Marketing Ideas for a Bumper Crop of Cantaloupes

VotumAugust 5, 2012

Greetings,

I only plant melons for the CSA and typically aim for every two week harvest with one melon per member share. However this year I have a massive crop of cantaloupes, the biggest I have every seen. Even if I give every member two melons a week I am still going to be having 10-15 extra a week.

The restaraunt and caterers aren't interested, and I can only sell what is listed on my contract at the Farmer's Markets I attend, and melons aren't listed. Any ideas? The only thing I am coming up with is a stand on the honor system.

I have never seen this level of production on melons before, I grow Sarah's Choice. I have been harvesting for two weeks now, and the plants are still putting on melons. I have one plant that has 21 melons on it, in various stages, and it is still flowering?

Thanks

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lazy_gardens

Try Craigslist ...

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 2:17PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

You are the second person I have heard of, in the last two days, who says they have a market contract and can only sell what is on their contract. The other person said that only certain people can bring certain things. They have 2 or 3 people who can sell tomatoes, several sell melons and etc.

If it were me, I would walk away from a market like that. It is like a monopoly and IMO bad for the consumers. What if the person that sells tomatoes are really bad and don't taste good? What if mine taste much better, the customers never get to try them. What about a crop failure, hailstorm? If you allowed everyone to sell what they want, then the customers will talk and the person with the best stuff will get more business and the poorer tomato person will sell less. Why restrict your customers options?

Just wondering.

About selling cantaloupes, why not offer them to your CSA customers for additional charge. I know some families who would eat 3 to 5 melons a week, during the season.

Jay

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 3:15PM
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myfamilysfarm

I've sold 200 in one day at a farmers market. Yes craigslist is an option. I sold 75 lbs of tomatoes to one person. You could give the extra to the food bank, instead of them going bad. Also, cows like them, if you have them.

Believe me, the best thing our kids have done was bringing cows/calves onto the farm. Great garbage disposals, within limit. Certain things they can't have, but most of our stuff that doesn't sell goes to them. When one gets out, we tease them back into the fence with tomatoes, watermelons or whatever we have extra. Produce makes some of the leanest beef that you can get. Actually too lean for some people, they have actually complained about being too lean.

Marla

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 6:18PM
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Slimy_Okra(2b)

I agree with Jay (although from a practical point of view, sometimes vendors are powerless to do anything if there is only one major farmers' market in the area). The whole concept of a farmers' market is defeated when management insists on one or very few vendors producing an item. If customers wanted that sort of thing, they would go to the supermarket. We have that at my market (although it's not explicitly stated, it's there alright) and I find it sad, really, because the farmers' market then becomes a glorified shopping mall.

Can you try modifying the contract by adding cantaloupes?

Do you know any local ice cream producers, bakers, etc who would be interested in producing a value-added product of cantaloupe ice cream or cakes or pies?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 6:19PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Congrats on your bumper crop!
When I have more melons than my farmers market stand can handle I start calling B&B's in the area. They usually don't want to buy my other produce as they use very little, but they will usually take 10-20 melons a week.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 9:37PM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

Make jam and distribute that to your CSA. I did that last year and my member LOVED it

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 5:15AM
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myfamilysfarm

Ever try pickled cantalope, it's good.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 11:48AM
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2ajsmama

Ball Complete has a recipe for pickled cantaloupe. I couldn't find a recipe from Ball or on NCHFP for any kind of melon jam (though Ball Complete also has a watermelon jelly recipe - with 1/2C of vinegar). You have to be careful since melons are low-acid (pH around 6).

Boulderbelt, what was the source of your recipe? I did find one on UC Davis site for Peach-Cantaloupe jam but peaches are high-acid and it's half peach half cantaloupe.

Here is a link that might be useful: UC Davis cantaloupe brochure

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 4:06PM
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Votum

Thanks for the ideas. Livestock is always an option. Chickens, pigs, and beef cows are part of the farm, and get about 50% of the produce that is either unsellable or doesn't move, the rest goes on the compost piles. I hadn't thought about value added products for the melons, but it is an option. Though I wonder when we would have the time in the kitchen with eggs & meat products we handle. I'll call some B&B's tomorrow. As for the market's I attend, I am the only only selling tomatoes by the bushel, ready to eat leaf lettuce salads, mixed pints of cherry tomatoes, and there are already 5+ vendors selling everything under the sun.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 4:37PM
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myfamilysfarm

You can also freeze, both cantalope and watermelon. To serve, don't thaw completely, serve as cantalope ice. Once it thaws, it get mussy. In Japan, they service melon juice, just seed and blend away. Also ideas, if you can offer samples.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 7:47AM
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magz88(5a - Central Ontario)

If you aren't able to sell them you can always donate them to the food bank.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 10:41AM
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