Anyone growing and selling food locally?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by terri46355, Jun 14, 2006.

  1. terri46355

    terri46355 Well-Known Member

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    I just read an article in the June AARP bulletin that sounds a lot like the folks here. It is about people who retire, take up small scale farming, and sell their products locally.

    How many of you sell your home grown/processed foods to others?

    1. What do you sell?
    2. How did you start?
    3. How do you set a price?
    4. Did you have to get any licenses/permits?
    5. Do you claim your income/expenses with Uncle Sam?
    6. Do you find it profitable to sell your food, or is it better to barter for other people's foods/services?

    Any advice from those who have done it is greatly appreciated!
     
  2. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    1. I sold vegetables melons,potatoes and tomatoes mostly, though it was my first years garden in AR and will be a lot bigger and more diverse next time.

    2. What do you mean?

    3.I price it about the same as what the other vendors charge though if I have lots of tomatoes I undercut them by $1 a quart.They would rather throw them away then come down on the price, I made some folks mad but oh well.

    4.NO just pay $5 and join the farmers market

    6.Did not have any profit as I put all the $ into plowing the first years garden (now it is no till) bought lots of hay and sawdust manure and the like to improove the soil and when I get back I will be getting rock dust for it see www.remineralize.org

    7. Sell unique varieties and grow using hoop houses/cold frames so you can get them to market sooner Read some of those great newer books on market gardening.
     

  3. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    1) We sell eggs, veggies, fruit, homemade soap, photography, hand woven items, and hand forged items.

    2) Planted a garden, got some chickens, and started selling things. It's really not hard.

    3) Prices for the crafts are based on my costs x 3. That's my minimum and what I wholesale for. I try to get that minimum cost x 2. Prices for the produce and eggs are based on what others are charging for their produce, but still are high enough to more than cover my costs. I'd rather take produce that doesn't sell home and dry/can/freeze it for my own use than loose money on it.

    4) Our farmer's market requires you to have a business license. That will vary by state and county. You'll have to research the regulations where you live.

    5) Yes.

    6) Both. You won't make a huge amount of money selling at the farmer's market, but we make the equivalent of $10 an hour when we're there (after accounting for expenses). Barter also works really well. Decide what you want and what it's worth to you and trade away. I haven't met anyone yet who wasn't open to barter.

    Jnap has it right. Push the season. Get your seeds in the ground and use hoop houses and wall-of-waters to protect them from the cold. The first one to market - with any kind of produce - wins a lot of loyalty from the market regulars. Even if all you have out of the garden is green onions.

    Make sure the produce you take is washed and nicely bundled. Make sure you take along a clean shirt to change into once everything's set up. Take along some wet wipes and paper towels so you can keep everything looking tidy.
     
  4. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    Greet all the customers with a smile and actively sell your product. If you have cute children dress em in their best coveralls put a staw hat on and bring em. Not for sale just to help sell
     
  5. HydroDude

    HydroDude Active Member

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    Jen,

    Do you include you time to make your crafts in your cost or is your price just a multiple of your materials cost.

    Where in Washington are you?

    Thanks,
    HD
     
  6. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I do include my time as a cost.

    I'm east of Bellingham, in the foothills.
     
  7. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Jen, sounds like your market is doing well. I'm not impressed with Mt Vernon at this point; we need to pay a stall fee each week, topped with gas it's a bit of overhead I really wish I didn't have.

    1. I did a CSA (people purchased a share in my garden, I delivered to a central point for pick up) the past two years, but not this year. I sell raw wool, handspun yarn, sheep milk soap and other toiletries, and lamb. Eggs when the coyotes and racoons don't eat my hens.

    2. Applied for craft shows and farmer's markets. The markets I've been involved with require business license plus application fee and weekly stall fee. Craft fairs I attend are for the most part juried, so I submit my work in advance for approval, then pay the fee.

    3. Cost times three for wholesale, double that for retail. For lamb I just sell by the pound, whatever the going rate is. Eggs I check for the top local prices and charge that.

    4. Business licences are required in all the events I participate in. To sell from the farm, they are not. Special permits are needed to sell eggs to anyone other than from the farm.

    5. Yes

    6. Both. I always barter when I can, but there are something a few bars of soap just won't buy...like the new horse trailer I'm wanting!
     
  8. iocane

    iocane Active Member

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    1. What do you sell? just about everything, strawberries, marion berries, watermelons, flowers. corn peaches, pumkins, etc etc

    2. How did you start? Family been doing it for generations

    3. How do you set a price? Supply and demand

    4. Did you have to get any licenses/permits? The fruitstand license predates me. The farmer market doesn't need a licence

    5. Do you claim your income/expenses with Uncle Sam? keep tack of it and file taxes

    6. Do you find it profitable to sell your food, or is it better to barter for other people's foods/services?
    yes, but its hard work. Anyone willing to barter? I am all for it. Unfortunately most people want money instead of peaches.
     
  9. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    I love peaches...want some soap? :p
     
  10. HydroDude

    HydroDude Active Member

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    So it is (material cost + labor) X 3 = wholesale price.

    What hourly rate do you use to come up with your personal labor cost? My wife is an artist. I keep telling my wife that she need to put a value on her time.

    Thanks,
    HD
     
  11. ginsengsally

    ginsengsally Well-Known Member

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    Re: Jnap31's post:

    3.I price it about the same as what the other vendors charge though if I have lots of tomatoes I undercut them by $1 a quart.They would rather throw them away then come down on the price, I made some folks mad but oh well.

    Ah, a retired farmer wannabe. You probably have loads of money behind you & now the homesteading/"farming" is just a lark. Way to go on trying to undercut the REAL farmers who need to be paid a fair price for what they produce to pay the bills. You'd never survive in our farmers markets.
     
  12. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

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    1. What do you sell?
    Vegetables, fruits, preserves, breads and other baked goods, soap.

    2. How did you start?

    I grew more in our backyard garden than we could use. I put a small table by the side of the road. That grew to a little farmstand, then farmers market, now back to the farm full time.

    3. How do you set a price?

    I take a lot into consideration. A very small amount of comparison at the grocery store helps. I estimate what I have to charge to make something worth growing. For example, I charge more per pound for green beans than broccoli because beans are more labor intensive than broccoli. Keep your time in mind. Keep your expenses in mind at all times when figuring prices. It costs me more to grow a tomato plant than a corn plant. I need to start tomatoes in the greenhouse (greenhouses expenses - the structure, the heat, fans for ventilation, electricity, growing medium, flats, six packs) but I can direct seed corn. If I can't get the price for something I need I grow it for my family only. The first harvests typically bring a higher price. After three weeks of tomatoes the newness has worn off and the price comes down.

    4. Did you have to get any licenses/permits?

    I need a home food processing license for my kitchen for value added products (jam, jelly, pickles, baked goods). Check your local zoning to be sure you can legally sell from home unless you're going to sell away from the house.

    Scales probably need to be tested and certified yearly if you're going to sell by the pound. The USDA inspector does my scales while he's here doing my kitchen inspection.


    5. Do you claim your income/expenses with Uncle Sam?

    Yes.


    6. Do you find it profitable to sell your food, or is it better to barter for other people's foods/services?

    It's profitable for me. I love to barter too.

    I have three hoops. One is full of greens that we've been harvesting for a month, a tomato bred to do well in hoops (It's called Buffalo), and eggplant. Two is full of tomato plants. Three is full of melons. Two and three will be moved each fall from warm weather crops to cover cold weather crops. One covers almost the length of the garden it's sitting on so it's not going to be moved until I have to replace the poly cover, four years from now. I also have a greenhouse and two cold frames for seedlings.

    Ohhhhhhhh I wish. I'm out of peach jam and pie filling. And I'd love a warm, juicy peach right now. If you were close enough I'd be thrilled to barter for a couple of bushels.
     
  13. johnghagen

    johnghagen Well-Known Member

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    Never undersell your fellow farmer at the market not only is it not right but you will find that people will never pay top dollar,but will wait till you are picking up to go home and want all you have at the cheap price.This problem will allways stick its head up but those that do it dont last very long.We take our left over to the mission for them to use and they are very happy.We have been in this bussiness since 1983 so i feel that my opinon has some foundation.
     
  14. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    So when their are 50 vendors what do you do walk around first and make sure you write down their prices so you dont undercut them?
     
  15. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    We sell pastured broilers and heritage turkeys. We pre-sell the chickens at $2.50 per pound and the heritage birds will probably be $5/lb. this year. All of them are spoken for before they even get to the field, and we can't raise enough to meet the demand. We net about $900 per 100 broilers. If you have 2 acres of good pasture to devote to it, you can easily do 800-1000 birds a year and you can grow some impressive crops on the part you're resting.
     
  16. Thoughthound

    Thoughthound Well-Known Member

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    I think success largely has to do with how friendly you are and how much garden knowledge you are willing to share. Also it helps if you are in an area where people want quality over a bargain.

    You are never going to compete with box stores on price, so you have to offer better quality and the personal touch.

    Regarding undercutting each other at the market: yes you do compare prices with other vendors before selling. If you undercut, then the other vendors are forced to find another venue and the market suffers. If the market suffers, then eventually your sales will suffer as well.

    By markedly undercutting, all you actually accomplish is a poor labor to earnings ratio.
     
  17. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    The market I sell at is pretty small, not many folks live out here but we get alot of tourist traffic. Most of the other vendors are also my neighbors and friends, so we talk. I know who to send people to if they're looking for herbs and salves. I know who has beets in the ground this year (I gave that space over to cucumbers). I know who to send people to for veggie starts. And yes, I have a rough idea what everybody's charging for their goods before market day comes around.

    Farmer's markets are an interesting phenomenon. Everybody is selling there to make money, but you're also working together to make the market a really nifty place for potential customers to hang out and spend time at. The longer you can keep people wandering around chewing on goodies or talking or browsing, the more goods everybody sells.

    Hydrodude, the amount any craftsperson decides to pay themselves really depends on how much expertise is needed for that craft and what the going rate is. With soapmaking, I figure it takes me an hour to line the mold, mix the soap, cut, and wrap it(this does not include time for the soap to saponify and cure). I get 30 soaps out of each mold, so I divide my hourly rate among each soap and add that into the costs. You also have to figure in what people are willing to pay - that changes depending on what area you live in. If I couldn't make at least the wholesale amount, I wouldn't bother making soap (or weaving handtowels) to sell. It sounds cold-hearted, but I'm not willing to lose money on my labor. I can't afford to lose money on what I sell.
     
  18. johnghagen

    johnghagen Well-Known Member

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    Yes we walk around and see other sellers,compare prices and generally visit before the people show up.You see in a farmers market we are all selling but not at the cost of friendship,we compare pest problems we tell people where to get there herbs if we dont have any that week and the other vendors come and send there people over for the homemade bread before it is gone or buy it themselves.We now solve the bread problem buy bringing enough for our fellow vendors,and sell to them first to take home then we have some for our market customers.
     
  19. steff bugielski

    steff bugielski Well-Known Member

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    I sell right off the farm.
    I put up a sign and people started coming. I am on the "Main" road.
    I sell all sorts of veggies- organic.
    Eggs and raw goats milk.
    I price the veggies the same as conventional store bought.
    Eggs $2 doz, milk$6 gal.
    At the end of the year, the veggies eggs and milk pay for all the animal feed and upkeep.
    Next spring will be my first year as a CSA.
    I do include the income in my Tax return.
    In the summer I never have enough of anything.
    steff