farmers market?

texas_is_homeDecember 29, 2009

Im going to be sixteen in about a year and some months, and i was wondering if 16 is old enough to go to the farmers market. during the summer when i grow my garden, i get more produce than my family and i can eat and i was wondering if i can maybe sell some of it.

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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Go for it. I would love to see younger gardeners at our markets. Gardening is a lost art, I am glad to here you are interested in it. If you get started now, with some parental support, just think in 3-5 years you could be doing it full time as a career? Just a thought.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 11:08PM
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texas_is_home

yeah. i think agriculture is a lost art in general. Thats why i joined my local FFA. gardening/farming made America.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 11:54PM
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myfamilysfarm

I say, go for it. you might need an adult to sign the contract if your farmers market has one. But you can run the stand without any trouble.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 4:42PM
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tommyk

There is no age limit to being a gardener . . . just enthusiasm and the joy of being outdoors and getting your hands in the soil. Selling at a Farmers' Market is also a good experience where you meet other gardeners/farmers, learn from others and more importantly the social & community aspect is vital to the town.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 9:41AM
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texas_is_home

thats exactly what i need to work on though. the social part. im not really a talker, im more of a listener. and also i LOVE learning from others.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 7:47PM
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myfamilysfarm

If you love what you are doing, just share it with your customers. I used to be shy, but now don't get me started on my farmers market or growing veggies. I can talk your leg off.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 5:22PM
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timmylaz(NC zone8)

I like your enthusiasm texas! Go for it...I'm not a real social creature myself (unless you consider spending most of your free time walking around your garden social). That part will come. Key things- one, I wish I were better at- people love for you to say their name. two, know your product inside and out...sure there are other key things but these two will get you to the social aspect that is somewhat "required" I wish I'd have had good direction at your age! Good luck and happy gardening! OH, and being a good listener is a GREAT attribute!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 12:53PM
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tommyk

The social aspect of Farmers' Markets is one of the best things about it. Talking with other vendors is beneficial if you are just starting out. Many shoppers ask lots of questions about your products so be prepared. Always be polite, even to people who are rude. Most people go to Farmers' Market for a good time, good food, good plants, and are friendly. But any time you deal with the public there is going to be some you just can't please. If someone complains about a product, just give them their money back without arguing.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 1:25PM
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texas_is_home

Thanks for support guys! See i think that would be a perfect thing for me to do, i am nice and respectful to everyone, if there not happy with my product i will gladly return the money and I'm friendly

timmylaz-that's how i always spend my time! just walking around in the garden.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 9:05PM
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myfamilysfarm

I offer an money back guarantee, especially on watermelons. I offer to replace or refund if I don't have the same item. It has worked for me for over 10 years now. Just a suggestion. I started this when I had a supplier that guaranteed his melon to me, so I wasn't out anything.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 10:04AM
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grannymarsh(z4-5 U.P. MICH)

Texas : in the beginning you don't need to be a great talker. Just pretend to be. Put on your game face and let'er rip.
Say hi to everyone that walks by, try to ask ???'s that cannot be answered with only a yes or no. It works. You need to get the walker-bys to slow down.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 8:37PM
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myfamilysfarm

Definitely acknowledge everyone that comes near, with either a "Hi" or "Good Morning", if is morning. It gets the possible customer's attention.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 9:20AM
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teauteau(KC5/6)

Hi Texas-is-home,
As others have said, you don't need to be a master conversationalis. I'll tell you what, a sincere smile works wonders, a nod of the head and just simple hello or hi there will draw people to your table and make sure you have prices on your goods. Like you, some people may not have a whole lot to say at the time and are hesitant to ask for prices. If you feel the urge, talk about your stuff. If have moments of shyness myself but when I start talking about my stuff, I start getting enthusiastic and pretty soon, people are getting into the conversation and I end up selling something. As you do this more and more, you'll feel more confident and comfortable but you don't have to be a great public speaker to look and be friendly and helpful and sell your stuff. I've always loved growing things and man I wish I would have started doing this years and years ago. I too love walking slowly through the rows, looking at the plants and their fruits, watching the birds and snakes and other animals that visit my farm. Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 12:16PM
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phantomfyre(z5, N. IL)

Texas, I'd be inclined to think that your age would work FOR you. I say that because if I personally were shopping a farmers' market, and came across a young vendor that was enthusiastically growing his/her own products, I'd definitely lean towards buying from them simply to show my support for their efforts. And then, if the products were great on top of that, I'd become a loyal customer, no questions. Start now, and you could build a customer base now that would likely stay with you for as long as you wish to continue. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 5:40PM
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groall

Myfamilysfarm...has given me good advise before...on the other end of years from "Texas" but do have a little road side hay wagon where I put out extras and somethings I grow for the stand...just trying to cover a little of my plant addiction..cost of tubers/seeds, over $200 worth so far.....but was wondering what other folks found were good sellers on their stands or in the market...I like growing pumpkins and squash....

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 11:23PM
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timmylaz(NC zone8)

My market-
They love heirloom tomatoes.
To my disappointment (since I am a bit of a chili head) the hot peppers just sit there and look pretty. If I had only one penny for each time I heard "wow, look at those beautiful peppers, all the colors" I would have had more revenue from them than they grossed!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 11:52AM
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tommyk

Heirloom tomatoes are always popular, just let people know that just because a tomato is not red doesn't mean it isn't any good. Cukes, green beans, squash, eggplant, onions are great sellers for us. In addition cut flowers, either singles or in bouquets account for up to 40% of our sales. We also sell container perennial plants we start from seeds, herbs, garlic always sells fast. For some reasons peppers are a little slow, hot peppers too. I guess the best thing is to bring what you have in small amounts and see what is popular and sells. One thing we've learned is people always fool us . . . just when you think you know what they want, they don't want it and ask for something else!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 3:30PM
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texas_is_home

What else is popular in farmers market? You dont always have to sell vegies do ya?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 5:10PM
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myfamilysfarm

small fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and the like. Herbs, garlic, crafts in some markets. If you have a certified kitchen and a good cook, baked goods and jellies go over very well.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 7:00PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

and don't forget the eggs. Both duck and chicken are popular.

Eric

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 8:05PM
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texas_is_home

Wow this Farmers Market idea just gets better and better! because not only do i grow excessive amounts of produce, we are also expecting some chickens in a lil' while, i LOVE to make crafts AND i love to bake! (how do you get certified?)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 9:26PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

You would be better off using a church kitchen or grange hall kitchen. You wont be able to use your personel kitchen.

Eric

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 9:47PM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

Texas, you may be able to use your home kitchen as some states have what they call "Cottage Industry Rules" which allows a person to make a lot of food in their home kitchen with restrictions. your state Dept of Agriculture will have this sort of information.

In Ohio we have cottage industry rules and can sell home made breads, pies, brownies, granola, jams/jellies, pickles, dried herbs and several other items.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 4:36AM
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myfamilysfarm

In Indiana, a law was passed this last year, exempting farmer market vendors from having a certified kitchen. But my market will not allow us to do us.

Also, in Indiana, the church kitchen may be certified or not. The certified kitchens may be used to retail baked goods. The non=certified kitchens may be used only IF the items are sold as a non-profit.

Plus, if you do the jellies and jams, you will need to attend a class to teach you HOW to process them correctly. Like 30-40 years doesn't teach you anything.

I have been grumbling about our market making their rules stricter than the state law. Sorry just had to get that out.

Each state and market may have different rules.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 8:15AM
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prmsdlndfrm

If you keep at it, read everything you can find, befriend older folks who have been doing this longer than you ve been alive you can make this your lifes vocation. I am speaking from experience. I am more than twice your age, but I have wanted to farm since I was five years old, the adice I gave at the top was what my dad told me, and it worked, I have even bought my own 160 acre farm, I was able to do that by befriending a retired farmer, for several years I rented this farm and spent time with the farmer, conversing and learning, and he sold me the place cheap just to help me out. So dont let the nay sayers discourage you, you will hear folks say you cant make a living farming, you cant farm unless your born into it.

I want to say you have an awesome attitude, and are doing everything right, I have said what Ive said to hopefully encourage you for the inevitable times that will come when your discouraged, you are pursuing one of the most noble of endeavors. Good luck and God bless.
josh

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 9:36AM
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myfamilysfarm

Farm Marketing is FUN, IMO. After living 40+ years NOT doing the market, I've found that overall it's fun. Yes there are depressing times, but the good times outweigh the bad. I'm glad I did not have to buy the land, but I do have to find and buy the equipment, which I buy for cash, not credit. My biggest thing is that I never want to lose my farm due to not being able to pay my mortgage. Taxes-I can deal with, my county has low property tax.

At this time, it's the waiting that drives me nuts. Of course, when I can get planting, you probably won't see my on the forums much. Too busy working the farm. I don't have any animals at this time, but are considering a couple of calves to grass feed. It would help with mowing. Just thinking about them at this time. Son & dil are getting 2 for this year, and we'll see how that goes.

Is there a topic for raising calves on this forum, anybody know? We are using some of the field that was soybeans, and we need to know what type of grass that we need to plant for them. Do you think I need to start a thread on the market forum for this, or is there another one? Plan on growing 1 and selling 1.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 9:47AM
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texas_is_home

ok so you need to get your kitchen certified? wow that kinda bombs the whole thing for the baked goods :(

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 10:21PM
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myfamilysfarm

It depends on your state and your market. Have you decided which market that you are going to? I have already received my market contract for my market starting May 1st. You need to check with them and your county board of health. Some places don't ask for the certification.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 8:18AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

Texas contact your county board of health about getting a kitchen licensed. Expect to spend at least $5 grand to do this sort of thing.

And since this is your first year you might want to scale back on your plans as there are only 24 hours in a day and growing and harvesting will take up the bulk of your time right before market meaning in order to bake as well as do produce someone will have to stay awake for 24 hours to get it all done on time for market. On produce alone I spend 4 hours on the farm for every hour we spend selling at market. When we were young and not efficient it was more like 4 hours each. So for a 5 hour market 20 hours is spent picking, washing packing-for me that is the two days before market spending around 10 hours a day doing nothing but getting produce ready.

I have thought about baking things to take as well but that would mean staying up until 2 or 3 am than getting up to go to market at 4:30am-not worth it.

If you bite off more than you can reasonably chew this market farming thing can get horribly overwhelming and not fun to do.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 6:28PM
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texas_is_home

I hear ya' boulderbelt, im just gonna' stick with the veggies and crafts(if i do make any)

O! great news. i sent an email to our local farmers market (i cant remember what the person is) but anyways, i sent a letter to see how old you have to be to sell vegetables, he replied back saying that as far as he knows there are no age restrictions! that means i can sell some this summer!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 8:04PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

yippy skippy LOL!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 9:13PM
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myfamilysfarm

There is no age restrictions at my farmers market, but there is a restriction on how old you have to be to sign a contract. So if that's the case in your state, ask your parents to sign it for you. Same thing with getting the insurance that you might be required to have.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 10:54AM
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texas_is_home

hmm...sounds like a bump in the road. Insurence? do you really think i would need that?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 7:11PM
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myfamilysfarm

My market requires it. Some market do and some don't. It's a general liability policy to cover you in case your canopy/tent/table would fall on someone that decides to sue you. Mine is thru AutoOwners and it cost me, last year, $125. It's based on your sales. Since this will be your first year, figure your sales on the low side. The $125 was a minimum fee. My sales that I reported to them was very low, $7000. You might be able to get an umbrella policy, or a rider on the homeowner's policy. But if you do that, the homeowner's policy probably needs to be in your name. Maybe, you could put the farmer's market stand in your parent's name and use their homeowner's policy.

Insurance is a safety net, so that you have protection from someone suing you. You may not need to use it, but if you have to, you will appreciate it.

As far as snags, I have found the more snags, the better the outcome of the situation.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 7:35PM
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henhousefarms

Forgive me for comming a little late to this thread, some realy great photos from all of you. It's amazing the ideas one gets from looking at other peoples stands. Here are some pics of our stand (among other things).

Here is a link that might be useful: Decatur 2009 market

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 8:07PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

henhousefarms,

Nice pictures and nice produce stand. I see you have a John Deere 400 from the 1970's. I have one also. I'll take some photos of it tomorrow. Does the counter weight and wheel weights make a big difference??

Eric

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 9:06PM
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henhousefarms

Those old 400's are great tractors. The weights make a huge difference, especially the front set. We have quite a bit of equipment for her and without them the front end just skids. Even with the transplanter (which is not all that heavy) it makes control so much easier. I wish in retrospect that I had ribbed wheels on the front instead of the turfs but maybe the next set. That translanter has proven to be a huge time saver - we are planting sweet potatoes in these pics and 500 slips take maybe 45 minutes. We also use it for onions (the draw bar is set up to shift to the outside so we can plant them on 6" centers and 12" rows. We can do in a good morning all our sets (7-9k usually) where by hand is was a two day job.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 10:35PM
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myfamilysfarm

I love the idea of using the garden tractor with the transplanter. Unfortunately hubby did not want me to see it. Now I will want one. Does it take a 3-pt or does it pull behind. We have a couple little ATVs and smaller garden tractors, NOT JDs. None have 3-pt.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 8:36AM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

John Deere 400 has a 3 point and a belt driven PTO.

Eric

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 12:22PM
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myfamilysfarm

shucks. I only wish!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 4:42PM
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timmylaz(NC zone8)

Hey texas is home I started a new thread you might want to keep and eye on...Market 'Must haves'
Hopefully the experienced Market Gardeners will post what they consider to be their own personal "must haves" for their farmers market. This should help you in preparing for market.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 2:52PM
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texas_is_home

ill keep an eye out for the thread. i was thinking by the way, we have a butload of pecans and i think i might sell them in the spring. IDK any thoughts?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 6:56PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

A buttload.

There is an exact unit of volume called the butt. See Webster's dictionary:

Butt - a measure of liquid capacity equal to 126 gallons or two hogs heads.

In another dictionary:

An English butt is 2 hogshead of 54 imperial gallons each or ~129.7 US gallons (i.e., a UK butt is apparently slightly bigger than a US one).

A Spanish butt is based on a wine cask and is equivalent to 140 US gallons or ~116.6 UK gallons (i.e., a Spanish butt is bigger still)

So next time someone says they have a "butt load" of stuff, just remember, that is about 2 55-gallon barrels worth of stuff.

Eric

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 7:49PM
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thosedarnsqurls(Up-State NY 5)

Eric.....

Laughing my american butt off!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 9:29PM
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myfamilysfarm

I'll be careful the next time I want to say "I have a butt load".

Yes, try to sell those pecans.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 10:16AM
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texas_is_home

yes im hoping to sell those, some zucchini and tomatoes...at least. if this year is good then i will be able to sell small melons, bell peppers, tons of beans (mostly pinto), flowers.

another question, what do you think about selling bird seeds? like when i have a plant that isnt really desirable to eat, it usually has good seeds. i could mix them in with some millet and sunflower seeds that i grow and i was thinking about selling these types of seeds: pumpkin, squash, cantaloupe, cucumber, sunflower, & a few others i cant think of right now.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 1:16PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

texas is home,

Bird seed sounds interesting. I'll be selling mealworms and black soldier fly larvae, in the future, as poultry feed. Some reptile owners would buy them too. You have to remember all the labor involved. All these fruits, pumpkins, squashes, cantaloupes, and cucumber would have to be dressed. Cut them open, scoop out the seeds, seperate the seeds from the pulp, thoroughly dry them out so they don't mold. etc etc.

Don't let me discourage you

Eric

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 3:10PM
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myfamilysfarm

My market's rules state any produce sold must be 'fit for human consumption'. Otherwise, I'd try it.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 9:54PM
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texas_is_home

well myfamilysfarm I can sell a bunch of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds and say there for people to eat ;)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 1:20PM
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myfamilysfarm

That's what I would do, if I had the time to process the seeds. I might do that this year.

Marla

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 2:48PM
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wordwiz

A great source of info about FMs, at least in Ohio, it the County Extension Service. We have some strange laws here, but ones that are easy to work around. I can sell a bag of tomatoes that weigh a pound, and tell people the bag is about a pound for $1, but I cannot sell them for $1 per pound unless I have a certified scale that has been tested. Or I can tell them the tomatoes have all been grown using without using any artificial ferts or pesticides, but I cannot call them organically grown unless I want to go through a tedious certif-ication process.

YMMV,

Mike

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 5:24PM
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myfamilysfarm

When I started out with the farmers market business, our extension office was a waste of time. They were interested in 4Hers and home gardeners. They had NOTHING in regards to working a farmers market as a business. Our market has a few 'hobby gardeners', unfortunately they don't know how much it cost to produce their produce and underprice those of us trying to make a profit.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 6:20PM
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wordwiz

What state are you in? I get press releases and there are at least two if not five messages a week about FMs. Got one today where the ExS is doing a project that hooks up growers looking for a market with a market looking for growers.

Mike

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 8:59PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

wordwiz,

Same here. We use a legal scale and say, grown with organic techniques. We are not certified.

Eric

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 9:01PM
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myfamilysfarm

We're in Indiana. Mike that sounds like a great idea for people looking for more or different markets. Me, I've been with this market since 2000 and don't know if I've got enough energy, let alone produce, for anymore markets.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 8:51AM
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texas_is_home

well i am in Texas...so i dont even know the regulations and stuff.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 8:59PM
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myfamilysfarm

Texas, you will learn. You won't even more HOW much you've learned until a newbie starts asking questions of you and tells you that you know SOOO much.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 9:06PM
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texas_is_home

WOW! OLD FOURM!! hahah but turns out i didnt get to sell at the farmers market because i had to leave for the summer. BUMMER!!!!! (sigh) theres always next yr.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 12:36PM
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teauteau(KC5/6)

Spent the summer in Juvie, eh Tex? What a drag! I'm just kidding! ;o)

One of the cool things about Autumn is...There's always next year to think and plan. Time to relax a little and recoup. Go over lessons learned, etc. I bought a used tractor this year and some implements and had some great success with my greenhouse starts so...Here's to Next Year!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 1:32PM
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myfamilysfarm

I'm already planning what to plant for 2011. Can you believe that it's almost OCTOBER. Our market ends at the end of October with nothing much til the first of May.

Around here, this wouldn't have been the best year to start marketing. Not alot of stuff grew well. I'm hoping 2011 will be much better.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 5:52PM
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texas_is_home

The pecans i was hoping to sell sat there awhile! well its fall again so i gave a lot to my family.

are there any unusual items that sell big at farmers markets? (Im trying to make as much money as i can so i can save up for college)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 11:21AM
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