Roadside or Market ? New at this

gardener1908February 16, 2009

I am finally realizing my dream of growing and selling food.I would like to take advantage of all your experience. I have approx. 2-3 acres that I could plant. I also have a 200 ft. hoop style greenhouse that I plan to get up in March, along with 16 , 4ft. x 16ft. raised beds. (also a small 8ft.x14ft. hobby greenhouse). Now, the hard question is where to begin? What to grow? I live on a very busy rural hgwy., so I have great road traffic. I'm wondering if I should try a roadside stand or the farmer's market. There is a small stand down the road, but quality is not that great, otherwise none for mlies. I don't work so I can work this "full time".Also husband may be laid off so he'll be working it too.I've been gardening for years but not on this scale. I know we wont' plant all the 2-3 acres this year ,but imput on where to begin would be helpful. Also, what kind of income can we expect if we really go at this full speed. Thanks

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I myself I'm doing the same this year also and I tell you it is a task to do just to set up correctly. Where I live at we are about 2 months away tell we can plant and not worry about frost but I got some question for you.

Do you guys have equipment or will it be done by hand. By equipment I meen a tractor,ripers,disk and etc.

Hows the land irragated ?

so far for the seed I have picked out its going to be about 400 dollars just for seed not counting starter stuff I need. And I havent even filled up my whole garden yet.

But on the selling aspect this is what Im doing. I will sale at 2 farmers market maybe three I will also be selling off the place and to a local store.

I will be raising some pigs also to feed th rotted or bad stuff to and the rest I will can for we can cut back on our vegetable use.

I hope this helps

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 10:03PM
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gardener1908 - your set up sounds great. The first place to start is on your soil. If you lay a good foundation - good soil - you can grow just about anything. The same goes for livestock. If you build good enclosures you can switch from one type of animal to the next without having to spend a fortune each time to add something new to the mix. The market always changes. What sells well one year may not be so popular the next. What you love to grow will also change so be prepared to be flexible.

Look at what seeds or starts you already have and start growing that first. I would focus on the 16 raised beds. Any part of the place you can't grow on right away I would manage in a way to improve the soil fertility - like grow a cover crop or make large compost piles on.

I would also start off with the stuff you like to eat, stuff you know how to grow best, and start small. Whatever the basics are in your area should bring in customers. And I would focus on the roadside stand first while you are learning your way and then branch out to the local farmers market(s) once you get the whole place growing.

You will need help when you get the whole place up to speed. One person can just barely manage one acre. Growing tends to be a full time job and Selling tends to be a full time job - at some point you're going to need to stop and eat and sleep.

I will also add that NOW is the perfect time to start this sort of business. People will be looking for roadside farmstands on their way home. Word of mouth will be your best form of advertising.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 9:18AM
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Do most cities have regulations on roadside stands?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 10:43PM
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Thanks to all. I have opened up the small greenhouse. Will have the large one up in Mar. I have decided to divide it into a 50ft. and two 75ft. houses, with minimal heating in the 50ft over winter. Just ordered $600.00 in seeds. I think we might try to do both road and market. As for regulations,yes, but I talked to a rep. who said they pretty much turn a blind eye to the small stand. We have some people who put out a small amount of extras they might have left from their own gardens with a money collect box. We'll see how it goes. Thanks for the imput.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 11:54AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Hi gardener1908,

I'm doing an acre here with a small hobbyist greenhouse 16 x 6 and while I see you probably know how to do a lot of this and I see you have all those raised beds, etc, you should be able to do a real good job.

All I have is a 36" wide pull behind tiller, a Mantis tiller, and I'm purchasing this:
All in One Vegetable Garden Seed Row Planter

Good luck with your projects. This little machine could help a lot. I have 7000 corn seeds alone that will sure go in with ease now.



    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 6:56PM
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gardener365, what a great little tool. A lot less expensive than others I have looked at. Since the costs are adding up quick, every little bit helps. Thanks for the link.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 11:04AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

No problem. My girlfriend found the exact same thing for 139 bucks free shipping for me here:
Yellow Wheels vs. Red Wheels

We assumed shipping would be more than 10 dollars, for sure.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 4:58PM
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westcoastgardener(8 SunshineCoast B.C.)


Contact your local Health Authority with your questions. Disregard anything you may have heard about how difficult this is! There are regulations which we found absolutely reasonable that apply to some aspects of some enterprises. We obtained Health Authority approval of a tiny kitchen in a suite in our house that has opened many doors to what we are able to do and enlightened us about what we can't do (without expensive renovations).

It's better (financially, personally and peace-of-mindedly) to find out what they are and do what is necessary to comply BEFORE rather than after the fact. Our experience has been positive; they are there to help and will be more supportive if you contact them in advance of setting up - rather than horror stories I've heard of their intervention when people wing it and hope for the best (and are shut down for non-compliance).

Depending on what you want to do, Health Canada will also advise about labelling. They were really very helpful and supportive. Better safe than sorry has never been more true!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 11:54PM
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Thanks again for the advice and encouragement Westcoast, much appreciated :)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 7:21PM
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I already do a farmer's market, 3 days/week. I started in 2000 with 1/4 acre. My husband and I have gardened all of our life and raised 3 boys, so we have always gardened on the large size.

I also live on a heavily traveled road, but decided to do the farmers market thing instead of road side. We still wanted the privacy at home.

We don't have a tractor, just a walk behind tiller. We rent a tractor in spring and sometimes in the fall to do the main tilling. The tractor has a 4' tiller behind it, we can double tiller 2-3 acres in less than 8 hours. The tractor also has a bucket on the front, so that is when we get some of those jobs done that need a bucket. We rent the tractor from a commercial equipment rental place. Some of them don't have the tiller attachments, you will need to ask around.

We have 28 acres, 18 wooded and 4 acres not tillable due to housing.

I would advise to grow what you would eat first, that way IF it doesn't sell, you can eat it yourself. Also, check out different seed companies. I now buy from commercial seed companies and save the seeds I don't use in the "blue" canning jars, sealed tightly.

By the way, don't bother saving sweet corn or onion seeds. The germination rate drops severely.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 7:02AM
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I think I have decided to go roadside to start this year. I have talked to the township & health dept. and I am ok to go, no special permits needed so far (just don't wash the produce). I have a real nice gazebo that is the same size as a market stall or bigger. I am having a banner made with my logo and will be making some real nice signs to put along the property to alert to the stand ahead. I will have 3 tiered stands to put baskets on, and will have tables with cloths also. I will also offer recipes and info cards on the different varieties. I am going to set certain hours & then maybe use the honor system. I think it will just take a little time for people to realize that I will have fresh produce to offer on a daily basis & then I hope to get a regular customer base. I am hoping to get people interested in cooking with what is fresh & in season, and maybe to get new recipe ideas.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 11:42AM
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We tried the "honor" systems for a couple of years. Our stand was about 1000 feet away from house and out of sight. I thought it worked fine, we checked the stand every few hours, until 2 large watermelons were gone and no money in box. After that we started weighing and counting what we put in the stand. We realized that only about 1/2 of the produce were actually being paid for. That ended the farm stand. We are not in a community known for theft, but evidently people thought since someone was not physically at the stand, they could and did take things without paying for them.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 8:15PM
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I understand what you are saying about the honor system. However there is a greenhouse business a couple of miles away and about July when sales are dying down, rather than staff the place, beleive it or not, they put a sign with the prices and a small cash register drawer w/ $100.00 in it. People can write checks or make the change. I talked to the owner and he said he only had a problem once and it was a part time employee who knew about it. We locals appriciate the year end bargains and the trust. The guy across the road does the same w/ pupmkins. I am sure we will lose some, but will have to weigh the losses vs. the man hours spent.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 10:02AM
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veggierosalie(CAN 3)

maybe you could install one of those farm driveway 'doorbells'. It rings in the house to let you know someone is in the stand, and lets potential thieves know that they are being watched. They are fairly inexpensive.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 10:36AM
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I am re-considering the stand, but closer to the house. I thought about those "doorbells", does anyone know how far away do they work. I even had a neighbor watching the stand and he actually caught 1 person filling bags and putting them in her car without paying. He cornered her, and she denied that the produce in her car came from my stand. I even thought about putting a camera out there.

I do well at my farmer's market, and the neighbors know that IF they can catch me at home, I'll sell to them. They also know that I have large dogs that LOOK dangerous.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 3:16PM
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My stand will be right by my house, although we are always in the back. The doorbell sounds great. What do you mean by "farm driveway bell". Where can you purchase one?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 11:04AM
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veggierosalie(CAN 3)

these alarms are like motion detectors that have a wireless system so you can instal them at the gate and hear in the house if anyone crosses the gate/roadway. I have seen them advertised in the back of acreage and cottage magazines. I know that where I live they sell them at the farm supply shop (it is called Peavy Mart here) but I think they can also be bought on-line.

We have a problem with theft even in the fully staffed farm stand. It always amazes me that people, with seemingly enough money to purchase a nice car, will steal food! It also happens at the farmers market, but usually I ignore that because those people often have mental health issues. We also have problems with people going into our fields and loading up! I have caught people with the whole back seat of their car filled with potatoes...

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 8:40PM
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Sorry to hear about theft at fully-staffed farm stands. I was hoping that with someone in attendance, we would "miss out" on that. I have had some theft at the farmers market, but very little. Usually the next week, the customer would come back and say something like, "I forgot to pay you for ???, sorry I got talking, let me pay you."

It does seem like the more someone has, or looks like they have, the more likely they're to "borrow". Not everyone, thank goodness. The people that we have caught, all seemed to have nice cars and clothes. If someone really needed food, all they need to do is ask. I might ask them to help work some in the fields or somewhere, but they would not leave empty handed in regards to food.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 2:19PM
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