Rikard Korkman, a farmer in 6th generation, owns fields in the Southern Finland. The main business is grain production and snow removal. In 2013 Rikard decided to get serious with apple farming and planted 1100 apple trees. How can he make business out of apples in Finland?
Yes, it is possible to grow apples in the most southern parts of Finland. Though, the risk in growing apples is quite high as the trees are easily damaged by the winter frosts and the crops are smaller compared to southern countries.
Few years back Rikard spent a lot of time reading and studying alternative models for business. Finally, proudly copying ideas from Community Supported Agriculture, he launched his new apple business.
Instead of selling the apples in local markets or through supermarkets, he sells via his own web shop annual shares of apple trees. That is, instead of buying apples the customers are purchasing parts of the apple orchard. The value proposition is not just apples that you can eat, but it is more the idea of owning a piece of beautiful orchard, and supporting cooperative local farming.
Rikard explains: “My business model builds on yearly contracts with customers with fixed price on appleshares paid in advance the autumn before for the actual harvest. An appleshare consists of a certain amount of trees that are dedicated for an individual share owner. This means that the grower and the client shares both the upside and the downside risk in apple growing.” So, if the crop of the particular summer is low, the clients will get less apples. On the other hand, if the crop is plentiful each customer gets more apples than expected. “From the farmers point of view this provides economical security that gives a more solid ground to invest all the time and money that is needed in developing a small orchard that is dependent from a direct sales model“, Rikard continues.
Rikard keeps in touch with his clients by writing emails and posting pictures and stories on Facebook about growth of apples and other happenings and operations in the orchard. As the orchard is situated in Southern Finland near its customers, they can also have picnics under the apple trees.
When harvesting Rikard has no transportation costs; customers are fetching the apples from the farm. Of course, if a customer wishes to do so, she can also harvest the apples by herself – with no extra payment.