Building Community Around Elderberry on a Really Tight Budget

Building Community Around Elderberry on a Really Tight Budget
Perhaps the most common question we hear is “what is an elderberry?”   And the second most common question we hear is “what does elderberry taste like?”   It’s challenging to find creative and affordable ways to get the word out about elderberry and build an "elderberry community".   We are a small start-up business without the deep pockets to fund traditional big ad and marketing campaigns.  What to do when you don’t have lots of money?

You grow your business slowly, organically, and through grassroots efforts linked to your local support system.  We are blessed to live in a community that is focused on growing and supporting local small businesses.   Many seemingly disparate businesses and small local ventures are coming together to promote each other in some very cool and creative ways. The Elderberry Jam held in Carrboro on August 24 is a great example of how seemingly unconnected businesses can come together to create some buzz and name recognition for themselves and each other.

To bring the event together Norm’s Farms partnered with Southern Rail and Second Wind, two small locally owned and operated restaurant and bars, and twenty two local bands and solo musicians to create this all-day event in downtown Carrboro, NC.  The purpose of the event was to celebrate local business and generate brand awareness for everyone involved.   The musicians offered to play for tips, Norm’s Farms offered to pay for the T-shirts for the event, Southern Rail and Second Wind offered up their locations at no charge, Southern Rail designed the T-shirts for free, Second Wind created cocktails featuring elderberry for free, and we invited about 12 other small businesses like Little Dippers, an Italian Ice company, and Bear Creek Brews to come vend at the event at no charge.

The event was free to the public, and we estimate that over 1000 people attended.  It was a huge success for just about everyone that participated!   As an example, Bear Creek Brews made a really good elderberry beer that Southern Rail decided to carry, and several Bands got future paying gigs as a result of the exposure.  The Norm’s Farms booth was busy the entire day and we were blessed to have volunteers to help keep those elderberry samples flowing.  We sold enough elderberry products to cover the cost of the t-shirts and can happily say that, for at least 1000 people, they now know what an elderberry is, that it tastes great, and they know where to shop locally to find our products!We are currently looking forward to the fall Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival where we host the Coffee Barn Stage.

We are looking forward to meeting up with so many great musicians, seeing old friends and making new ones, and continuing the work of spreading the good word about elderberry.  It’s a slow process, but it’s real , it’s fun, it’s organic, and it’s affordable!
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