growing for market

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by steff bugielski, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. steff bugielski

    steff bugielski Well-Known Member

    Nov 10, 2003
    I sell here at my own stand. I sell over 2,000 a yr of veggies. I don't clean them very wee, folks like the idea of right out of the ground. I am lucky, I have NYC 2 hrs away. Those folks will buy anything if it is homegrown and organic. They will also pay very well.
  2. dare2b

    dare2b crone

    Sep 28, 2004

  3. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

    Dec 29, 2002
    I'm a market gardener. I have two acres now and am considering a third this year (if we buy a tractor).

    Customers are asking for corn on opening day when the corn is 2' tall in the garden. There's a big demand for it in my area but it doesn't pay as well as other crops. The usual things always sell well for me - tomatoes, carrots by the bundle, new potatoes, summer and winter squash, slicing and pickling cucumbers, radishes by the bundle, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.

    I add something new each year. Bok Choi and tatsoi were instantly popular. People were willing to try it the first week and rave about it the next. Patty pan squash took two years to really catch on before it was popular. Each area of the country has its own idea of what's new and what's unusual.

    I have a sink set up outside for washing vegetables. I use a soft bristle brush and slow running water to clean root crops. I don't wash greens as a daily practice. If they're dirty I have to but I try to avoid that by not splashing water/dirt up when watering (water low).

    You'll probably want a large container with very cold water to drop some vegetables in for quick cooling. The sooner you remove field heat the better.

    Good luck!
  4. rwood

    rwood Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2005
    NSW Australia
    I grew up (here in Australia) next to a 5 acre market garden and we played over there with their kids alot, sometimes the parents even 'let us' plant things for fun (when your a kid, and you only do it for an hour, everything is fun).

    The thing they did 'let us' do which might help, was wash root crops in a big water tank. They had a large water tank made of bricks 6 x 6 feet (rendered on the inside for water proofing) and covered in black plastic to stop the concrete scratching the veggies.

    They dumped the veggies off the wheelbarrow straight into the tank and left them there for about 30 mins.(while they went and got the next load) Then, when the dirt/clay was soft (most of the dirt had fallen to the bottom of the tank already) they gave us a $1 dust pan brush (soft bristles) and we gave them a quick cursory scrubb before we packed them into boxes for market.

    The tank was about 6x6 feet, so you could reach the middle. Changed the water once a day (or as required) I think. It was about 1 meter high (but I was a kid and it all looks bigger and higher when your a kid). It also had a hose running (gently) into the tank (to keep the water fresh?) that over flowed into their pond.

    Not the greatest idea for the large scale market gardener I would imagine, but only a short extra step between picking from the field and packaging for the small scale. Helps to cool them down too.

  5. apirlawz

    apirlawz playing in the dirt

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern MN
    I garden on 1/2 acre, and all I can say is "succession cropping"!! If you can come to the market in the fall with greens, radishes, peas, etc, while everyone else is selling peppers and squash, you will probably have no problem selling out! You generally want to offer the regional "staples", but try to offer things that nobody else has. You can test new varieties this way, and you will find that when you stumble on something that works, you will quickly develop a loyal base. And it usually takes a season or two before the other growers catch on to your new "gems" :D

    I would suggest finding out what you can about the market itself. Who makes up the customer base? Are there specific ethnic groups that you can market to? Does the manager have a plan for the growth of the market? What kind of advertising do they do? What are your market fees? Do you get a discounted fee for good attendance? Talk to the market manager...can s/he answer the above questions?

    Pay attention to the other growers. Who is successful, who is not, and what are the differences between these types of growers? Pay attention to prices and quality of produce offered by other growers. Get an idea of how your veggies rate compared to the others, and price accordingly. But by all means, do not try to lowball your prices to get more of the market share...not only will you not be profitable, but you will really p!$$ off your fellow growers. Do not devalue your own efforts when considering your work hard to produce what you do, and as a result, you offer a higher quality product! Always remember that if folks want cheap veggies, they go to the supermarket. People shop farmers markets for quality, and are willing to pay more for it.

    And last, I would say that one of the most important things that market growers overlook is marketing. I've seen this so much in growers, and too often in market boardmembers and managers! :no: It's one thing to be the best market grower that you can be, but you have to know how to sell, also. It's not a situation of "if I grow it, they will buy", you have to get the message out there that you have a great product, and that they cannot find the quality that you offer at the local supermarket.

    I would really suggest doing a lot of reasearch into the marketing aspect of market growing. The best book that I've come across so far is "The New Farmers' Market - Farm Fresh Ideas fo Producers, Managers, and Communities" by Vance Corum, Marcie Rosenzweig, and Eric Gibson. It's more of a compilation of different articles and stories from market growers and managers around the country. It's full of marketing ideas from different perspectives, sometimes contradictory, but at least your getting the full spectrum.

    Good luck!!