10 years ago, last night - as recorded in my journal ...
"I couldn't sleep all night long because I was up thinking about this food gardening business idea. I settled on a few things: a name and a branded persona ("Man in Overalls") as well as a few ideas on how to use such a persona and business as a food movement platform and how to make food gardening demand viral."
A few months before, once I had decided to focus my efforts on launching a food gardening biz, I concluded that of the three pillars necessary for successful biz (product, books, and marketing), I was comfortable with the first two, but how to market? How to arrange for customers to come a calling? I had not a clue. Thus it was in this all-nighter idea-storm 10 years ago that I was suddenly released like water finding a crack in a dam.
It all started with the idea about a cardboard sign. (Well, it really started with my grandfather who lived everyday of his life in overalls, who, ultimately, was buried in overalls, but that's a story for another day.) Do you remember those signs that panhandlers used to hold that read, "Will work for food?" In the aftermath of 2008, there were a lot more folks with signs, but, I noticed, none of them had that catch phrase. One day as I was living the question of how I could market a food gardening business, I waited in a long line of cars at a light where a man held a sign, and I realized that in 10 minutes, he was "marketing" to a couple hundred cars. In the course of a day: several thousand. I could do that...
What if...? I wondered, laying in bed 10 years back. "What if I held a sign beside the road that read, 'Will GARDEN for food'?" I could use it as a business slogan, print it on t-shirts, business cards, brochures. "I could hold a shovel or a pitchfork, maybe, like that classic farmer photo." [American Gothic]. To complete the image, I'd, of course, have to wear overalls. And my mind raced on: How could I craft the image so that it was front-page news worthy? How do I foster a viral gossip loop where people, upon getting to work, would exclaim, "Did you see that guy beside the road this morning?" And lastly, I asked, "What would they call me when their co-workers asked, "Who?" -- "You know, that man in overalls."
Thank you to the many, many people who have supported me as I grew my dreams. Thank you.
As I look to the future, my dreams are once again flowing - though a little more muddled. As I peer through the fog, one idea keeps coming up: "Team in Overalls."
Let’s see what grows from here.
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Nathan Ballentine (Man in Overalls)
Itinerant Urban Farmer, Entrepreneur, Educator, Community Organizer
Growing in Jacksonville, FL. Connecting Globally.
Email Man In Overalls at Gmail dot com