Published Aug 3, 2013

TableTop Farm and Grade A Gardens a la Facebook

By Sally Worley
Our summer 2013 edition of “The Practical Farmer” member newsletter features beginning farmers from TableTop Farm and Grade A Gardens and how they have made a name for themselves in just a few years of farming by being savvy marketers. For their other marketing strategies read synopses of their farms found on page 14 and 15. For how they use Facebook to market their farms, read on.

Facebook is fairly young, having been founded by Mark Zuckerburg in 2004. However, its reach over less than a decade is substantial: Currently there are more than 1.1 billion active Facebook users. More and more businesses are turning to Facebook for marketing. Why? For one, it’s free. True, you can pay small amounts of money to boost an ad, but you can also use Facebook for marketing completely free of charge. Also, there are more than 1.1 billion active users. This is a large pool of people to potentially reach. The nature of Facebook presents the opportunity for business promotions to go viral.

TableTop Farm’s Facebook page,

Sally Gran from TableTop: “We do a lot of Facebook marketing. Keeping in touch with customers is very important.” For example, last year when they had early cucumbers, they posted pictures of the first harvest on Facebook. The cucumber post received a lot of likes, clicks and comments. Next week at the farmer’s market, people remarked on the Facebook post and asked to purchase some.

How does TableTop make posts that draw a lot of attention, likes and comments? They center posts around farm photography. Sally says, “Our employee Kristin is a photographer, and always has her camera handy during the day. She takes excellent photos.”

What do I mean by going viral? Sally: “We tell people we’re on Facebook a lot. Each year we tell CSA customers, link a lot to Facebook photos, put a Facebook link on our website, and ask people at farmers market to check out our Facebook page.” This first-hand notification is only the beginning. When friends “Like” TableTop Farm’s Facebook page, the farm’s posts start to show up in their news feed. If that customer clicks like again on any Tabletop posts, friends of that person will also start to see TableTop’s posts. Sally: ”If their friend likes us, chances are they’ve heard of us and might be our customer too, and then they’ll like us.” In addition, they tag people who show up in TableTop Facebook photos.  Sally: “Then their family and friends see it, so we get a lot of cross-promotion.”

Furthermore, TableTop likes things from other organizations and farms in the sustainable agriculture community. Sally: “Not only do we interact with them because we like to see what they’re up to, but also the more interactions we have the more our name gets out there.”

Grade A Gardens Facebook,

Grade A Garden’s Thomas Burkhead says, “We try to do at least one post a day, almost always with a photo.”

Jordan Clasen says, “We stay away from anything personal, political or controversial. It doesn’t take a lot of time to keep Facebook updated. People react to pictures a lot, and it’s so easy to post a photo and caption.” As with other marketing strategies, they keep Facebook positive. Rather than complaining about weather, which impacts the success of a vegetable farm greatly, they poke fun at odd weather events or state thanks for the good weather that comes.

Like TableTop, they tag other farmers and businesses, such as the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market. The Farmers Market has over 26,000 likes; tagging pages like these generates a high amount of visibility.

If you’ve been reticent to log onto Facebook and join the other 1.1 billion who are doing so, now may be the time to reconsider if you are interested in reaching more customers for the low price of free.