You've reached the Virginia Cooperative Extension Newsletter Archive. These files cover more than ten years of newsletters posted on our old website (through April/May 2009), and are provided for historical purposes only. As such, they may contain out-of-date references and broken links.

To see our latest newsletters and current information, visit our website at

Newsletter Archive index:

Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

2004 Mid-Atlantic Direct Marketing Conference & Trade Show Beating the Odds Marketing with Fresh Ideas

Farm Business Management Update, February/March 2004

By Gordon Groover

Drought, flooding, hurricanes and tornadoes-the Mid-Atlantic has seen it all over the past year. Add these to the everyday problems farmers face, and it's tough to make ends meet. But the good news is--direct marketers are beating the odds, marketing with fresh ideas! Using innovative approaches to production and marketing, many family farm businesses have been saved from the bulldozers.

Improve your odds by attending the 2004 Mid-Atlantic Direct Marketing Conference & Trade Show (MADMC). MADMC provides opportunities to network with other farmers, visit successful farm markets, and get tips from professors and peers in a variety of educational sessions.

Scheduled for February 22-25, 2004 at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, MADMC will run from Sunday through Wednesday, a change from years past. To avoid traffic snarls, a Sunday tour will include visits to the New Jersey EcoComplex, the C S Heal family farm and market, Johnson's Corner Farm, and Springdale Farms (featured in the October issue of The Vegetable Growers News). Farmers' market managers are invited to a professional development workshop Sunday afternoon.

The Monday program kicks off with the ever-popular Brags and Blunders session, which gives participants a light-hearted opportunity to introduce themselves by presenting their best, or worst, ideas of the season. Prizes will be awarded for the projects that inspire the greatest audience reaction. A keynote speaker, concurrent sessions, and trade show will be topped off by a tasting of Jersey Fresh wines and a silent auction. State associations will meet Tuesday morning and lunch will be held in the trade show.

Concurrent sessions on Monday and Tuesday will be broken into five tracks-Promotion, Farm Entertainment, Labor & Customer Service, Business Management, and Expand Your Business. Monday's Promotion track will feature Robert Farr, The Chile Man, discussing "Direct Marketing for Business Success." Robert and his family have a small farm in Loudoun County, Virginia where they grow a large variety of peppers and make hot sauces. They market their sauces through mail order, festivals and special events, and at the farm. Robert's e-mail letters let his customers know what is happening at the farm, while sharing his philosophies and wonderful sense of humor. The promotion track continues the next morning with more fresh marketing ideas-"Holiday Activitie" by New Jersey's Pam Mount from Terhune Orchards, "Merchandising to Stimulate Consumer Purchases" by David Long, editor of Taste Magazine. James Binsberger from Homestead Orchards in Pennsylvania will present "Managing Special Events and Festivals."

Labor and Customer Service sessions on Monday afternoon will cover hiring and training programs for your employees, as well as communicating with Spanish-speaking employees and customers. The Tuesday morning track continues with presentations on theft prevention, electronic marketing, and the PAFarm Lending Library program, an innovative resource, which should be the envy of other state associations.

More fresh marketing ideas will be found in the Farm Entertainment and Expand Your Business tracks. Sessions about gift shops, greenhouses, herbs, and cut flowers will help if you are considering expanding, while "Targeting Your Customers" will help you assess those new projects. Ever wonder about hosting school tours, birthday/wedding parties, fee fishing, or a festival? You will find those here, too.

Business Management topics will include crisis management, estate planning and family business relationships, as well as a review of USDA's WIC and seniors farmers' market nutrition programs. MADMC '04 is also pleased to have the fresh marketing ideas of three of the Northeast SARE program's Sustainable Educators. Jack Gurley of Calvert's Gift Farm in Sparks, Maryland will discuss his experiences marketing through Community Supported Agriculture. "The Little Things That Mean a Lot" will be covered by Perkasie, Pennsylvania farm marketer James Binsberger. Courtney Haase of Nunsuch Dairy and Cheese, Bradford, New Hampshire, will discuss the challenges and opportunities in direct marketing dairy products.

The educational sessions end Tuesday afternoon with a presentation by Jim Lanard of FLG Strategies on how to effectively deal with the media, be it in a time of crisis or bumper crop. Wednesday's workshops will close the program. Bring pictures of your market layout and displays if you would like an evaluation, or spend the day at Linvilla Orchards for an in-depth look at several facets of this remarkable and highly successful Mid-Atlantic farm market.

Even the trade show will take a fresh approach this year. Sign up with the vendors of your choice on Monday and meet with them one-on-one Tuesday morning for a closer look at their product line.

For a complete conference program and registration materials, call 609-625-0056 or visit the conference web site at

Visit Virginia Cooperative Extension