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Old 08/16/05, 05:26 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Yelm, WA
Posts: 263
how much $ at farmers market?

Does anybody here make like 25-$30,000 a year at a farmers market? How much do you make? I was thinking of growing a couple acres of flowers, to sell as cut flowers. And vegetables. Which sells better at your market.

Thanks, Mike
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Old 08/16/05, 07:16 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,395
I've never made that, but never put forth that much effort either. Flowers just do not sell in our market. I give more away than sell. They do attract people to the booth, however.
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Old 08/16/05, 08:09 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,693
Flowers and crafts outsell produce at most of the farm markets around here.
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Old 08/16/05, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: NW PA
Posts: 730
Yes, we have made that and more in good years. Last year we probably cleared around 23K after taxes, payroll, etc. Most of it was in sweetcorn sales but we also sold veggies and some flowers. It is a lot of work but can be done.
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Old 08/16/05, 08:17 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 474
We have been averaging $70-80 on Saturday mornings, 9am-noon. We sell honey and eggs, mostly, and occassionally a few surplus veggies from the garden, and this is at a very small market (usually 4-8 vendors on Saturdays).

However, one of the other vendors told us that he sold $20,000 worth of veggies last season- but, he sells at three different markets and has help- his mother sells at one, and he sells at two others- I think they average about 5 market days a week between them.

Right now the vendors are only selling veggies, berries, a few eggs, and some flowers, no craft vendors this year. Veggies and fruits definitely outsell flowers by a wide margin.
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Old 08/16/05, 08:41 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 7,576
It depends what you sell, of course. And if everyone sold the same things, and if too many vendors offered say cut flowers it's likely you would not sell out, or end up wasting time selling for little profit. Niche products or selling at times when large numbers of customers will ensure you sell enough is your best bet.

It was more than 10 years ago I sold at farmer's market on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. usually would sell $150 to $200 worth of whatever we had. Early on was select bedding plants up to fall selling squash and tomatoes. That was a part time effort holding full time jobs. In other words, hobby money to help pay expenses for the garden property.

Full time, one should be able to make $25K to $30K as you would put in full days and be a full time seller devoted to that. You could also have a lot of expenses, so you need to factor in what really you are doing. A honey producer here makes a good living selling at the market, but he also has about 200 hives and is at it full bore with that committment. Selling eggs at farmer's market would hold little profit for a small producer, once you deduct feed costs keeping the hens. Might do better selling direct at the farm gate with that.
The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.

Last edited by moonwolf; 08/16/05 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 08/16/05, 09:01 AM
JAS JAS is offline
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 643
I'm just starting, don't make a lot.

The market manager has a large operation. I don't know what they pull in, but they also sell to Wal-Mart and the other grocery stores in town--green beans, sweet corn and some other stuff, not sure what.

Another vendor has a large variety of items but admits that the snap beans and potatoes are his main money makers.

My daughter wants to get in on the action with cut flowers. Any suggestions (no glads--too many sell those already)? I am currently selling sunflowers, not a lot but everyone likes looking at them.
White, South Dakota
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Old 08/16/05, 09:35 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Kansas
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I did a little figuring on that.

It takes a few months of the summer before you have anything to sell, which means that the $15,000 has to be made in just a couple of months sales. Autumn sales out here are just not very good for sales for anyone.

I gave up the idea because I didn't think that I could do it.

That being said, I know a lady with a permanant stand at the side of a major road who makes that and more. She hires pickers for the sweet corn and she and a couple of others do the sales. The pickers deliver each load of corn as they get it, so they are selling corn that is minutes old.

She has 4 great advantage.
1. location by a major artery, 3 miles outside of town, with a place to turn out. EVERYONE drives by her stand!
2. fresh-picked sweet corn, as well as a good assortment of other veggies (Nothing perishable like lettuce, she has melons, potatos, okra, and other tropicals).
3. A professional appearance, with a solid and permanant source of shade, a tractor pulling a load of corn at regular intervals, and friendly assistance.
4. Time. She is established, has a large group of customers who KNOW her food is first-rate, and they have been buying from her for years.

MOST of her cropland is rented just a stones throw away. She owns the spot by the side of the road where she sells, and the greenhouses she starts her plants in. That keeps her overhead low.

I know of a SECOND backyard business that relied on greenhouse sales. They had the handicap of living somewhat off of the beaten path.

Basically, their keys were to advertize in the local paper for 5 months before they opened, and they had actually drawn a map for the ad. On the ad they ALSO said that they would be selling 10 cent tomatos and marigolds (15 cents in todays money).

MAn, did people buy their seedlings! They came for the cheap plants, and as long as they were there they bought the OTHER seedlings at full price.

The first year they had one greenhouse and a part-time business. The next year the lady quit her job to work the (Now 2) greenhouses full time. And, the third year the gent quit HIS job to work the (now 3 ) greenhouses full time, also.
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Old 08/16/05, 09:59 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Kansas
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For you folks that DO make a good income from the Farmers MArket, can you tell me how long it took you to work up to a usefull income? Did you start out making enough to cover a summers employement, or did you have to work up to it?
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Old 08/16/05, 10:30 AM
r.h. in okla.
Posts: n/a
This is something I hope to get into next year. I plan on having a produce stand at home to sell when I'm not at farmers markets. I also plan to try some pick-your own-crops such as strawberries, blueberries, bush cherries, blackberries, green beans, corn, and tomatoes. Hopefully by doing a combination of pick your own, farmers market, and my own produce stand, maybe I can make at least half my salary for the year.

I just finished reading a book "Sell What You Sow!" by Eric Gibson. The Grower's Guide To Successful Produce Marketing. It is a very informative book and has really got my interest. Here's some of the chapters listed. GETTING STARTED. DIRECT MARKETING. MARKETING TO RETAIL OUTLETS. SPECIALTY FOOD PRODUCTS. MARKETING SKILLS. WHOLESALE MARKETING. BUSINESS MATTERS. PROMOTIONS. HARVESTIME.

If you don't have this book yet I would advise you to get it.
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Old 08/16/05, 11:13 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Canada
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Originally Posted by Terri

For you folks that DO make a good income from the Farmers MArket, can you tell me how long it took you to work up to a usefull income? Did you start out making enough to cover a summers employement, or did you have to work up to it?
The one's making a living, or partial living, from selling at farmer's markets have to work up to it one way or the other. Anything like that is an investment in time and some money.

The first fall I started a garden maily to clear it and enrich it for next seasons growth. The basement and greenhouse then was for seed starting which gave transplants to sell in May/June at the farmer's market. Garden growing produce after that, and into fall selling pumpkins, and fall harvest vegetables can be very good as people get out they know the market hours to expect something to be there.

If I were to do more market gardening, the general idea is the more time you have to put into it, the larger sized garden you would put in. If you had crafts to offer, then there are craft shows throughout the fall season and gets better selling towards christmas. Doldrums from post holiday season to spring allows you to 'build up' inventory and when about February hits, you'l all hell bent on starting those seedlings. If you had poultry, then egg sales might be part of a year round offering. So, with effort, one could make 'year round' ventures through market garden/craft sales. Take into account the expenses for the amount you get out of it. That's the main thing to account for whether it's worth your while or not.
The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.
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Old 08/16/05, 02:37 PM
r.h. in okla.
Posts: n/a
Here's a web site you might enjoy! If you could afford some of the equipment that some of these farmers use I bellieve gardening would be a whole lot more enjoyable.
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Old 08/16/05, 06:00 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: NY
Posts: 3,456
$ at the farmers market

I sold at the farmers market for about 10 years. The best year I had I made about $10,000 . I specialized in onions cucumbers and melons . It takes a lot of hard work. You need to have the perfect conditions and good soil. Irrigation was the flaw in my set up. It was 400 feet from my field to the irrigation well. I have 14 acres of river flat in NYState. My farmers markets were 35 miles away. Cucumbers made me approximately 30$ a bushel sold in quart containers. got 50 cents a pound for onions. melons ranged from 1$ to 2.50 a piece . Good luck.
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Old 08/16/05, 08:16 PM
Nax Nax is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: NW Michigan
Posts: 202
Me and my folks share stalls at some farmers' markets. They mostly grow and sell flowers; I mostly grow and sell vegetables. We do what we need to, but aren't getting rich, and work very hard.

It takes a few years to grow into it. You also would need a lot of help in terms of labor to get to the amount you're talking about. You can grow out the yazoo, but it takes a lot of time to pick and process, and there are only so many hours in a day.

Our flowers sell very well and are a higher return for our labor.

Also, keep in mind that the volume of traffic determines the money you make. You can have an orchard of peaches picked, but if the market only draws 100 shoppers, it doesn't help you (unless it's a wholesale market and the 100 are dealers).

To clear 25 a year, you'd have to have some pretty high volume markets nearby. Do you have a market with a major population center? Or do you have a big enough family that can handle multiple markets in a week, including the picking and processing?
The truth is rarely pure, and never simple. Oscar Wilde
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Old 08/16/05, 08:47 PM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Ontario
Posts: 13,055
Certainly our veggie growers will make that with their on fam sales. That and more! Our top seller is a veggie grower and he grosses about 15k over 20 weeks at our market. One day a week for 4 hours. I know that simply because we have anonomous earners returns every week and its obvious who is grossing the really big sales. Now he understands that the managment knows his sales but he also knows his identity is safe with us! Cut flowers are not going to make big bucks at our market but in the right one they might. I would have said food sales top all in any farmers markets but here I read of one that they don't!
Keep an open mind; but, double the guard for who you let in.
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Old 08/16/05, 10:04 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 416
Friend of mine used to do that--she dh and dd. She had mountains of freshly baked breads, cookies, etc. (that meant working most of the night), and they had the orchard and the big garden and eggs. They did 3-4 markets a week. That was before a separate kitchen was needed for cooking to sell, and eggs needed to be inspected, and grower's insurance was needed in case someone got e-coli from not washing the produce or findiing a worm in the corn and being shocked. Once all the regulations and limitations were established, they decided to retire from farmer's markets. Be sure you talk to the people in your own area to find out what the regs are.
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Old 08/16/05, 10:37 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Midwest
Posts: 192
this is a great post topic! i have been doing some research on this idea for quite some time and it seems that this like many other businesses really depends on traffic flow and the area..we have a local farmers market that has maybe 10 vendors and the cut flowers go ok but the potted ones do fantastic,,some veggies go but the main eraner is a guy that makes apple butter, banana breads, pies etc. he does more home made type foods instead of produce...
it seems that as long as you have different items that others are carrying then youll do better especially in a smaller market..
i am hoping to make cheeses and sauces, maybe salsa etc..i think the farm fresh ingredients and the uniqueness of the products will make them good sellers..i also hope to do fresh produce..but im hoping the "canned" and " bottled" items will sell more continuous throughout the year and wont be so season dependent..maybe thats something to long in your area are the markets open? around here they are open about 9 months but where we are moving they are open year round...
sorry for rattling ..hope this helps
Not all who wander are lost.......

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Old 08/16/05, 11:54 PM
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 960

We sold lots of vegies last year and it just about paid our gas to get there. Nothing near what the supplies and water cost. What is your secret to making $20,000?
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