You often hear that your customers can be your best advocates. Get them invested in your product, and you’ve got a great marketing tool. And with the market for organic produce, locally grown food and sustainable farming continuously growing, customers are making their preferences known at the cash register and beyond.

I recently ran across an interesting campaign by Edible Gardens, a New Jersey-based hydroponic indoor farm. The company has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help expand its reach, calling on individual investors to help raise funds.

The company is citing recent issues with produce safety, particularly the E. coli outbreak in California, over-fertilization and waste as reasons to back their “zero-waste inspired” farming option. As of print time, the campaign had raised more than $24,500 with 55 investors choosing to back the company. Individuals are commenting that they’re putting their money where their mouth is because they believe in locally grown, sustainable produce options.

And customers want to be involved in ways they haven’t traditionally. For example, Farm.One in Manhattan has offered tasting tours, complete with a sampling box to take home and enjoy. What a great way to get customers up close and personal with your operation. Over in Texas, Profound Microfarms opened up its greenhouse for a make-and-take seed bomb workshop with a tour of its hydroponic greenhouse. Of course, they also mentioned social distancing and a mask requirement to keep everyone safe.

Whether or not Edible Gardens meets its fundraising goal, it’s heartening to see customers choose to invest in local controlled environment agriculture. If they’re making the trek to visit their local greenhouse, investing in a company, buying produce at a retail store or ordering directly from growers, they’re finding ways to advocate for healthy options they can trust. And they want to know more.

Kate Spirgen, Editor | kspirgen@gie.net | 216-393-0277