Land, Labor and Capital Should Be Considered

A farmers market in Tennessee

​​University of Tennessee Extension experts have authored many publications that can help producers assess whether direct sales to customers can suit their marketing goals. Visit the UT Extension publications website​ and enter "direct marketing" into the search engine. Photo courtesy UTIA.

As more Tennessee farms consider selling farm products directly to consumers, it becomes important to take stock of how well farm resources – especially land, labor and capital – line up with different direct markets.

A thorough resource evaluation can save headaches, even failure, down the road, said Rob Holland, Director of the University of Tennessee Center for Profitable Agriculture. “Evaluating a farm’s resources is important for any direct marketing channel,” he said. “And a complete evaluation is very important if customers will be coming onto the farm to purchase products.”

Holland advises farms take stock of how well their farm is suited to visitors. “Is the farm easily accessible? Are there risks for visitors, like farm ponds? Where will customers park? These are all questions that on-farm direct marketers must answer,” he said.

New farm marketing enterprises require varying amounts of labor, and understanding labor needs is vital before beginning. “Farmers should have an idea how much time may be needed to both grow and market a new product direct to customers,” said Holland. “And don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to get a product to, and sold at, an off-farm direct market, like a community farmers market,” he advised.

Capital needs associated with direct marketing are also important. Some direct market channels require little to no new infrastructure or equipment. For example, marketing at a community farmers market may only require a table, display materials, vendor fees and adequate transportation. Other market channels, like building a new on-farm market, will require more substantial investment.

For more information about how to evaluate different direct farm markets, see UT Extension publication “Choosing Direct Marketing Channels for Agricultural Products” (PB1796). The document is available free at your local county UT Extension office or online at the UT Extension publications website:  Enter “PB1796” into the search engine. For additional publications on direct marketing, enter that term into the search engine.

More information about the CPA and its services are available online at the center’s website:​

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.



Megan Bruch Leffew, Center for Profitable Agriculture, 931-486-2777,

Rob Holland, Director, Center for Profitable Agriculture, 931-486-2777,