied. The article described each of Richmond's farmers markets, highlighting their attributes but only in the case of 17th St, also its foibles. It gives the impression of poor performance at a farmers market that continues to hold its own, just as it has through recessions, droughts, and hurricanes.

First, the proportion of crafters to growers is mentioned as if this condition is singular to 17th St. By way of example, South of the James Market, clearly the favorite child of this publication, features even more crafters and with less concern for quality, diversity and handcrafted-ness.

Regarding the “outdated” schedule, we openly admit that work-day day-time hours are not ideal for everyone, but then no schedule could be. Many patrons find our hours convenient as they live or work nearby. Additionally, it bears noting that three of the five largest, most successful farmers markets in the nation are open during the work week.

A word on parking. In addition to on-street parking, 17th St Farmers Market has a tree-lined lot mere feet from north end of the market and a large lot just beyond that (entrance on 18th). All these parking options are free for shoppers.

The vendors one sees each week are local small business owners, people with families to feed and mortgages to pay. To survive, particularly in the current difficult economic climate, a vendor cannot afford to waste a single day. They must go where their customers will be to be able to earn a living. The vendors depend on the customers and the customers depend on the vendors. If attendance of one drops, the numbers of the other cannot be sustained. Your disparaging comments only serve to make a trying situation worse for the vendors who appear at 17th St loyally every Thursday, some of whom have for decades. They paint an unfair picture of a fictitiously inferior shopping experience.

Each of the farmers markets in the Metro Richmond area serves a different, distinct community. Each market is, in effect, created by the community which its serves. Each market is a different as their location and their patronage. Given the wide array of venues and days, there is no reason that all five of the markets listed could not succeed simultaneously. Ergo, there is no valid reason to denigrate one market over the others.

In the future, please review your articles for tone and fairness more thoroughly. There is no valid reason to single out one farmers market as superior or inferior to the others, particularly given the considerable over-lap of vendors and the overall pro-farmers-market environment in Richmond.

myself and 80% of the vendors I spoke to today