Shorten the Distance From Farm to Table With Plants in Your Grocery Store

by Craig Anthony

2 min read

As of late 2016, Target planned to roll out vertical gardens in a select handful of its U.S. locations. The idea behind this move was to close the gap between the farm and the table, and hopefully attract some more nature-focused shoppers. If you want to bring this trend to Canada, you don’t necessarily need to be a big retailer. You just need to use a bit of creativity and ingenuity to get the project started and keep it rolling along.

Assessing the Logistics

Vertical gardens don’t take up a lot of space, but you still need equipment to get started. At a bare minimum, you need containers that can be hung vertically from your grocery store walls, potting soil, and seeds. You may want to add skylights, grow lights, or climate-controlled elements. You also need to figure out how to water the plants; if you don’t have an automatic waterer, you may need to pay someone to come in during your closed hours to do extra watering. You may also want to hire an extra employee with experience in gardening to oversee your sprouts and shoots. Ideally, you should take all these issues into account when budgeting for your vertical garden.

Working With Local Partners

Gardening and farming can be an art, and if you want your garden to be perfect, you may want to work with a local farmer. There are a number of ways you can structure this partnership. You could let the farmer reap all the profits from the garden, and you simply benefit from the increased foot traffic the garden draws. You could pay the farmer, or the farmer could work for free in exchange for advertising his or her business by your garden installation.

Leveraging for Publicity

Regardless of how you approach the specifics of your vertical garden, you want to leverage your garden for publicity. Vertical gardens in grocery stores are a huge novelty, and if people know about your gardens, curiosity may lure them to the store. Use your social media accounts to share pictures and updates about your vertical gardens. You may also consider reaching out to local newspapers or news programs to do a story on your gardens.

Educating Customers

Vertical gardens in grocery stores are a relative novelty, and because of that, you may need to educate your customers about how to use your gardens. In some cases, you may decide to be in charge of all the harvesting. The gardens can provide visual appeal and learning opportunities for children, but you pick the vegetables and herbs and put them on shelves when it’s time to sell them. In other cases, you may want to invite customers to harvest their own vegetables and herbs, but in these cases, you may want to communicate about expectations. For instance, you may want to offer guidelines on how to clip parsley or how big tomatoes should be before a customer plucks them. Vertical gardens can be a fun way to stock the shelves of your grocery store with extremely fresh produce. They can also work as a visually appealing draw for customers. There are all kinds of ways to incorporate this idea from a few containers of greens to full walls of cascading peas and other veg on vines.

References & Resources

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