Marketing in Urban Environments
The unique characteristics of urban environments offer some urban-specific market niches, such as producing crops that do not transport well, taking advantage of warmer urban micro-climates to produce crops earlier or later than the average season, and cultivating specialty crops in demand by local ethnic populations and markets.
MetroFarm: Growing for Profit In or Near the City by Michael Olson (TS Books, 1994) provides helpful business insights for urban farmers interested in urban market farming.
Marketing to Improve Food Access
Urban farmers often aim not only to be profitable, but also to improve their community’s and city residents’ access to fresh, healthy, local food. Though each of those marketing options noted in the Cornell Small Farms Guide to Farming in New York State, Factsheet #26, does increase food accessibility for urban dwellers, other distribution options more directly intend to promote food justice.
Additionally, there are often designated funds available to subsidize projects that provide fresh, nutritious, affordable food to low-income or other underserved populations.
Mobile markets, for example, enable farmers to reach communities and areas that might not have a farmers market, grocery store, or other place to buy fresh and healthy food. Capital Roots’ Veggie Mobile®, for example, operates Tuesday through Saturday and makes one-hour stops at assisted living centers, public housing projects, and other densely populated neighborhoods in Albany, Schenectady, and Troy (http://www.capitalroots.org/programs/veggie/veggie/).
Programs such as Just Food’s Fresh Food for All improve access to food by connecting farmers within 250 miles of New York City with food pantries and other emergency food programs (http://www.justfood.org/farmer-outreach/grow-nyc/fresh-food-all).
The GrowNYC Wholesale Greenmarket not only makes local produce available to city retail stores, institutions and restaurants at competitive prices and quantities, but also includes food access initiatives such as the Fresh Food Box Program and YUM Fresh Food for Northern Manhattan (http://www.grownyc.org/wholesale).