(This article was updated April 25, 2022.)
You might not think a basket of vegetables is worth driving 484 miles, but when that basket of vegetables comes from a place that’s special to you, logic takes a back seat… !
I first fell in love with the town of Ithaca, New York, as a college student in the late 1970’s. (It didn’t hurt that I also met my wife-to-be there as well.) So it’s no wonder that I look for reasons to return to Ithaca whenever possible.
As it happens, this past weekend was Opening Day for the famous Ithaca Farmers’ Market, perhaps the largest continually-operating farmers’ market on the East Coast. Naturally, I had to hit the road at 6:30AM on Saturday morning to be there for the excitement!
The Ithaca Farmers’ Market is an excellent example of small businesses banding together and using social media to promote themselves. The Market’s Facebook page has over 26,000 “Likes” and more than 27,000 followers. It includes photos, stories, and updates from the farmers and others who participate in “Market” (as it is called). Many of the vendors have their own web presence, with the best of these including blogs, email newsletters, and e-commerce stores — especially important in turning first-time buyers into repeat customers.
Despite the bone-chilling cold, overall dampness, and a light snowfall as I pulled into the Market’s muddy parking lot Saturday morning, most of the vendors had turned out and attendance was good. The farmers who were there had a bountiful assortment of root vegetables (including orange and purple carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, and more), spinach and lettuces, mushrooms, and sprouts. There was also cheeses, honey, wine, breads, meats, eggs, organic body care, clothing and woolens for sale, as well as prepared foods including Thai, Cambodian, Cuban, and Mexican cuisine, and (thankfully!) steaming hot homemade soups which warmed me before my four-hour drive home.
The Ithaca Farmers’ Market is a great example of how small businesses can leverage Internet marketing. Plan on visiting the next time you’re in New York’s Finger Lakes region.