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Friday, January 17, 2014

Harvest Flip Calendar

Elizabeth Troutman Adams
Hobby Farms Guest Blogger

Harvest Flip Calendar - Photo by Elizabeth Troutman (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Elizabeth Troutman/Bluegrass Goodness

Generally, shoppers who frequent their local farmers’ market understand the notion of "what you see is what you get.” The vegetables presented on the stand are the ones ready to take home to the kitchen, and your experienced customers will be familiar with the local harvest schedule of fruits and vegetables sold at the market.

Even so, rest assured that this spring a market newbie will flag you down from across your stand to ask urgently, "When will your tomatoes be ready?” or "Have you seen anyone selling peaches yet?”

As the farmer who starts the seeds, watches them germinate and diligently nurtures your plants until they bear perfectly ripe and ready products, you have probably memorized the time, down to the day, when you can expect to harvest every type of vegetable from your garden or plot. The local customers who purchase your vegetables at the market are most interested in when that vegetable is going to wind up in their eco-friendly shopping bags. The good news is that you can turn these uninformed shoppers into knowledgeable and loyal clients by educating them about your farm’s harvest schedule.

By providing a simple and easy-to-construct harvest calendar to display at your stand, you can show your customers what vegetables and fruits are currently in-season and give them a preview of what to expect during the months ahead. You’ll also communicate to customers your intent to keep them in the loop of your business, and give them good reason to anticipate new additions to your farm stand as the growing season progresses. Outreach by education is a powerful marketing strategy that will help you build relationships and keep clients coming back for your products.

The Harvest Flip Calendar is a fun educational tool to take with you to the market or share with new customers. If you run a community-supported-agriculture operation, it’s a great way to showcase the vegetables that will be delivered during specific months of the year. You can make this piece at home by using leftover seed packets and an inside-out cereal box, plus a few extra craft materials. You’ll use the images already printed on the seed packets to represent each vegetable that will be available to your customers for every month of the year. Think of it as a catalogue for your farm, only using materials you might otherwise be throwing away!

To create your harvest flip calendar, you’ll need:

  • old seed packets, one packet for each month of the year that you will be harvesting that vegetable
  • used cereal box, carefully dismantled and unfolded, but not torn
  • hole punch
  • glue or a glue gun
  • scissors or a paper cutter and mat
  • six pieces of heavy card stock (for a six-month calendar)
  • permanent or white paint marker
  • ruler
  • twine

Step 1: Plan your harvest schedule.

Harvest Flip Calendar - Photo by Elizabeth Troutman (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Elizabeth Troutman/Bluegrass Goodness

First, make sure you have a garden plan in place. Determine the types of vegetables you’re planting and the month each will be ready to harvest. An additional but helpful step is to write out a chart identifying all vegetables that you plan to harvest during each month during the growing season. You can also find harvest schedules on many farmers’ market websites, such as the one I found here.

Make sure you have seed packets with imagery on the front and that you have enough to represent each month the vegetable will be in season. Following the schedule written out on your chart, group the seed packets based on the month of the year. For instance, I plan to harvest lettuce, greens and turnips in May, so I will group these three seed packets together.

Step 2: Build calendar stand.

Harvest Flip Calendar - Photo by Elizabeth Troutman (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Elizabeth Troutman/Bluegrass Goodness

Now it’s time to turn your cereal box into a stand for your flip calendar. Dismantle the box so it’s one long piece of cardboard. Lay out the box vertically, decorative side down, and cut off exterior flaps and folds, so you have only the mirroring front and back pieces bound together by the base piece.

Harvest Flip Calendar - Photo by Elizabeth Troutman (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Elizabeth Troutman/Bluegrass Goodness

Punch holes into the places where you’ll insert twine to tie together your flippable calendar pages. To do this, at the very bottom of the cardboard sheet, measure 2 inches horizontally toward the inside of the box on both sides, and a 1/2 inch from the bottom of the box. Mark these places with a pencil, then punch holes in those locations. Repeat at the top of the box.

Fold the box so that the bottom end meets with the top end. The figure should look like a triangle, and the holes you punch should meet at the point. Seal the two ends together with hot glue or another sturdy glue.

Step 3: Create calendar pages.
Measure the dimensions of the face of your cardboard stand—this will be the same as the dimensions of the face of the cereal box. Trim cardstock sheets to the same dimensions of the cardboard stand. Measure 2 inches inside horizontally on either side of the sheets and punch holes. There should be one trimmed and hole-punched cardstock sheet for every month you plan to include in your calendar. With a permanent or white paint marker, write a month on each page between the punched holes.

Step 4: Arrange and decorate your calendar pages.

Harvest Flip Calendar - Photo by Elizabeth Troutman (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Elizabeth Troutman/Bluegrass Goodness

Scrapbookers will flourish completing this step. Cut the images of the vegetables on your grouped seed packets into 2-by-2-inch squares. If you want to label each image, cut out the labels, as well. Paste the images and corresponding labels onto the calendar pages.

Want to go an extra mile with your creativity? Give the cut-out images a border with ribbon or scrapbooking paper. Or, write out the names of vegetables with a paint pen. You can illustrate your calendar pages however you see fit.

Step 5: Assemble the flip calendar.

Harvest Flip Calendar - Photo by Elizabeth Troutman (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Elizabeth Troutman/Bluegrass Goodness

Once your pages are complete, put them in chronological order with the punched holes aligned. Then, align the calendar pages with the front of your cardboard stand, and pinch all pages in place. String a small (2-inch) piece of twine through each hole, binding your calendar. Tie the twine and cut the trim.

Your calendar should be ready now for flipping, standing on its own and educating curious shoppers who are interested in your business.

Elizabeth Troutman Adams at The Craft Hub
About Elizabeth Troutman Adams
Elizabeth Troutman Adams is a freelance writer, public-relations specialist and blogger based in Lexington, Ky. When she’s not churning out words, she loves dabbling in the kitchen, riding and jumping horses, improving her home with her own hands, and bringing people together with the sentiment of old-fashioned hospitality. Look for her DIY marketing projects each month on The Craft Hub, and get to know her better at Bluegrass Goodness.

 

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Harvest Flip Calendar

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Reader Comments
I think this is a wonderful idea! I will be making one of these to put in my Farm Stand! It will be a great way to let my customers know what will be available and when. Thanks for sharing!
Maureen, Margaretville, NY
Posted: 2/22/2014 10:38:37 AM
This is a very cool idea. I like it a lot.
Hannah, Bristol, TN
Posted: 1/30/2014 1:18:24 PM
WOW! What a great idea! My husband and I run a small Farm Stand in our community. This is a wonderful idea to let our customers know what will be available and when! You can be sure that I will be making one of these (if not 2!) to keep in the Farm Stand this season! Thank you so much for sharing!
Maureen Downey, Margaretville, NY
Posted: 1/30/2014 10:47:56 AM
This is a great idea for the farmer who sells at the Markets. I go to one near my home and the staff at the market have no idea, (how could they) of when they crops will be arriving at their market. This calendar sure would come in handy. I am sharing this on my fb page Great Growing to let others know of this incredible idea. Thanks
Terry, Maryville, TN
Posted: 1/30/2014 8:50:46 AM
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