Joining a Farmers Market for the first time.............

heidi41(z5 Mass)September 30, 2004

Up till now, I've sold my products from my road side stand. I feel I've done very well with my set up. Well I have now decided to expand my growing fields and will be joining a local farmers market next may. However, today, as I walked thru the Farmers market I was very dissapointed with the items that the farmers had. Even though there were several vegetable vendors, they didn't have very much to offer. I didn't see even one vendor selling cut flowers., bushels of apples, pumpkins, dried flowers or many other items that could be profitable. And here I was worried that I wouldn't have enough items for sale. I am actually looking forward to selling theere next May as I feel I can easily compete with the other vendors. I guess I was suffering from "lack of confidence" in my own market items. NOW, I CAN'T WAIT TILL NEXT MAY. Heidi

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reinbeaux(z8 WA State)

Good for you! I wish you all the success in the world!

Markets are fun - although since I have no employees, on slow days I wish I were back home working on growing more plants (I also wholesale to several nurseries)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2004 at 7:37PM
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My advice would be

1. Producures only market!

2. Make your display REALLY nice!

3. Grow a few things no one else has (Heirlooms, ect)

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 7:50AM
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Let's see. Zone 5 Mass. Could the reason you didn't see any vendors with cutflowers be they had been hit by frost??????????????

    Bookmark   December 18, 2004 at 4:02PM
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garliclady(z7 NC)

Sept isn't a good time to evaluate a market. Some farmers don't grow for fall. At that late date there may have been few vegetables and flowers. here in the carolinas we have a gap in market between hot weather produce and the cool weather ones.during those gaps we have little to offer.
At some of the markets here fruit can be hard to find. Here most fruit comes only from "fruit growers" that specialize in fruit. And small farms may grow very little
good luck at your farmers market. They are fun !

    Bookmark   December 18, 2004 at 4:13PM
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heidi41(z5 Mass)

Flowerfarmer....Sorry but as of Sept 30 we still hadn't been hit by our first frost. I know this for a fact as I was still harvesting and selling till atleast the middle to end of Oct and I do live right here. So I doubt that they got hit with a frost. However the market is only 2 years old so they still need to build up thier marketers. Regardless of the reasons for thier lack, I'm still going to give it a try. Heidi

    Bookmark   December 18, 2004 at 4:23PM
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like2weed(z5 NY)

I am a hobby gardener who wants to make a leap into part time sales to supplement my income. I live in zone 5 - western nystate, and don't have a greenhouse. Am I out of my mind? I really love plants and want to spend more and more time with them. How can I start? Heidi, you must have a very visible and estblished farm location to sell roadside. I am in the residential part of a village. Any books for suggested reading available? flowers and/or vegetables is what I'm thinking.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2004 at 11:31AM
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Most markets can support more than several vendors of vegetable, flowers or fruits. It pays to do your homework and see what might sell that is not there. Fresh cut flowers sell well here in mixed bunches. Of course the time they are available is not a long period. Tomatoes, onions, garlic and fruit sell well but sometimes there is not a lot of fruit because of freezes. Our market you must produce what you sell. The more different vegetables do not sell real well as most of the buyers are retired and want fresh but not different. So it depends on who your clients are and what is available as to what is a good seller. I sell tomatoes-mostly heirloom, peppers, onions, garlic and a lot of yellow squash and zucchini (yes, people want 1 or 2 who do not have gardens or friends who do)

    Bookmark   December 20, 2004 at 6:29PM
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In my zone 5 location, we usually have lots of asters and dahlias in late September. Most of the asters will be those that have been started outdoors. Statice will continue right up until frost as a filler. Sometime in October, the mums kick in  often after the first frost.

We begin in May with plant starts and have vegetables as well as flowers throughout the season. Plan, plan, plan, plan.

In growing as in life, timing is everything. Try to coordinate your production so that you've got a steady offering in your booth. You can try for extra during a busy week like Labor Day weekend, or during a regular market event. However, it's better to sell out on busy marketdays than bring tons of produce unnecessarily on the slow days.

Consistency will also build a regular customer base. If they know that they can always find you there with something good, you'll get them back again and again. Probably way more than half our customers have bought from us repeatedly over the months & years. They are our bread & butter.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 1:06AM
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i have found that the peak time for a farmers market is july. by time august rolls around a lot of people who are interested in fresh produce have got their own gardens producing.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2004 at 6:43AM
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ohiorganic(5/6 SW Ohio)

I fnd our top months for selling at market are Sept, Oct, Nov.July and August are the slower months for us because we sell in a college town and most people are gone those months. But come September they are back and buying.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2004 at 4:11PM
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You are exactly right. Sept, Oct, and Nov are great months for selling at market. It is, after all, all about planning. We do two markets. One in an urban area that in the past peaked Labor Day weekend. It went fairly strong until it closed the weekend before Thanksgiving this season. The demand for cutflowers was there until the end. The other market we do is along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. This market has a shorter season for us with vacationers, or people who have cottages in the area. This market finishes up the last Saturday in October. We usually end there a couple weeks after Labor Day. The locals don't support the market as well. The market is highly advertised; and, we have no complaints. It's in a beautiful setting as well. We enjoy meeting people vacationing from all the other states. And, we really LOVE people from Illinois.

Anyway, I wish you much luck Heidi. Just remember: if you think you have made a mistake by growing perhaps the wrong flower, etc., it isn't really a mistake at all. It's call a learning experience. We always hope not to have all the learning experiences in one growing season though!!
We love what we are doing. It's a passion with us.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2004 at 8:32AM
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We are expanding cold frames, raised beds which can be covered, hoop houses, and hot frames to extend our early and late growing. When people start dropping out of market and before a lot of growers are there is the best time to sell. In my experience there may be fewer customers but they are the solid customers who actually buy. Also by getting in early, even if it is with just a few things, you can establish a relationship that will help keep customers when there are a ton of producers.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 10:35AM
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heidi41(z5 Mass)

I am soooo excited with all this planning for the MARKET. I have always had a thriving roadside stand but wanted to join into the Market world. The Farmers market is having a meeting for all marketers this January. They also have a speaker from the agriculture department coming in. Now I just need to plan plan plan. At least with the farm stand there seems to be less planning involved (my opinion). I've been talking to alot of people out here about what they would be more apt to buy from the market. It seems that they AREN'T looking for the unusual, they seem to want the ordinary and familiar things. However, I figure I'm still going to try some different produce. Good luck to ALL. HEIDI

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 7:17AM
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Patsyptrsn(z4 minnesota)

Plant a few unusual and out of the ordinary veg. is not a bad thing. You may not sell a lot of them but sometimes its enough to may people stop at your table and ask questions. So if you grow it know how to cook it and really know your product. I grow a few new things every year besides the old standbys. Now I have customers come to see whats new and to buy things I have converted them to. I am a one person operation, sometimes I have to give some away to get people to try it and have them tell me what they think. But you need some good recipes for them to try. Some of the unusual things I grow are yard long beans, dakion radish, purple beans,pac choi, big variety of hot peppers, orka, collards,swiss chard to name a few. Other vendors will send customers to me if they are looking for the unusual just because I might have it. Plan for some late crops when every one else is out of product, hope this helps a little If I can help please feel free to contact me. Patty

    Bookmark   January 6, 2005 at 1:59PM
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heidi41(z5 Mass)

My first Farmer's Market Meeting is scheduled for Saturday Jan 8. I will be meeting the other market growers. This is going to be a good help as I will know what types of things are not currently being sold. Right now they only have about l5 to 20 vendors, so I think the field will still be open to a lot of things. I do plan on some extra early crops of tomatoes(greenhouse grown) and cukes also greenhouse grown. I'll be starting my season off with mostly bedding plants, veggie starts and potted herbs...followed by cut flowers, veggies, and potted herbs and annuals. Count down to the first market is 4 months from now. They open the first Thursay of May. I'll keep you updated. HEIDI

    Bookmark   January 7, 2005 at 7:13AM
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