Advice for Farm Stand Newbies
Hello! Cant tell you how much I have enjoyed reading this forum! ItÂs truly incredible how much you can learn from people who have been there, done that. My husband and I are in the midst of planning our first market garden and I am hoping that you will be able to advise me on a few points. Our plans are to have a stand at the end of our driveway versus renting a stall at the local farmers market. I am home all day to garden and tend the stand and my husband is available weekends until next year when he retires. I would very much appreciate hearing from others who run a stand on their property. A bit about us:
Location/Community: We live in a small rural community with about 150 families in our immediate neighbourhood (all within walking distance of our home). The majority of residents have to drive by our house to get to the main county road and pass by us every night on the way home from work. Within a 2-3 mile radius there are another 450 families, the majority of which live in upscale waterfront homes. We also have an influx of summer tourists who have summer homes on the nearby lake.
Competition: The closest town is 15 minutes away with one very small food store that carries a poor selection of vegetables that are very often past their prime (even in the summer when produce is local). The closest major center with a decent vegetable selection is 30 minutes away. There is one farm stand in a hamlet 10 minutes from our house Â a farmer who has a table of unwashed root vegetables, oversized zucchini, a bucket of gladioli with dill weed in dirty water, bushels of corn in season and in the fall a wagon of pumpkins and ornamental gourds. ItÂs pretty icky. There is a farmers market 30 minutes away open on Saturdays, however, it is slowly declining with only 10 or so vendors remaining.
Our plan is to begin in a small way this year with produce and flowers grown on some empty beds we prepared last fall and focus on building additional gardens this Spring. Due to some low lying areas on our property and a high water table, weÂve decided to construct raised beds as they
have proven to be very successful for us with our own gardens.
I plan to offer produce that I would personally like to buy in our area but canÂt find Â baby beets, baby carrots, snow peas, basil, heirloom tomatoes, hot peppers, frying peppers, fancy summer squashes (such as eight-ball), unusual melons like "Moon and Stars" as well as fresh cut flowers (I have never even seen a red sunflower for sale here!). I also plan to offer bushels of Roma tomatoes and pickling cucumbers to those who do their own freezing/pickling/canning.
The questions I have are:
Â Is there a formula or "best guess" as to how much of which vegetable we should produce for our potential customer base? What proportion of your garden would you dedicate to cut flowers and how much to vegetables?
Â Do you run your farm stand on a daily basis or just on weekends?
Â When is the peak time for sales? In the morning or evening when people are coming home from work?
Thank you for your patience in reading this far! I truly appreciate any suggestions or recommendations you can give us.