Making Money at Farmers' Markets -- better yet...

gardenguru1950(SunsetZ16)January 21, 2005

If you were thinking about getting into this business or you've just entered the business, what kinds of subjects would be helpful to you?



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First and foremost: Psychology 101.

Then, Marketing, Business Communications, Business Law I and II, Accounting, Horticulture, Plant Management, etc.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2005 at 5:13PM
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Thanks flowerfarmer. I'll be covering those simple disciplines in the first hour of the first class. Anything else?


    Bookmark   January 21, 2005 at 5:33PM
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Finding your market niche in a global economy.
Sustainable farming vs Convensional farming.
How well organic fits into the market.

Is this working? Or, what exactly are you looking for?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2005 at 7:46PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Good Farming practices, HACCP, inusrance, value-added products, booth design.

Check out the book written by Marcie Rozensweig for a good overview.

Here is a link that might be useful: The New Farmer's Market

    Bookmark   January 22, 2005 at 1:21AM
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>>First and foremost: Psychology 101.

Definitely! I took Psych 101 last semester. My paper was written on the social aspects of farmers market. There's a lot more to FM than selling food. Got an A- on the paper.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2005 at 10:34AM
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WOW! If I promise to give you credit in my class, would you e-mail your "paper"? (

Too great.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2005 at 10:37AM
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How about Interpersonal Relationships.
Alot of those vendors at the market could sure benefit from that class!!!!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2005 at 10:57AM
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I think I burned it to a disc before I reformatted the computer. If I can find it I'll send it to you.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2005 at 8:49AM
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Don't know how you would label it but a session on flexibility in an ever-changing marketplace. Economic fluxuations can completely alter a community where something that sold well (or sold itself!) a few years ago just doesn't work anymore. Forecasting and anticipating trends is crucial for business' of any size.

I read a lot of postings here from all sorts of advice-givers that mirror what has been published about marketing and promotion. Those guidelines don't work for everyone. Knowing how to read your situation and take advantage of special circumstances would set any vendor apart.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2005 at 11:34AM
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I understand the message you posted. I think Joe may have been asking for input for classes for the young or otherwise entrepreneur. They may already get it.

But, just for the sake of commenting on the market person who is already farming: session, conjures up visions in my head of planning meetings which by the way are usually scheduled during our busiest times: planting and harvesting. Some of us market farmers would rather have root canal work done rather than sit still for these meetings. Whenever there is a meeting with 35-40 farmers, there's probably going to be 35-40 differing views. Often the person in charge of the meeting works for the city. The percentage of their job delegated to markets if I had to guess, is one percent. They are generally busy, overworked people who may or may not have a concept what it is exactly the market grower does. Then, we need to add to this mix the resellers. Many markets have them. These would be the folks yelling the loudest that the city doesn't do enough advertising for the market, etc. So, you can see why many of us would rather look forward to a trip to the dentist rather than attend planning meetings.
Most of us understand that the broader guidelines don't work for us; but, if we can take just a small piece of it, and, apply it to what we do, than it can and does work for us.
You stated that economic fluctuations can completely alter a community where something that sold well a few years ago just doesn't work anymore. This may apply to the housing market and sale of certain goods; but, I just haven't seen it at the farmers market. Incidentally, my observation is quite the opposite. I think farmers markets do better in less fortunate economic times.
We are always anticipating market trends. Sometimes we get it right; and, sometimes not. And, anticipating market trends, and, making adjustments would set a vendor apart. But, what exactly are the "special circumstances" to which you were referring?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2005 at 9:46AM
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My viewpoint is from ornamental plant sales and not produce. Things that I assume affect sales (no time to research it thoroughly) would be things like media attention to Sudden Oak Death disease where Camellias and Azaleas are mentioned as vectors. Suddenly people won't buy locally grown specimens even though the real culprit are imports from the west coast. Or reports that blame the fire ant problem on plant material coming up from Florida. Also a marketplace could lose customers if the market seems to be overrun by new hispanic customers and folks uncomfortable with non-english speakers would chose to stay away. It seems to be happening here. It just seems to me (and I am just starting out) that most of the literature out there is dated - what was selling 5 years ago is not necessarily selling well today. Folks at my market (a large flea market) don't seem to care so much for organic and shoppers at the huge Farmers Market don't seem to care if the produce is coming from a reseller or a farmer. It only seems to matter to a tiny percentage of shoppers. Keep in mind that this area abounds with organic/natural full sized grocery stores and most neighborhood stores carry organic produce (and most of it relatively local).

    Bookmark   January 25, 2005 at 3:58PM
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