Are you interested in learning how to diversify your farm with pumpkins?
More importantly, how to MAKE MONEY by adding in a pumpkin patch? Well, have I got a treat for you today!
I’m sitting down with my friend Amy France. You probably remember her from a previous podcast episode. The one where she discusses her journey of “city girl” to “farm wife and mom” to Farm Bureau Leader. Wow. She is awesome.
Learn More About Amy in that Episode Here
And for the past few years, she along with her family have been figuring out how to start a pumpkin farm on their wheat and cattle farm in Western Kansas. And she’s giving away all her secrets HERE!!
In this episode, we discuss
- All the ways to diversify your farm with pumpkins.
- Strategies and tactics for marketing and pricing.
- Why it’s so important to allow customers to connect and meet your pumpkin farmers.
For the full interview, listen here:
First of all, Who is Amy France?
- Western Kansas near Marienthal
- Husband Clint + 5 Kids
- Wheat & Cattle Farm
- Started Farmer’s Daughters Pumpkin patch
The idea for the pumpkin patch started with problems and needs their community was facing.
The Problem and Local Need
Their community is very rural with no pumpkin market nearby. They (and others) were having to drive an hour just to get pumpkins!
And the land that Amy and her family farms had a spot very suitable for pumpkins.
What better way to utilize that land than to start growing pumpkins for their community?
Year one was Ornamental Pumpkins. You know. The bumpy, funny shaped ones. Everyone loved them.
Year two was pumpkins and watermelons, since customers were asking for those, too. And who doesn’t love a juicy watermelon in the summertime?
How Did You Come Up With the Name for Your Business?
The name of their family farm is France Family Farm but their pumpkin patch name is The Farmer’s Daughters Produce.
Since Amy and Clint have three daughters, this name was fitting. But even the boys help with the pumpkin patch – the whole family is out there working hard. And that is what makes it so special.
It’s all the family. The kids. Clint and Amy. Friends, neighbors and relatives.
All the work is currently done by hand, making the produce more special.
Read more about low maintenance gardening tips here
Expenses + Income?
Initial expenses included drip irrigation system, the seed and the black plastic tarp.
Every year, they’ve made money just by keeping their expenses low each year.
Amy uses Excel Spreadsheet. They use the square payment system for credit cards.
Is This Easy Money?
No – gardening is hard work. It’s all done by hand, so very labor intensive.
And we talk about something that is so foreign to a lot of people. The money must come in last.
First of all, you must love what you are doing. You must have a passion for the thing that you share with your customers. And you must provide lessons to learn along the way to help you grow.
Then, the money will just roll on in.
Check out some ways to save money with gardening
The Need in the Community
We talked a lot about meeting a need in the community. This was the whole start behind the pumpkin patch and the future of it will be based upon what customers are looking for.
Every business should solve a problem. Every business should strive to meet a need.
This makes your business viable and self-sustaining down the road. Along with great marketing strategies.
Methods of Marketing
Amy sells her pumpkins in a number of ways:
- Honor System
- Donating to good causes
- Market Setting in area towns and a local corn maze
- Off the Farm
- Striving to have the first pumpkins into the market
How to Price Pumpkins
Initially, they sold their pumpkins by weight. But they changed to selling them by size.
There were no complaints about selling them by size. As long as it was all consistent, customers were happy.
Two things to keep in mind:
- Charge enough to make an income for yourself.
- Be competitive but kind to competitors.
If someone doesn’t like the price you put on your pumpkins, let them know that you are competitive with the prices. But they are welcome to shop other places for their pumpkins.
More than likely, you don’t want those customers anyways. You want honest and loyal customers that will love you and your product no matter what.
How the Honor System Stand Works
So, you just set up a stand for your produce. And just leave them there trusting that people will pay for what they take???
This marketing strategy is gaining popularity and I’m even considering doing this with squash and pumpkins.
When you set up your honor stand, you can count how much produce you put in and estimate how much money you might get from it. Be sure to put up instructions so customers can read and understand how the honor system works. That is very important. Communication is key.
Either set a price for each item or allow them to pay whatever they think it’s worth. You’ll be surprised. I’ve heard lots of stories about how great this system has worked.
The truth is, there are dishonest people in the world. But there are even more good, honest people. Trust that those are the customers you’ll get to your stand.
Looking to the Future
What will year 3 and beyond be like? Plans for expanding into a pumpkin patch?
No real immediate plans to expand into a pumpkin patch yet.
She’s definitely planting more smaller pumpkins. School kids, elderly or decorators love the small-sized pumpkins.
Another thing they are doing differently is setting up several different locations for stands. These stands will more than likely be manned and managed by the “Farmer’s Daughters” as they get older.
What Amy Enjoys The Most about the Pumpkins
Having a family business means more family time. They are all there together working as a family towards success.
The kids are also learning great lessons.
Money comes later. Family time and lessons are the most important.