Not celebrating Halloween, in any form, on your organic farm, is a bad idea. Hopefully, farms that specialize in traditional Halloween goodness, such as organic pumpkins, are already on board with celebrating the Halloween season annually.
However, even a farm that doesn't have a pumpkin patch or other typical fall fare can, and should participate in Halloween festivities. If you ignore this popular holiday, you'll be missing out on many perks.
Below are 8 ways to celebrate this spooky and fun season on your organic farm.
1. Delight & Haunt Customers with a Spooky Halloween Barn
A spooky haunted barn takes time and planning, along with some free funds, but can bring in some extra money if you've got the time and upfront cash to spare.
Many haunted barns cater to families, although not all. In your advertisements you should list what ages your specific haunted barn is appropriate for. Some haunted barns adjust by holding semi-spooky events for younger kids and families, and scarier, late-night events for adults only.
To draw more people, offer value added products, such as treats, pumpkins and t-shirts. It's also a great idea to offer two-for-one, or other special ticket sales on specific nights.
You can't just toss together a haunted barn. You've got to plan for issues such as parking, extra seasonal employees, fire codes and much more. See the following guide for tips - How To Start A Haunted House Business.
2. Promote Autumn Goodies
Autumn offerings should reflect the season. Customers really like products that seem in-spirit for the holidays. For example, if you sell at Farmers' Markets, dress up your booth with corn, golden flowers, hay and other fall colors. If you usually offer jarred goods, use Halloween-friendly orange and black labels.
Provide extras that make it easy for people to buy from your farm stand. Freebies may include autumn recipes, fact sheets about organic fall produce, tips about how to carve pumpkins. Value-added Halloween products may include bottled apple cider or even just organic caramel for apple dipping.
Always promote your autumn and Halloween offerings where you normally advertise, be it on your website, in local papers or simply dress up your farm sign with Halloween inspired decor.
3. Maximize Pumpkin Patch Marketing
Pumpkin patches are a popular family event in the fall. If you own one, or if you offer u-pick pumpkins, make sure you're maximizing your sales. To maximize your potential, you can add value-added products and services.
Many pumpkin patches offer extras, such as tractor rides, hay bale or corn mazes, games and tons of treats, such as candy apples, popcorn and jarred goods such as pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin butter. When you create fliers or online listings, mention all the extra services and products you offer. If you sell at Farmers' Markets, start advertising your patch there in September.
Also, be sure to promote your patch online, not only at your own farm website, but at other sites as well. The Pumpkin Patch, while not USDA organic, is a good example of a patch that has really maximized their offerings via an easy to use website.
If you have a pumpkin patch, or u-pick pumpkins, or even just grow and sell pumpkins, make sure you're listed at popular pumpkin search sites, such as:
- Pumpkin Patches and More
- Local Harvest - their Organic Pumpkin page
- Local pumpkin patch sites - for example, Oregon uses the Pumpkin Directory and other states have similar sites.
Lastly, make sure you update your offerings information at the various websites you're listed on at least once annually. If you take a quick peek, you'll see that many of these website listings are out-of-date. The actual website isn't at fault here, it's up to farmers to update when necessary.
4. Dress Up the Farm With Halloween Decor
Autumn farms, with their golden and orange colored trees, pumpkins, gourds and hay bales, already have a touch of Halloween decor.
If you have an indoor farm store on your property, play spooky (or fun) Halloween music too.
5. Grow & Offer Halloween-Specific Products
Halloween offerings can be fun to grow and profitable too. Consider growing holiday-specific crops, such as squash, pumpkins (of course), apples, corn and other fall produce.
Halloween flower bouquets, although not as popular as Valentine day bouquets, still sell. Organic growers might consider autumn organic sunflowers, roses, chrysanthemums and more. Solanum, part of the eggplant family (pumpkin tree) is an especially fun Halloween plant to grow, and Halloween customers love it.
Value-added Halloween products may sell as well, such as roasted pumpkin seeds, jarred pumpkin butter and apple cider.
6. Offer Seasonal Family Photos
Obviously you need a camera and someone to operate it, but families love to have their pictures taken in natural fall settings, and will pay for the privilege. You don't even have to offer fancy picture packages - which is a lot more work. One-time photo day offerings work as well.
You can even hold a costume photo day. Parents love getting snapshots of the kids, all dressed up in a pumpkin patch or sitting on a bale of hay.
If taking photos isn't within your budget or skill-set, consider hooking up with a local photographer. The photographer gets an ideal picture setting and you get part of the fees for area use.One more Halloween photo opportunity is to have pumpkin-buying customers send in photos of carved pumpkins and hold an organic jack o lantern contest.
7. Offer Yummy Halloween Treats with CSA Deliveries
If your farm offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, then be sure to send out some simple bonus treats in October. Add some roasted pumpkin seeds, a bottle of cider, fall apples, or other Halloween treats to customers' orders.
Offer just a taste, and include a brochure about how they can purchase more if they like.
Organic Halloween cookies and candies are also a nice touch. While you don't grow these items on the farm, you are building customer relations simply by including fun freebies. Don't underestimate customer satisfaction. Freebies can help ensure that your customers love, and keep using your CSA, as opposed to another farm's CSA.
8. Host a Halloween Scavenger Hunt
A Halloween scavenger hunt is a really fun event you can throw for local area children. It's not hard to plan an event. Simply create a basic nature-minded treasure list, offer small baskets or recycled bags and then send the kids off to hunt.
Remember, young children aren't always the best readers, so use a nature scavenger hunt list with words and pictures.
Ideas of treasures to hunt for on the farm include acorns, a shiny rock, an orange leaf, a yellow flower, mini organic pumpkins and so on. You can also hide real treasures such as pieces of organic candy, so long as livestock can't find it first.
Promote your event as a family-fun day at the farm and be sure to have plenty of autumn-minded and Halloween goodies on hand to sell to kids' parents.