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Book Review

Sell What You Sow!

The Grower’s Guide to Successful Produce Marketing

by Eric Gibson

Published by New World Publishing, Eric Gibson, Box 549, Fair Oaks, CA, 95628, Telephone/Fax: (209) 237-8220.

Most reviews of Sell What You Sow refer to it as a direct marketers dream, which it is. For a marketer, it is difficult enough to find a comprehensive book on food marketing. However, Sell What You Sow guides the reader successively through 32 chapters of marketing concepts and situations. It is also supported by almost 30 pages of resources.

The book also serves a very useful purpose as a course textbook. Currently it is planned as the main text in two upcoming courses: Organic Product Market Strategies (Assiniboine Community College) and Community Shared Agriculture Market Development (Brant County CSA Training), in 1994-95.

In reading Sell What You Sow you realize that the book is not specifically written for organic growers. However, most of the references can be translated for organic product marketing questions. In addition, numerous organic grower situations are cited in the text.

When choosing an appropriate textbook, a course developer looks for size, completeness and variety of topics. This book has all three features which makes it attractive. Firstly, is its size - 300 pages. At over 500 words per page this is a very dense effort by the expert marketer Eric Gibson.

As for completeness, a developer can find virtually everything from getting started through sales strategies through wholesale to promotion to the well-detailed resource guide at the end of the book. Further, when assessing a text’s completeness, a reviewer would look at whether the California-written book only deals with California situations. It doesn’t. This book cites market gardeners, and quotes pamphlets, books, videos, periodicals and extension services from all over the U.S. There were even references cited from the Ontario Ministry Of Agriculture Food & Rural Affairs.

The variety covered in Sell What You Sow is quite surprising, specifically the 50-page section on direct marketing which includes:

• Roadside Markets;

• Farmers Markets;

• Pick-your-own;

• CSA Farming;

• Mail Order.

To take apart and analyze one sub-section at random (Roadside Markets) the reader finds it broken into workable sections like:

• suitable products;

• location;

• facilities;

• parking;

• market layout;

• decor;

• storage;

• safety, etc.

So, in assessing Sell What You Sow: firstly it is excellent for any farmer, market gardener or even city gardening enthusiast looking for a few extra income possibilities. But for the professional developer looking for organic market garden-oriented training course materials, it is equally excellent. A developer can find one or several chapters useful for inclusion in a given course, such as formatting it as:

• required reading and assignment;

• a case-study;

• essay material;

• unused chapters could be assigned as reading only with no testing or assignments.

The $25. U.S. retail price is substantially discounted to colleges or trainer-developers, with discounts up to 50% on one-case minimum orders. At approximately $34. CDN retail, the price is hefty, but you will use the book over several growing seasons so that makes the cash outlay negligible.

Copyright 1994. REAP Canada.

Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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