Kale has become pretty popular over the past few years, and for good reason. It’s a super food, for one, containing large quantities of fiber as well as vitamins A, K and C. Kale is also a versatile crop, reliable through much of the year. It’s easy for customers to cook and easy for farmers to market.
I’ll expand on that last point today, as someone who has sold kale for many years. There are many good ways to market and sell this green, as well as a few ideas for value adding. (Kale chips, anyone?) So let’s dive in.
1. Bagged Or In Clamshells
Several advantages and disadvantages exist when selling something in its own plastic bag. For starters, you spend more time packaging, and more packaging gets wasted (which comes with financial and environmental costs). Plus, if the package gets set in the sun, it rapidly turns into a miniature greenhouse, cooking your kale into something unsellable. However, if they’re kept in shady areas of your market table, bags or clam shells will help retain the integrity of the leaves and prevent wilting from the wind. So in most scenarios, it can certainly be a good thing to package your kale for sale in bags or clamshells rather than big bunches. But bunches have their advantages, too.
Bringing bunches of kale—usually tied with a string or rubber band—can make for a nice visible display. Because customers do love to see the fresh piles of bunched kale on the market table, as they can identify it from a great distance, it might pull customers into the booth. Of course, with bunching, you will have to manage your greens differently than when they are in bags or clamshells so they do not wilt. No one wants to buy greens that are halfway to death, so you must determine a way to keep them looking fresh and healthy. One idea for this is to regularly swap them out with extras that you keep in a cooler. Swap those on the table for fresh ones so the display will stay nice, but also because the displayed kales will rebound in the cold of a cooler. This takes a lot of work, so another great option is to keep them in a small amount of water and a decorative small “tub” and mist the greens regularly. Either method works, but do what you can to retain that fresh look.
Baby greens are a hot item right now and incredibly nutritious. A great way to market kale is to plant it densely and cut it when it’s young to take advantage of those tender greens. This can be sold in either bags or clamshells, though clamshells tend to look nicer on the market table, plus you might be able to sell them at local groceries easier with a nicer package.
Microgreens are one of the most nutritious crops you can eat, and customers love them. They are also extremely profitable for the farmer under the right conditions, so it is worth giving them a second look if you haven’t already. Kale isn’t the easiest micro to grow, but it isn’t the hardest either, maybe a little more challenging than radishes. They take about 10 days to produce, depending on the variety and time of year, but they can be spectacularly simple to grow and sell. Simply package them in clamshells or bags, slap on a label and get them a good display. I recommend a table tower of sorts with a good sign as a nice way to market them.
5. Value Adding
Of course, if you have a commercial kitchen or home processing license, you have the option of turning all of your extra kale into something delicious. Kale chips come to mind—essentially dehydrated and seasoned kale that act as a nice nutritious snack. You could also do kale salads or slaw. I like the idea of kale soups or juices. Kale provides a lot of options for selling, and I say don’t hesitate to play around—customers are always on the prowl for a new way to enjoy this superfood.