Future Market Growers

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by HilltopDaisy, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. HilltopDaisy

    HilltopDaisy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'd like to hear from folks who are in the planning stages of growing for a farmers market or direct sales to restaurants or stores.

    What are you doing to prepare? Do you have a business plan? Anyone going to attempt to do this alone, and work a full-time job, too?

    I'm hoping to be able to produce enough in '06 to have a weekly table at a smaller market about 25 minutes from here. I'm attending an organizational meeting March 12, just as a fact-gathering, educational experience, and as an attempt to pump me up for next spring. My garden will need to be much bigger than it is right now, but that won't be difficult. I'm starting to think I'm nuts for attempting this. Anyone else in the same boat? Maybe we can support each other.
     
  2. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

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    Yup, starting this year. I KNOW I'm nuts for doing this, but somethin in me just says do it! I also am raising some livestock, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and pigs, as well as selling eggs, among other things...I have a few other ideas to make up a yearly income, and hope it will allow me to say goodbye forever to a 'regular' job where someone else profits form my hard work! PM me if you wanna banter back and forth. :p
     

  3. marisal

    marisal Well-Known Member

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    I am in the planning stages right now. I will be setting up as many raised beds as I can this spring, as well as getting chickens and pigs for fertilizer, and tillers.
    I want to start a CSA and sell at Farmers markets. Anyone I talk to about it around me has no idea what a CSA is, so I think I will start the farmers market first, and get some litterature out about a CSA. I am hoping to start Farmers markets next spring. There are a lot around me, I just hope they will be accepting new vendors.

    I am a stay at home mom, my husband is a engineer at Kodak. But I want to get to the point where I can pay my way for everything I want, Greenhouses, more animals, etc. Right now it's pretty tight, but my husband is pretty supportive of what I want to do, but I dont think he thinks to much of it.

    Its kind of funny, because the few people I tell what my plans are, mostly the men, they give me that look....that "whatever little girl" look....like I am crazy, and I wont make a dime. The tax assessor I wanted to slap, I went and asked about farm exemption, and he almost laughed at me.

    Aww Well, I'll have to prove them all wrong, and make sure I give them a sample of my fresh grown organic produce..and then if they want more, charge 'em full price! :haha:

    Sorry for the ramble...I cant wait till this 2 feet of snow melts so I can get started!!

    ~Marisa :)
     
  4. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

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    Think about this for a second. You want to work in the dirt where you will get hot and sweaty, bug bitten and filthy. And you think this might be a good idea. And now you think maybe your nuts. :haha: You're not alone! Lots of us are nuts. I'm in my third year as a market gardener. I started out selling extra vegetables on the edge of the road several five or six years ago. I went from night owl to morning person. Being in the garden at sunrise is awesome. There's something very satisfying about putting a seed in the ground and eventually harvesting healthy food from it. I love what I do and I get paid to do it. Life is good.

    I do have a business plan that has changed as the business has changed in the last 11 years. My 11 year old daughter is my biggest help. She's grown up doing this so it's second nature to her. I do have people come in to help now and then but usually between the three members of my family who live here we get it all done.

    Good luck!
     
  5. momofmany

    momofmany Dayenu farms

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    colo-Dado! As my enthusiatic 4 yo calls it.
    I could have typed these words myself!
    My husband doesn't make much extra, so he sees the chicken I bought and the seeds and grow light as an expense we just cannot do. He isn't loking a few months down the line when we will have fresh veggies chickens and eggs.

    I am thankful the Lord has at least given me a supportive husband even if it isn't his thing.

    I also hope to have enough to sell the extra. Our marketing plan is that the kids are helping me, and they will have a big part in learning to have a buisness. So they will be very prominant in the advertising and marketing.

    Just got to think of a catchy name, now.
     
  6. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

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    You know except for the stay at home mom and husband part, your plans and experiences thus far have mirrored mine, exactly! OH and the snow I have about four feet to wait for :rolleyes: But there is a solution for this! Spread wood ash, sand or peat moss on top of the snow to make it melt faster. :p
     
  7. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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    yeah were planning on doing some market gardening this year, our big thing is to just see what we can get, we already have an acre for our garden , im growing many traditional veggies , as well as some novelty types to attract attention to the stand, black tomatoes, tigger melons , purple carrots... etc
    thankfully my hubby is very supportive, in fact if anything he is pushing it harder than i am ,
    were in arkansas, so thought we had a freak snow here yesterday , it was 55 today , im still going through catalogs, but my toms and pepper seedlings will be ready to transplant the end of the month
    we are also joining the certified naturally grown. org site, since we havent had our land for 3 years, we cant get gov. organic status , and its too expensive for the little bit we plan on making from the veggies, most people i know that do market gardening make about 200-300 week.
     
  8. melinda

    melinda Well-Known Member

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    I can tell you from my limited experience that farmers markets ARE DESPERATE for growers! If I were a market manager in your area, I'd be beggin you to set up a table whenever you had anything at all!! And farmers markets are making a big comeback all over the country where there were none before. I've been to more than one market that had only 1 or 2 growers, and everything else was crafts. those are fun too, but they don't taste as good in a salad.

    So - you go for it, ok? We all need you!
     
  9. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    Melinda, what do you grow for market? Which ones do you attend?
     
  10. Sioux Nation

    Sioux Nation Active Member

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    I think this year I will start out on a medium scale, enough for my family (includes canning) and start the business end of a farmers market. I still have no idea. I did check out a book (if I remember the title correctly) "Sell What You Grow" out of the library yesterday. Sitting down to read it right now is another story.

    I work at home, I tend children, teach and cook meals, run errands and 1/2 the time with my head cut off. So, yes I guess you would say that I work full-time.

    Since I let the kids read during the summer and do everyday math skills, we have more time.
     
  11. melinda

    melinda Well-Known Member

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    I'm not a grower - I'm a crafter! But I also volunteered for the market, helped set up the web page, start an e-newsletter (which I still write) for Houston Farmers Market. Now that I live in AZ I sell at Bisbee Farmers Market, and me being the type of person I am, I also started to get involved in that one as well, and was friends with the manager. In Houston, after we started HFM, 3 more groups came forward and started more markets around town, and our group opened a second day a week. In all cases - all 4 in Houston, and the one in Bisbee, it was hard to get a lot of growers, and easy to get a lot of other vendors! We really welcomed garden growers, small farms, all that!

    I also sold at the downtown Tucson Farmers Market a couple of times, but I think their location makes it difficult for people to get there and park. Plus it's too far for me to drive - but a vendor told me this week the market was very busy! It's less than half growers, mostly crafts at least when i was there.

    I did a lot of research on farmers markets - look at Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans, they have a TON of good stuff on their website about starting & managing them - and I dealt with the Houston City council and city health department on prepared food issues.

    I don't pretend to know what it's like to be a grower for the market - but I can almost guarantee that whatever you have to sell will be welcomed with open arms! I really think there is a resurgence of interest in sustainably grown food, and that giving the opportunity for small growers and a welcoming public to meet to exchange good food for cash is a GOOD THING for everyone!

    Just so you'll know, Houston Farmers Market started out with a handful of vendors in a parking lot BEHIND a coffee shop/bar, and still managed to draw several hundred people weekly. These were people who LINED UP to buy from all the vendors! It was truly amazing. All the Houston markets were efforts of private individuals or groups, not the city. Of course, there are several million people in the Houston area - but each market was more neighborhood oriented. Bisbee is much smaller, and still draws hundreds of folks wanting good food.

    sorry to ramble, hope that helps?!
     
  12. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    i'm starting this year, the same way i start anything else new. slowly and step by step. if the first step works, i go on to the second step. this year i'm putting in two more raised beds, planting them with perennials for cutting, then taking them around to see what kind of a response i get. if all goes well this year, next year i will make it a little bigger, build a small greenhouse, look into the business license end of it. i will still be working full time, but i am doing this with a long time friend who has years of greenhouse experience. we are currently reading all we can, asking tons of questions, and making a plan to make a business plan. as above, if all goes well, next year we will have a business plan in place. guess i'm a bit more cautious than most, but i think the number one cause of failure is trying to do too much all at once. i make a 5 year plan, then slow myself way, way down in the application of it.:)
     
  13. randy in central missouri

    randy in central missouri Well-Known Member

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    I've been in the planning stages of this for a few years. I have planted thornless blackberries, strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, raspberries, grapes. I have tried to do this so the people will have more of a reason to stop. I am going to grow tomatoes, corn, broc, onions, squash, peppers and several kinds of cut flowers. This year i'm adding for next year, a green house. My idea is not try to sell the standard plants. I am going to start tomatoes and strawberries indoors and try to get them ripe in june and get a better price. in the space between the tomatoes i'm going to start flowers for hanging baskets. I live right behind a little country store that is real busy, i don't think i'll have a problem selling my stuff. i don't mean to brag, but i got a heck of a deal on a green house. i must be living right.

    randy
     
  14. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    Melinda, please email me at hsnrs@localnet.com. Would like to talk to you about Bisbee.
     
  15. pinemead

    pinemead Well-Known Member

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    I grew for market last year for the first time and will continue to do it as long as possible. It's a great experience and a lot of fun. I work a full time job with a 3 hr a day commute, a part time job with a 40 minute commute (7 days a week off the farm), but it can be done. Lots of late nights and very early mornings, but growing and marketing is what I want to do. I'll have more variety this year since I've got a greenhouse now. I didn't make a profit last year because of the expense of equipment and greenhouse supplies, but the income helped with cash flow. This year should be different. My neighbor does the market on a much larger scale and made close to $10,000 last year. She sells veggies, starter plants, eggs and flowers in season, and then sells fresh wreaths for Christmas. Best of luck - it's addictive.
     
  16. HilltopDaisy

    HilltopDaisy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oh My Gosh, Pinemead, you are awesome!! Would you mind giving us a few details of what you grew and how it sold? How far away was the market? Do you have any help? I can't even imagine how you accomplish so much! Do you ever sleep? When did you find time to pick your crops?

    My biggest concern is that I don't get home from work until 12:30 at night. I would have to be at the market early Sat. morning, and then at the "real" job at 3 in the afternoon. I need my sleep. Thanks for any insight you can give us beginners!
     
  17. DAVEOO8

    DAVEOO8 Member

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    I love growing & selling veggies, Started 3 yrs ago ,just to see if i could & it went well.I sell mainly corn & beans & tomatoes, some mellons too. Sell my corn from a truck parked at a busy intersection, ,sell my beans mosty to the few roadside stands that r near here, & sell a lot to just ppl. But it is a full time job to keep up with it . No way i could work a full time job & do it. But this summer im not selling just growing enough to eat
    & can. As much as i enjoy doing this, i need to work full time this yr to help pay some bills. So maybe next summer i can get back into it. Its a lot of hard work but its worth it when ppl tell u how much they enjoy your home grown veggies...
     
  18. HilltopDaisy

    HilltopDaisy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Melinda, I think you're right!! I received a letter in the mail from the ladies who run the market, and all I can say is "Wow! What a welcome!"

    I think the thing that causes me the most concern is the fear that I won't be able to commit to showing up every single Saturday. I work until midnight every Friday night, and sometimes am mandated to work a second shift. And I work every other Sat., 3pm-midnight shift. My attendance could be hit and miss. (I've been playing with the idea of trying it this year, if I get a good vibe from the meeting Saturday). Lots to think about. Hope you all who are starting this year will keep the rest of us posted on how successful you are.

    If I do decide to attempt it this year, I thought I'd grow yellow, green and purple snap beans, lots of lettuces, red, gold and chioggia beets, lots of different squash and tomatoes, cukes, couple kinds of eggplant, sugar peas, assorted greens, and basil. Guess I just have to see what this meeting is like. I don't own any kind of scale--how do you afford a good scale when you are just starting out? Seems like there could be lots of start-up costs. Thanks to you all who posted with advice and shared your experiences!
     
  19. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

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    I've not seen any growers at our market with scales, they usually just sell by the pint, quart or gallon on alot of things. They have things in baskets, and each basket has a price.

    BTW, I have a dumb question, what exactly does "open air" mean in regards to a farmer's market?
     
  20. melinda

    melinda Well-Known Member

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    Hilltop Daisy - the market is there for 2 reasons only : for growers to have a place to sell, and for the community to have a place to buy. That's really one reason, said 2 ways. In other words - you are the reason it's there. Not being able to commit to being there every week shouldn't affect their accepting you unless you are in an area that is besieged with growers begging to be let in - let me know if anyone is in any such a place!

    During my research, I read the market rules for a lot of markets all over the country - in some places you get more benefits the more you show up, like having a reserved spot, or getting first pick of spots. If you have good produce, the market wants you. The more good produce variety the market offers, the more people come back and support the market. The more people come back, the more successful the market is. The more successful the market it, the more other kinds of support (as in grants) it can get. Do you see where I'm going with that?

    Remind yourself, growers, YOU are the reason it works!

    "open air" means outdoors - some might be inside big warehouse type buildings, or gymnasium-type buildings.