Cut flowers have boomed the past 5-7 years, and many vegetable farmers are seeing significant increases in their profits when they pair a cut flower bouquet with their vegetable offering. Let’s say you want to branch out your cut flower business even more – where do you begin to market this new product? For over 15 years, Michael has worked his way around the farming and cut flower industries to expand their knowledge for a solid foundation in the Specialty Cut Flower Marketplace. Join Michael as he shares his best tips for where to market specialty cut flowers.
Cut Flower Subscription Services
Many growers don’t realize cut flowers’ potential when it comes to CSAs. Not only can cut flowers compliment a vegetable CSA, but there are cut flower-only CSAs and flower clubs that are subscription-based. On a weekly or monthly basis, consumers receive a beautiful, curated bouquet of cut flowers from your farm.
Subscriptions can be promoted to restaurants, homeowners, offices, salons, B&B’s, and more and make a unique birthday, anniversary, or holiday gift.
From Michael: “We had an opportunity to offer our shares alongside a fruit and vegetable CSA from a nearby friend with good success. Be sure to select the right number of selling weeks to fit your growing season that will also allow you some flexibility.”
Location is the biggest deciding factor in how successful a roadside stand will be; a busy street versus a low traveled country road can make a huge difference in terms of sales and profits. Once you have a suitable physical location, create an inviting stand with a clean and attractive appearance.
From Michael: “Our cut flower farm shares property with a vegetable farm, and we found we had better sales if both of us had a well-stocked stand. When the vegetable side of the stand was not well-stocked, we saw our flower sales decrease as well.”
Just like berry farms in the summer and apple farms in the fall, many cut flower farms are offering U-Pick cut flowers. Growers provide a flat-rate container for customers to fill or offer a certain number of stems for a set price. This allows growers to get familiar with growing and managing flowers, while not yet having to take on the cutting and arranging responsibility. Sunflowers are a perfect option for the beginning cut flower grower U-Pick option since they’re popular and easy to grow.
Locally grown flowers are in high demand as brides, grooms and event planners seek out our product. If you have an eye for design and the patience to deal wedding parties and event planners, event florals may be a good sales avenue for you.
While incredibly rewarding, keep in mind that this avenue can be very time consuming when you account for all the planning, designing, and set up of the flowers. Make sure you are giving yourself enough wiggle room through your pricing structure.
A lower maintenance option is to offer buckets or bunches of loose flowers to the D-I-Y customer.
Custom Bouquet Classes
As cut flowers grow in popularity, so does the desire to create spectacular bouquets in consumers. Some cut flower growers who excel in design are offering local classes to customers looking to up their own bouquet game. The class fee includes all the materials the attendees need to create a beautiful bouquet of their own – including flowers from your farm.
Farmer’s markets offer many opportunities to vegetable farmers and are finally starting to gain traction in the cut flower market. Some growers use a farmer's market for marketing their product and building relationships, while other growers, especially those who focus on sales to florists, may use the farmers market to move large quantities of flowers or move flowers that don’t quite make the florist-level quality of cut.
Retail florists have the consumer channel, but sometimes need a hand when it comes to flower supply. Local growers can offer a quality and variety of products that many florists would love to work with but don’t have easy access to.
From Michael: “While it can take some time to build up the necessary relationships with florists, we found that by servicing two to three florists in a day we could make more money than sitting at a market for 4 hours a week. The key to selling to florists is quality and consistency.”
Wholesale florist generally require large quantities of similar product. For a farmer with limited time, this allows you to move a large quantity of product fairly easily. However, this marketplace will bring you the least amount of money per stem compared to the others.