Farmers Market Marketing Series #2: Six Overarching Ideas for Success


IDEA #1: Quality. 

First of all, obviously the bottom line is that you must have fresh and good quality products. And secondly, I’m assuming you’re not an asshole. If you don’t offer the former and are the latter, this blog post won’t help you. You need quality control and years of therapy. This is usually a non-issue but I’ve heard a few horror stories from people about their experiences at Farmer’s Markets. If these two are handled (and in 90% of cases they are) then you’re well on your way.

IDEA #2: Decide what you want to do yourself and what you want to outsource.

It’s important to remember that, just because marketing needs to happen, doesn’t mean that you need to do it all. You’re in control of that. Some you’ll want to do yourself and some you’ll want to outsource. Once you’ve sorted out how you want to market yourself, it’s wise to sit down and look at how much time and money each option would cost if you did it yourself vs. hiring someone else to do it. Do you want to do your own book keeping? Your newsletter? Running the Farmer’s Market stand? Your photography and web designer? Or would it be better to bring someone else in? Sometimes hiring someone else to do it is actually the more profitable thing to do.

IDEA #3: Get more support. 

Farmer’s are profoundly overworked and constantly in need of more hands on deck to pull everything together. Getting seasonal interns (in exchange for boarding or on the farm experience through the WWOOF, local agriculture students, local permaculturists who are thinking of getting into farming, market patrons or your local community) or volunteers for workbees can be a godsend and free up a lot of time.

IDEA #4: Do more of what works.

If you’re a farmer and have vended at a farmer’s market even once, you’ll have already learned something. You’ll have tried some things that seems to work. Do more of those things. This seems obvious but I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I’ve met who, when I asked, “How did you built your business in the beginning?“, tell me a brilliant strategy that they no longer do. When I ask them why they stopped doing it, I get blank looks and they finally say something like, “Huh. I don’t even know!” This is often the easiest thing to do. Go back to what worked when you were getting started and full of hustle.

IDEA #5: Educate and tell your story.

This is, perhaps, the biggest overarching theme. Every chance you get, tell your story. This idea overlaps with many of the others to come in this series. People love to hear the stories behind what they are buying. It’s easy to assume that people know more than they do about your farm and your food.

Marketing is about establishing the value beyond the immediately apparent.

I can promise you that 99% of the most compelling parts of the story of your business and your products are not clear to your customers. You’d be amazed at what they don’t know. Don’t assume that everything you put into your farm and your products is immediately apparent to anyone. Marketing is fundamentally about story telling and educating.

You can tell the story of:

  • how your farm started
  • why you choose to grow one type of produce vs. another
  • why you choose x method over y?
  • why do you grow the food you do?
  • what’s the story of the land you’re on?
  • what’s the history of farming in your area?
  • why do you charge what you charge? why does it cost what it does? what are your margins and how much do you need to even break even (very few people will understand this).
  • what are the extra things you do to make sure the quality stays high?
  • does your farm have an ethnic heritage?
  • what sets you apart and makes you different from other farms?
  • always confirm what is thought to be known (fresh, organic, local)
  • the specifics about crop varieties. Why did you choose it? Where is it from originally and how did it get to be here? What are the traditional uses of it and stories about it?

How do you tell your story? There are so many ways. It might be bit by bit, in conversations with your customers. It might be through social media or your email newsletter. It might be at talks you give or in newspaper articles about you. There are so many ways and you’ll learn more as you keep reading.

IDEA #6: Specialize in something.

This is another big one.

Figuring our your niche might just be one of the toughest nuts to crack in the business world. Tough enough that I created a whole website, The Niching Spiral, dedicated to it.

It’s a bit overwhelming going to a Farmer’s Market and seeing everyone offering all of the same things. If every table has beets, squash, lettuce and carrots, for example, then how do I choose from which table to shop? At that point, the answer might just be, which one is closest to where I am standing but it also might be some combination of the other things.

If you offer something that no one else at the market is offering, you will become known for that. If you’re the only one who makes mango lhasis, sells honey, has the best heirloom tomatoes, grows your food bio-dynamically it will be a big help in people remembering you and make it easier for other patrons and vendors to direct people to you.

Consider all of the different ways people have created niches in the field of permaculture.

Lisa Kivirist of Hobby Farms writes, “How is what you’re selling different than other vendors at the farmers’ market? Sometimes it helps to specialize in selling varietals of one distinct item, such as garlic. Another route is to creatively package your items. Sure, a lot of farmers may be selling red, ripe tomatoes, but what if you sold green tomatoes, along with your recipe for fried green tomatoes?

Shayla Mihaly says, “I know where to get the best greens (Star Route Farm) and the best Peaches (Frog Hollow). Then there is the wheatgrass and sprout guy, the place to get lavender, the organic non gmo soy, the honey people….. and Cap’n Mike’s smoked fish. So, what are they known for?

Brian Parsons adds, “Also, you have to remember that if you have 10 farmers stands, all selling eggs and potatoes, then you basically have 10 competitors… so you can have potential conflicts, tensions within the farmers market itself… in fact, that is the same with any market environment. And so it is not just a question of how you differentiate yourself from the large supermarket, but also from the stand next door selling the same stuff as you.”

Deb Vail shares her experiences of  having her farm in NC which outgrew her and her family in nine years, “We sold it two years ago because we got too big too quickly and couldn’t keep up at our age. We did no advertising at all… but I will pass on one thing that helped us tremendously – We divided out our CSA for only veggies and then sold only flowers at market. I suppose that’s niching. It worked well to be the only farmer at market that only sold flowers – we were the experts.”

Daleen Adele Thomas sums it up, “Only grow/farm what you love/are good at. If you grow great lettuce but small turnips, why grow turnips?

Please leave any thoughts, tips, resources or ideas that could help farmers grow their businesses in the comments section below. After a few weeks, I promise to read through them all and weave anything relevant and useful into the blog itself so that they can be of the most use to the most farmers.

Farmers Market Marketing Series #1: What This Series is and Why I’m Doing It.

farmer's marketHow this Farmer’s Market Series came to be…

Over the coming days, I’ll be releasing a series of blog posts full of marketing ideas for farmers.

I was recently asked to put together a workshop on marketing for farmers at Farmer’s Markets.

A volley of emails went back and forth that sounded mostly like me saying, “Are you sure you want me? I don’t really work with farmers… Ok. Wait. Are you really sure? I have no idea what I’d even say… You think my stuff would be relevant? Ok. I guess let’s do it then. But wait… can you put me in the afternoon after the other two presenters so I can hear what they say first? That works? Perfect… Are you sure?

But somehow it all came together.

And, in getting ready for these presentations, I decided to reach out to my colleagues and do some research to see if I can get my thinking together and share it here so I can get your feedback as well before the big day comes.

One thing is clear, as Bright Spark Media points out, the number of Farmer’s Markets is on the rise.

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And since local food is on a meteoric rise over the past few years, it feels important that we take the maximum advantage of it. The more successful farmers are, the more people will want to get into farming, the more local food we’ll have, the less development we’ll have as farmers no longer want or need to sell off their land and the more genuine food security we will have.

So the importance of this all is clear.

Farmers-Market-Old-Strathcona-1024x607What’s also clear is that farming is impossibly hard work.

Deb Vail shared, “… don’t ask me how to work in the fields 70 plus hours a week, get produce ready for a 150 person CSA delivered to three locations and go to market once a week, do all the bookkeeping, write a newsletter once a week and raise a family with 5 kids without hurting yourself. Organic veggies and flowers are so underpriced… Long live the farmer who’s reward is being in Nature all day long. Peace upon our souls is the true measure of success.”

Jason Guille who runs Sunset Labs in Victoria said, “I’ve spent some time in that conversation.. in my experience, typically speaking, the common state you’re speaking into is one of buried in work, disinterest in marketing and overwhelm in computers/technology.”

As my dear friend Corin Raymond says, “Mercy this hustle.”

Ester Balekjian commiserated that she wished everyone who attended the Farmer’s Markets would learn a bit more of what it’s like to be on the other side of the booth – the etiquette of being a customer. “I don’t think the farmers need to do more work at marketing. It is the customers that are hooked on supermarket fare that need to be targeted and made seen the importance of local food and supporting farming locally. It breaks my heart how farmers at stalls get treated by customers that compare them to the service they get at supermarkets. These people don’t bat an eye spending $200-$300 at the supermarket and yet are seen taking every single free sample and walking around with one pear, an apple and a small bag of baby carrots in their bags….. and spend all their money at the baked goods stalls.”

So, if you’re a farmer, this series is for you.

But I know a secret…

Despite everything that was said above, I know you got into farming because it’s easy money. Nothing but profit. You may not think we know about the billions of dollars your making but a farmer in England leaked your secrets in this video.

Still, one can always make even more billions of dollars… So the following posts in this series are my ideas to help you do that.

Please leave any thoughts, tips, resources or ideas that could help farmers grow their businesses in the comments section below. After a few weeks, I promise to read through them all and weave anything relevant and useful into the blog itself so that they can be of the most use to the most farmers.

a blog post in which I discuss why the whole economy is toxic, destructive and suicidal and yet… marketing is needed to fix things?

[]This is a different sort of blog than I usually write  because it’s not just about marketing. It’s about the context that marketing happens inside of.
Namely, the economy.
Of course, most of us have some very justifiable issues with marketing. Some of us wonder if even the whole ‘conscious marketing’ thing is bullshit
But those issues are driven by something so much larger.
We live inside of an economy that David Korten coined as ‘The Suicide Economy’. For obvious reasons. If we let it, it will kill itself (and take a lot down with it as it goes). 
It’s an economy and culture that has led much of humanity to a point of a secret sort of self loathing. The sense that made, as William Gibson put it, ‘man is a bad animal’. Stephen Jenkinson illucidates on this brilliantly in the following video by Ian Mackenzie.
As David Orr so brilliantly put it, “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful” people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.”
And most of us are fighting tooth and nail to create something more sane. Something more in alignment with what Judy Wicks of Phillidelphia’s White Dog Cafe expressed so beautifully when she said, 

“The Local Living Economies Movement is about: Maximizing relationships, not maximizing profits, Broad-based ownership and democracy, not concentrated wealth and power, Sharing, not hoarding, Life serving, not self-serving, Partnership, not domination, Cooperation based, not competition based, Win-win exchange, not win-loose exploitation, Creativity, not conformity, A living return, not the highest return, A living wage, not the minimum wage, A fair price, not the lowest price, “Being more, not having more”, Interconnectedness, not separation, Inclusion, not exclusiveness, Community and collective joy, not isolation and unhapppiness, Cultural diversity, not monoculture, Bio-diversity, not mono-crops, Family farms, not factory farms, Slow food, not fast food, Our bucks, not Starbucks, Our mart, not Wal-Mart, a Love of life, not love of money.”

In a similar way. this quote from The Necessary Revolution (shared with me by my colleague Julia) struck as right on theme for this theme of figuring out the deeper cause our business is about. It invites us to step back and consider the underlying cause of business itself:

“…the new generation of mission-based businesses builds on some very old ideas, ones that predate the Industrial Age. They seek, as an essential part of their purpose, to contribute to the health and well-being of living systems.  They reject the notion that the sole purpose of business is to make a profit and they regard the quality of relationships between members, suppliers, and customers as the true indicator of success.  In so doing, they are returning business to its origins.  The oldest Swedish word for business is narings liv, “nourishment for life.”  In ancient Chinese the concept is expressed by two symbols that translate as “life meaning.”   And the root of the English word company derives from the Latin com panis, “the sharing of bread”- the same root as that for the word companion.”  

Everywhere we look, we see the growth of this new Green Economy. But some of us wonder if it’s enough. Because, as it rises, so doesgreenwashing (in which corporations try to make normal things seem green instead of helping to make green things seem normal). But also because many of suspect that solar power and compact flourescent lightbulbs are not the complete solution we need. That we may need something more. Many of us are waking up to the reality that, even if we all did what Al Gore called for at the end of his powerful documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ it wouldn’t be anywhere near to enough.

Silently, some of us wonder to ourselves, ‘What if the Green Economy is a wonderful means, but a terrible ends?’

We see the Occupy Wallstreet movement and the new economy it’s calling on us to imagine. 


David Korten invites us to go even deeper than critiquing the economy but to question the very stories that have, for so long, underpinned it. And he invites us to consider what the economy might look like if it were inspired by a different set of stories. What if we shifted our stories from those of building empires (which never end well) to building and sustaining villages? What if instead of growing big and selling we could be small and enjoy the beauty in that? What if endless economic growth was not the drum we marched to but that love and justice were the drums we danced to? What if there were models of creating change that didn’t all rely on money?

What if indeed.

So, what does this all have to do with marketing?

So much really. 

The word marketing is full of such heavy connotations. But let’s say it in a different way.

We need to find a way to articulate the problems we face as a culture and the potential solutions with such a powerful eloquence and clarity that it awakens something in people. 

If people don’t know about the alternatives you offer the world, they, functionally, don’t exist. And we need people to know they exist. Desperately. The solutions are out there (e.g. holistic medicine, permaculture, solar power, local economies and currencies, slow food etc.) but what good are they if no one knows? And people finding out about things is another way of saying marketing. 

As Antoine de Saint Exupéry put it, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

And that’s marketing.

We need to educate people about what new things are possible that could be restorative to both the planet and ourselves. And that’s marketing.

We need to lift our rhetoric to a level of relevance and clarity than is unmistakable. 

We need to get people’s attention, help them understand if our particular solution is a fit and then make it sweet, gentle and easy to try it (because we know asking them to change everything overnight will never work). 

We need to find ways to not seduce people, but court them into living their fullest lives. Imagine if everyone in the world offering hopeful and positive solutions awoke tomorrow with this kind of irresistible eloquence that inspired the best that humanity has to offer. Imagine how many fewer people might find themselves on their deathbed full of regrets

We don’t just need more conscious marketing. We need a whole new economy. We need to reimagine the culture we live in. But, to get there, we need to be better marketers. 

Most of us get most of our money, directly or indirectly, from the Suicide Economy. We’d love to make all of our money from the more Conscious Economy and spend all of our money there… but most of us haven’t been able to do that. Most of us are, like this culture, in transition. Most of us are trying to make our little conscious venture financially sustainable.

And a mighty piece of whether or not we can pay the bills comes down to marketing. 

If you’re needing more help with finding the eloquence to express what you do I’d like to remind you of somethings.

My website is full of free things. There’s over three hours of free video. Five hundred blog posts. Case studies.

I have a 195 ebook that you should have gotten when you signed up for this email list but, in case you’ve lost it, you can download it here.

If you feel drawn to work with me one on one, you can find more info about that here.

Thanks for being on my list. I hope you get good things from it. 


p.s. I’ll be in touch soon about some breakthroughs I’ve been having around this whole question of finding your niche, plus a contest around niching I think you’ll love.

p.p.s. On March 11th, I was the witness to a man taking his life by jumping off of Edmonton’s High Level Bridge. It was a deeply traumatic event from which I’m still recovering but recovering well with the help of a lot of good friends and support. I wrote a song about it and was able to go to the funeral and sing it to the family. It would mean a lot to me if you could share it with others. Yu can find the song and the story here:


Guest Post: Three Pitfalls I Avoided By Listening To Marketing Sages

by Kenton Zerbin

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There are many pitfall mistakes to make out there in the marketing world. Thank goodness you don’t have to make them! There are those who have made them and witnessed them, and made it here today to save us from doing them. 

Hi my name is Kenton Zerbin, and I started up, an independent teaching business teaching others Permaculture and how to design sustainability into their lives. It was, and continues to be, far from easy but it could have been SO much harder if I didn’t know the following… 

I want to share with you 3 pitfalls I avoided by listening to Marketing Sages:


Pitfall 1: Don’t brand yourself to a market you don’t know exists.

Know what you have to offer and test the waters with it. Don’t take it personally, but this isn’t about you, this is about what you are offering someone else. This concept of needs/yields in marketing is so… well… DUH, for lack of a better word. In Permaculture we call it Needs and Yields analysis; by understanding the needs and yields of the elements we are working with (in this case, “you” and “others”) you can design them together. Essentially, by knowing what “you” can yield and what “others” need, you can market and design yourself a right livelihood. A sustainable business. Success. 

So I repeat. Don’t market yourself until you know you have something worth marketing. Only then get into marketing it! 

How I avoided this pitfall as a Permaculture Teacher: 

I offered two free Intro to Permaculture Talks, one at a Hippy café and one at a University. Now I’m not only seeing IF the seats fill (If I have something worth marketing) but I’m also testing to see how many seats fill at each venue comparatively… which leads to the 2nd pitfall…


Pitfall 2: Don’t start marketing till you know who is shopping for you.

So you know that there is a market for you. Hold your horses! This is where far too many enthusiasts jump the gun…. You know people are engaging you, but you don’t know WHO exactly these people are. If you try to engage your vague clientele at this point you are nothing other than an overexcited door-to-door salesman or that person pushing papers on the street corner. Remember, you are marketing – a strategic use of your energy and time

Know your client! Who are these people that want what you are offering? Once you do NOW you are ready to start marketing! Only now do you know how to wrap it and how to get it out there!

How I avoided this pitfall as a Permaculture Teacher:

I got the participants of my free workshop to do a little questionnaire for me… age, house owner, salary range. I also gave them the choice on that questionnaire to choose what different kinds of courses they would be most interested in taking… which leads me to the 3rd pitfall.


Pitfall 3: DO NOT offer just one “thing”.

So you know you have something to offer that others want… and you also know who it is who wants it and thus are informed how to “brand” and marketing strategically. Now you have to avoid making the pitfall of offering the Holy Grail product…

Nothing will crush your spirit and business faster than seeing your ONE egg sitting in your basket not hatch. The cliché, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” couldn’t be more true.

Create your compelling packages! The secret now is to offer multiple points of entry for your potential clients to engage you. 


Let’s say you are starting an orchard… don’t just offer apples! Offer Cider, applesauce, applejack, preserved apples, dehydrated apples, apple trees, orchard tours, pies and an apple-a-day subscription program. 

Lets say you are starting a business offering Permaculture landscape consulting… don’t just expect clients to line up paying you thousands to convert their lawns! Offer a group educational workshop on one of the participants landscape, pre-consultation options, Permablitzs, surveying, landscape plans, tours of properties you have installed/designed, even have a tour/workshop at your own house showing off your food forest/garden of eden! 

For yet another example I will use myself as a Permaculture teacher. I offer: 

  • Free articles sharing my knowledge
  • 3-hour Intro to Permaculture workshops
  • 3-8 hour Workshops for house-owners OR apartment owners
  • 2 day Permaculture course for learning how to design
  • 2-week Permaculture Design Certification Course

Come check out the FREE stuff and all the rest at 

Thanks for reading! I wish you all the best in your business and avoiding these marketing pitfalls! 

Feel free to contact me at


Kenton Zerbin

Guest Post: Eco-Friendly Advertising: Good for Business, Good for the Planet

by Darren Leach

In the nature of the beast, the advertising industry is about as trendy as high school. With larger corporations leading the way, executing these “hip” marketing campaigns leads to infectious awareness, leaving everyone talking.

As the popular proverb goes, actions speak louder than words. Same goes the world of advertising as of late. No longer can companies get away with simply plastering a message on a wall and expect it to resonate with the audience. Over the past decade consumers have begun holding brands accountable for their strategies and tactics, essentially forcing these companies to “practice what they preach.” 

This can prominently be found in a company’s stance on the state of our planet’s well-being. Brands big and small from across the globe have vowed to become more environmentally conscious and the idea of “green” advertising is becoming more popular in order to target a new wave of ecologically savvy consumers. 

Seeing as billboards provide businesses with an optimal combination of size and visibility, brands from around the world are approaching outdoor advertising services with creative, eco-friendly advertising campaigns. What is it about this “greenvertising” movement that has eco-friendly ads sweeping the globe? Most likely its versatility and cost-efficiency. Take a look around you – when it comes to leveraging the environment to sell a product/share a message, Earth is your canvas and nature is your palette.

As I mentioned earlier, the advertising industry is a very trendy niche. Staying up to date on what’s working and what’s not is essential when it comes to managing a successful ad campaign. Within the realm of eco-friendly advertising there are some significant trends that companies have been capitalizing over the past couple years.

Trend #1: Consumers like shiny things: If there is one thing that is sure to capture the attention of your audience it is cool gadgets. As I mentioned previously, advertising is a trendy industry controlled by fads and the latest crazes – and sustainability is “in” right now. In all reality the functionality of a product could mean very little to the consumer as long as they get to jump aboard the eco-train. By taking advantage of a trend driven society, companies are able to appeal to the masses by marketing their products under the guise of sustainability.

Trend #2: Imagination: For the most part, the direction that the green movement is headed is largely unprecedented. Because of this, companies are able to take advantage of the unknown and use it to excite their audience. Whereas things such as electric vehicles and solar power are far from being new technology, we are still yet to see them as an accepted norm in society. Although this green movement has been years in the making, it is the unknown factor that opens the door for limitless innovation – like a block of marble waiting to be turned into a masterpiece, all it takes is a little imagination.

Trend #3: Facts Facts Facts: You can’t cheat science. When it comes to making claims about how environmentally conscious your company is, it’s pretty easy to slap on a tag word such as “green” or “sustainable”, a practice commonly referred to as ‘greenwashing’. This worked for a while, however consumers are beginning to challenge said claims and question the validity behind these so-called green standards. In fact the FTC has actually begun producing “green guides” that serves as a guide for what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to environmental claims. 

Trend #4: Green = Green: At the beginning of the green movement consumers were willing to pay steep prices as long as it meant saving the planet. As the eco-friendly ideology became more popular, less people were willing to pay top price for achieving the same endgame when they could just opt for the cheaper product.  In response to this change in dynamic, environmentally friendly products have not only seen a decrease in pricing but changes in advertising strategy as well. By lowering prices and marketing with a message, these companies aim to get their customers to stick by their cause for the long run.

Trend #5: Take Action: As Gandhi famously said, “be the change you want to see in the world.” Like I mentioned earlier, no longer can companies get away with petty claims of making a difference and saving the Earth. That’s because the consumer is standing on the other end of that message saying “prove it!” By taking part in service projects and designing campaigns around environmental causes, brands can show the public that not only do they stand by their claims, but that they are actively working towards making a difference. 

Here are a couple examples of some recent green advertising campaigns that really worked:

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.41.10 PMUrban Air

“UrbanAir transforms existing urban billboards to living, suspended bamboo gardens. Embedded with intelligent technology, UrbanAir becomes a global node – an open space in the urban skyline… An artwork, symbol, and instrument for a green future.”

Complete with Wi-Fi and climate transmitters, Stephen Glassman’s UrbanAir project is designed to provide a fresh reprieve from the noxious environment of Los Angeles. By converting old billboard space into hanging bamboo gardens, Glassman says his intentions are to “put a crack in the urban skyline so that when people are compressed, squeezed, stuck in traffic and they look up, they see an open space of fresh air.”

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Patagonia – The Footprint Chronicles

As a company that relies heavily on environmental changes, Patagonia prides itself on its sustainability and its identity as a “responsible company.” 

In an effort to be as transparent as possible, Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles outlines the details of the company’s supply chain, as well it’s social, environmental, and industrial impacts. Leading by example, the company hopes to see other brands catch on and actively work towards reducing their impact on the environment. 

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Cotton – Blue Jeans go Green Denim Drive

There are many people out there that are unaware of the sustainable properties of cotton. Even more so, many people out there are unaware that denim is in fact cotton. By utilizing college campuses, the Cotton Blue Jeans go Green campaign aims to educate the public on the recyclable properties of cotton, specifically denim, all the while making a difference in their community.

Each Fall Cotton selects a handful of college campuses from across the nation to represent this campaign. The students then design a full scale sustainability focused PR campaign in order to educate their community while collecting old denim. Once the denim drive is over, the material is sent back to Cotton where it is broken down to its original fiber state and used to create UltraTouch Denim Insulation for low-income housing.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.50.21 PMAbout The Author:

As a veteran media planner, Darren Leach has spent many years specializing in outdoor marketing strategies. He currently writes on behalf of Billboard Source and in his spare time Darren enjoys exploring the colorful neighborhoods of NYC. Darren is also into HR and is currently writing about business feedback for company staff and their clients.



Guest Post: The Top 10 Coolest Ways People Are Changing the Economy


by Shilpa Jain of 

10. Impact Investing: What’s the point of funding good social justice and environmental change projects when your investments are tied up in the very companies and industries that are at the root of the problem?  Impact investors are helping companies and foundations bring their investments in line with their values, for BIG impact. 

9. Collaborative Consumption: What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine…?  At least that’s what new businesses like Air BnB, CarShare, SnapGoods, and others are propagating.  Rather than buying more or renting from a big company, borrow my [house][car][tools], etc.  You get the benefit of a lower rate or unique experience or test-drive, and I get a little cash in my pocket.

8. Time Banking: The age-old question of time vs. money is answered by these folks who are making time THE currency of choice.  Everyone’s hour is worth the same, whether it’s an hour spent accounting, babysitting, or gardening. Bank and spend hours, get your needs met, and in the process, get to know your own gifts and talents and those within your community.

7. Worker-Owned Business: Karl Marx’s dream come true – without the loss of spirit and community.  Gone are the days when CEOs sit in the corner office and workers toil on the ground. In these new businesses, the workers are the owners and they are making decisions together, to share in the profits and losses, and figure out ways to sustain or grow their businesses. 

6. Gift Economy: Beyond barter, this is the Pay It Forward movement. You receive a service or product as a gift from someone (often anonymously) and you contribute what you can to provide for the next person.  The Karma Cafés, where your meal is already paid for and your tip provides the meal for the next hungry soul, are leading the way with this model.

5. Freecycling: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure… Another off-shoot of the gift economy, freecycling includes everything from Clothing Exchanges, to Crop Swaps, to Book Trades, to more! It’s Craig’s List to the next level.  By clearing out of what we don’t need or use, and getting it into the hands of those who could put it to good use, we decrease clutter, hoarding and consumerism, for great environmental, aesthetic and social justice impact.

4, Community Currency: Big banks always seem to need bailing out, and cash spent at corporations leaves the community almost instantly.  What if we had local money that served local businesses, circulated amongst the community, and celebrated the uniqueness of the places we live in?  Instead of disappearing into fictional derivatives, folks are generating script that serves to strengthen and uplift their neighborhoods and keeps the wealth flow at home.

3. Gross National Happiness: If GDP goes up with every typhoon, divorce, and war, clearly we need a new measure of success. Inspired by Bhutan, people are leading the charge for a new measure of personal, communal and national success — one that takes into account our health, well-being, safety, and, most of all, our happiness.

2. Small Is Beautiful: Tired of the isolation, anonymity, and lack of accountability, people are supporting the local and small movement: moving their money to small cooperative banks; frequenting local businesses; and buying food at farmers’ markets.  

1. Social Entrepreneurs: It’s time for the quadruple bottom line: purpose, people, planet and profit. New business makers are not settling for less than enterprises that rebuild the community, heal social relationships, feed their souls, and support their livelihoods. Great innovation is the result.

If you want to hang out with these top 10 movers and shakers who are growing this new economy, come to the Evolving + Emerging Economies Jam!  It will be held outside of San Francisco, CA, from April 3-7, 2013.  Hosted by a dynamic group of young changemakers working in this field, they are eager to JAM with you – to connect, deepen their learning, and figure out the coolest new synergies that are going to take this economy to the next level! 

Learn more and apply on-line at


EEE Invite

caged hens in your bus stop

The Coop grocery chain put out a great ad at bus stops that educated it’s customers (and prospective customers) that it was doing a good thing. And it did it in a funny (but poignant) way that helped people relate to why they were doing it.

I think a great indirect consequence of this kind of ad is that it’s not only the kind of thing people will share on social media because it’s so simple and clever but it also raises the bar for what people expect from any grocery store.

After seeing this ad a few times, people might be a bit more likely to ask their own grocer if their eggs are from caged hens.

follow the frog (and save the rainforest)

A three minute video that does an awesome job of empathizing with people’s experience (guilt for not doing enough) and then giving them something simple they can do to help them get the results they’re after (making a difference and saving the rainforest). Also a great example of offering up a new alternative solution to a problem (their certification process). It also communicates a clear point of view about how to solve the problem (don’t ditch your whole life) and does that in a funny way.

So, in that regards, it’s brilliant marketing.

But not everyone is convinced that it delivers on its promises. On Wikipedia it’s noted that “Rainforest Alliance agricultural certification has been criticized by a range of academics and media sources. The Manchester Evening News notes that critics have dubbed the Rainforest Alliance “Fairtrade lite”therefore offering companies such as Chiquita and Kraft a cheap way to tap into the ethical consumer market.” In other words, greenwashing.

The program has almost come under attack for not offering their farmers a minimum or guaranteed price, not prefinancing the crops and for allowing the use of the seal on coffee containing a minimum of 30% of certified coffee beans and for targeting large and medium coffee plantations, unlike Fairtrade‘s focus on independent coffee farmer cooperatives.

If they really delivered on their promises – this would be a fully brilliant piece of honest marketing.


Living the New Economy

If you’re a social entrepreneur, critical of the political and economic systems of the world (but also visionary about other ways we could do things) and tend to lose track of time in conversations about those things – you might want to come to Vancouver this November for the Living the New Economy event.

It’s all about how do we relate to this thing called ‘money’ and economics in a new way.

I’ll be presenting there and I’m pretty excited about it.

I did a little interview with Nicole Moen who’s one of the main organizers of the event to give you a taste of it.


What is the name of the project we’re featuring here?

Living the New Economy: 7 Days of Events

What’s the story of how this came about? What was the need you saw in the community that it emerged from?

At 3 am on May 19 I woke with the dream-like download that the next big project had to be about money and it had to involve bringing Charles Eisenstein to the West Coast. That was really all I knew at the time, I just went with it, and I emailed my business partner in event production, Geoff Gosson, to ask if he was in. He was.

It was in retrospect that I realized what that hit grew out of. I’d just completed a series of interviews of mostly entrepreneurs and one of the main themes from that was that each person had struggles of some sort with their financial worlds.

I’d been on a personal mission to learn more about money and increase my own financial literacy and decrease my own inner “stuff” on the subject for the prior year. I had also become aware of the book called Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein and was intrigued by his work to shift our economic paradigms. And of course, everyone is speculating about where the economics of our world are heading. All that had been rolling around inside and voila! a 3 am hit.

The Healing Cities Institute was interested in hosting the event as the subject is in alignment with several of the Dimensions of a Healing City, particularly Healthy Prosperity. Right away, Geoff and I determined that we would start small and sustainably, just Charles initially (fortunately he agreed to come!), and allow the project to grow as it needed to along the way. A few conversations later with key people and it grew FAST! and is now a week of events for entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial groups and anyone interested in learning about what is emerging. It is called Living the New Economy.

Here for more:



Can you share a few examples of how your project works?

Although the event is open to everybody we are putting special attention on the needs of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial groups such as social enterprises and co-ops. The week will guide participants through a set of skill-building workshops and networking opportunities to help clarify their project idea, refine their business approach and potentially pitch to investors.

Events include Financing the Future, Marketing with Integrity in the New Economy, Easing the Money Struggle, Making the Pitch, the Fish Bowl (happy Dragon’s Den), Opportunity Fair, Mentoring… plus a concert, poetry slam and film screenings.

What’s the response been so far?

We’ve been blown away by the response from people. It’s like there’s a ravenous hunger out there for opportunities, ideas, people to talk to, collaborations, reassurances, new models, new mentors about money and our economy.

Who do you find it’s working best for?

Social entrepreneurs and enterprises.

How did you promote this in the beginning? What were the top three most successful approaches at the start of it?

Well, this IS the beginning and we are experimenting with the most successful approaches. Reaching out to aligned organizations and individuals and exchanging in-kind value, i.e., offering event partnerships and E-passes.

What are the top three most effective current ways you’ve found to market this?

Through personal connection.

Through outreach to aligned organization and their networks.

Through social media.

What are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Stay calm. Keep working. Take time out. Pray. And don’t follow the instructions to only list 3 things.

What’s the next level for your project? What are you most excited about that’s coming up?

We hope to do another similar event in May 2013 and monthjy one day events in between November and May. There is a need for an ongoing conversation to keep developing, manifesting and funding new ideas.

At it’s heart, what is this project/business really about for you? (beyond money, status and such).

Responding to a need. We are convenors and we are hearing that people need to come together to talk about economic options, to talk about their fears, to come up with new ways forward, to connect with and support each other, to dig deeper into their minds and hearts and really live their gifts.

What parts of the new economy event are you personally most excited about?

When two or more people come together with the same intent, our wisdom and energy expand exponentially. We all benefit and those benefits ripple out to those not directly gathered with us. 

Specifically, we are excited about The Fish Bowl, a gentle version of the Sharks’ Tank or Dragon’s Den when a number of our E-Pass participants will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors for prize money.

What’s your biggest hope of what might come out of this event?

My biggest hope is that LNE will inspire and transform the people who attend. That the skills, resources and relationships each has gathered will help bring great ideas into manifestation faster and with resilience.

If people want to find out more about your project, support it or get involved – what should they do?

Contact us at
Check out the web site
Follow us on Twitter @NewEconomy_ca
Like us on Facebook

Joel Solomon: “The Unlikely Revolutionary”

I recently went to the Social Venture Institute hosted at the Hollyhock Center. It was an amazing event. And one of the people responsible for it happening is Joel Solomon. And I also met marketing genius Aaron Vidas. Imagine my delight to see this new, beautifully done video of Aaron interviewing Joel about the notion of social entrepreneurship.