maket newbie

cowlover_eastMay 3, 2011

Tomorrow I am taking my grass-fed beef to a farmer's market for the first time. Previously I have sold it through our retail Christmas tree outlet. I am considering growing and selling garden produce along with it(I always over-produce my own garden and end up just letting stuff rot) as we have land we don't know what to do with as the majority of people in our area have gone artifical. Do you have to wash the stuff for people,like beans and loose heads of lettuce? Or will folks buy it and expect to wash it themselves? Also about corn, we do not use pesticde on our ssweetcorn and if there's a worm, I just cut it out, but it seems like city people find that "gross" Anyone have suggestions?

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boulderbelt(5/6)

To do produce right you need to be able to wash it and cool it (i.e a fridge) . You can sell dirty produce but people will not pay as much for it and will buy the more expensive but clean produce before they buy dirty stuff.

On the corn you either cull out all the ears with worms or shuck them, cut off the effected part and than bag up the ears. people might by wormy corn once but they will not come back a second time.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 10:08AM
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cowlover_east

Thanks for the info about vegtables,boulderbelt, I never thought about triming up the corn and selling it like that.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 10:05AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I have a little different opinion.
For corn, walk along with any kind of oil in a dripper bottle and put a drop on it when it gets silks. This will kill the worm. I did this last year and it was easy and fun and no worms!
I wash off field dirt on certain veggies like carrots and potatoes but I do not wash all veggies. Many stay better when unwashed, like green beans that don't store after a washing. I pick lettuce when it is cool and don't wash it. The thing is if you tell customers your stuff is washed there is legal stuff involved. If there is something on it and you said it was washed... As for bugs- they don't like to see insects. For double safety I soak my broccoli in salt water for a few minutes while showering for market. It helps it look better at market and tells me if there are cabbage worms present. I tried some selling of washed veg in steam bags but it was not worth it and since I don't have a certified kitchen (a rather cat-y kitchen actually) I stopped doing that.
I also don't wash tomatoes, peppers, zucs, cucs for the most part. Wiping them is a better idea, especially for zucs.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 7:45PM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

As long as you do not put ready to eat on the bags the produce is in there should be no legal ramifications to washing produce. we are allowed to do hydro cooling (i.e dunking stuff in cold water to get the field heat out) and with leafy greens it makes a huge difference in how long they will store in your customer's fridges. Unwashed/cooled lettuce lasts at best 5 days. but hydrocooled and refrigerated lettuce will easily last 3 weeks

Any more, after doing this 17 years I generally wash everything that comes in from the field, especially if it is muddy and most things go into a fridge. Tomatoes are big exception to this, I don't wash them unless they are dirty and they never ever go in the fridge. potatoes are another one I rarely wash as dirty taters store a lot better than clean taters. It is easy enough for me to do this as everything has to go by the wash station before going into the packing shed

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 5:43AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

If you wash lettuce it must be spun dry. If you are a small grower you don't have the equipment.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 8:45PM
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myfamilysfarm

I have always rinsed my lettuces, and the way I did it was; pick the lettuces and put them in a mesh bag (I used a large soft onion/potato bag, 20-25# size), dip the bag into a large barrel of clean water, up and down several times. After rinsing, spin the bag in the air for a few minutes, basically spin dry. Then I hung the bag on a hook while I was getting some other things prepped. When ready, I shook the bag, and done.

You don't have to have much equipment my way, I never did, and I was bringing in 20-30 lbs per day.

Marla

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:06AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

Minnie, I am a very small grower and I have the equipment-a commercial hand cranked salad spinner than costs under $200. Before that I used a string bag that cost under $5 (but I have really bad rotator cuffs and after 2 seasons and a lot of pain I decided to spend $150 on the salad spinner which has worked very well for me for over 13 years (so it coasts me about $11.25 a year to use).

Many people use broken washing machines that still have a working spin cycle. One can usually pick up such a machine for free.

Salad spinners are not expensive at all, or at least I do not consider spending up to $300 on a piece of equipment that will work for 10+ years expensive (especially when it helps the bottom line so dramatically and save a lot of time), If I did I would not have bought the BCS tiller we use, the wheel how, the refrigerators, the EZ Up nor all the plastic we use for hoop houses, among other things.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 5:18AM
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myfamilysfarm

Boulderbelt, maybe some of these people are only expecting to do this for a year or so.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 9:09AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

Marla, that may be so but she did ask how to do lettuce and I know from over a decade of growing and processing greens they need to be cooled in water and spun dry and a 5 gallon salad spinner (which can be had for around $100 with shipping) is something I feel any greens grower should have (as it is a lot faster and easier on the body than the $5 string bag and a lot more stable than an old washing machine).

And Minnie has been doing this for a few years and is not indicating she is getting out any time soon.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 11:37AM
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myfamilysfarm

Boulderbelt, I understand what you are saying and agree. I haven't bought the spinner, only because I never seem to have enough cash (no credit) and I don't grow much in the greens area.

Marla

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 2:10PM
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