Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved being outside in the summer. I grew up at the edge of a small town in Missouri. As early as I can remember, my dad began teaching me and my two brothers everything he knew. We would always plant a big garden.

Start plans for summer promos now
David Babcock
Retail Scene

That first cut of our old rusty tiller into the winter-hardened ground was always the hardest. My brothers and I would each take our turn at it for a half-hour or so before we’d be exhausted. Of course one pass through wouldn’t cut it. But the second time over that patch of earth we saw the first magic of gardening. Right before our eyes the hardened, lifeless dirt seemed to turn into rich, life-giving soil.

We would then carefully measure out our rows, marking them with string tied to sticks. We would open the bags of seed and follow the string, carefully planting each seed. Three rows of corn. A row of carrots. A couple rows of beans, etc. I remember building mounds of dirt along the back end of the garden where we would plant cantaloupe and watermelon.

One year my dad handed my little brother a bag of macaroni and asked him to plant it, promising macaroni and cheese plants. Nothing came up in that row for some reason that season.

This is of course being repeated all over the Northern Hemisphere this spring to one extent or another. And as you might expect, some of these products are destined for the locally grown programs at nearby grocers.

If you’re a retailer, you are probably already planning your locally grown program, contacting local growers and making arrangements. Don’t forget to thank these producers. They have put in long hours of difficult work to make this all happen.

Now is certainly the time to ramp up merchandising efforts for all of the great summer staples. If you’re a retailer, why not try setting up your own farmers market right in front of your store? It’s a great way to get people excited about your fresh produce. Fresh California peaches, plums and nectarines are already shipping, too, so get busy building that great record-breaking display.

Take a look at the May issue of Produce Merchandising for advice on how to make your summer fruit displays appear as plentiful as possible.

All this wonderful summer produce can’t promote itself, you know, and a little extra merchandising effort could really make this a summer to remember.

David Babcock is editor of Produce Merchandising, The Packer’s sister publication under Food360.