Ugh! What a horrid post I wrote... I have been discouraged ever since last nights Farmer's market: For 12 hours of labor yesterday I collected $1 at the market. By the time I paid the market fee, and for the ice to keep things fresh, and the gasoline to drive to market, I was $20 in the hole. And that doesn't count the investment in seed, and planting, and weeding, and seed-bed preparation, etc.... Morose.
At least I enjoyed visiting my friends and family after market to give them really nice food.
First of all, Joseph, my sympathies but also a thank you for causing me to start thinking about the problem. While our market efforts don't have the same motivation as yours - paying the bills, we're still faced with the same problem:
Me: So how was the market today? Joyce: Terrible, I cleared $x. Me: Wonderful. We're out of pocket.
Since hours, dollars, and physical energy are limited, how does one leverage one's efforts? How does one generate an additional income stream from what one is already doing, a by-product?
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly - Dalai Lama
hey joseph, i send my condolences to you also for your difficult market day. i can totally identify. we were in that position many times in the past.
mike, in order to do better, we just kept up thinking of more things to sell. corn stalks during Halloween time, peppers drying on strings...all different stages for more colors, little baskets for different weights of the produce...catchy...many people didn't want the baskets but just the produce, and that was helpful cause they paid the same price...cut flowers, some in bouquets, others in buckets for customers to choose themselves, herbs in bouquets and singles, etc... there's always something more...
It is not much, but I always have something special and unusual behind the counter and only available for those who ask for it, it makes customers feel special that they have insider knowledge, this month it is oca, next month it will be rat-tailed radish. It just keeps some customers coming back just to see what is new.
I have thought of trying a 'pick your own' stand where customers pay to fill a basket and can put what they like in it, so rather than having to buy a kilo bag of potatoes, they can just pop in one or two, and a bit of this and a bit of that. I sell quite a few things in pre-prepared bags and that can be a bit much for those on their own.
I put a big vase of sorghum stalks out the front of my stall a few months ago for bird seed and that went well and attracted people over. People just paid per stalk.
This big squash at the Eugene Farmer's Market got a lot of attention, but no one (except me) was actually interested in buying it. In a way that's good because it stayed around for quite awhile to draw customers.
Last Edit: Jul 14, 2012 16:03:42 GMT -5 by castanea
At least all was not lost and you made the best of a bad situation by spending time and giving people your great food. You may have especially blessed one of them with your smile, encouragement and food in their time of need. And this is what community is about, helping others in their time of need. I have thought many times that your community is one of the best prepared in the US for hard times. Your forefathers spent much time and effort to be able to maximize the food production of your lands.
But back to the farmers market. This must have been one of the first markets of the year. Why do you think people were not buying your produce last night? Have food prices went up so drastically in the grocery stores this year that they do not have additional food money for fresh produce? What was different last night at the farmer's market?
Hopefully, your seed business will continue to grow where so much does not depend on the farmer's market.
My people have had an apocalyptic mindset for as long as we have been here. That comes with it's own set of psychological mal-adjustments, but it leads to a preparedness mindset that proves useful for uncertain times like loosing a job unexpectedly, or wildfires, etc. We have adopted some modern conveniences, for example, the screens on the irrigation water are cleaned using electric motors these days, but we could just as easily send a boy out to do the cleaning. The water still flows via gravity the entire length of the irrigation system.
The One-Dollar-Farmer's-Market was held in the closest town to my village: About 8X the population. I attended last year as well. It was a horrid market then as well. The only thing that sold well last year was a truckload of corn. The market is held on the main road through town, across the street from the only grocery store. There is lots and lots of car traffic, but few stop. The economy here is tight. Lots of bank owned homes sitting vacant. Few jobs of any sort for young people. The cost of living increases in social security are not keeping up with increased food and fuel costs for the elderly. 40% of the working families that received weekly baskets from me last year had someone laid off before this year.
In my village, the farmer's market is a social gathering. Friends and family bring their chairs and sit around and gab. My family has been growing and gifting vegetables to the community since before I was born. They are glad to offer us something for them now. The prices we ask are generally lower than grocery store prices, and we offer better quality. Thursday's market was just strangers at a craft fair. The market manager begged me to attend again this year. It's sad to host a farmer's market without a farmer being present so I agreed, but I doubt that I'll go back after next week when I'm the market manager for the night.
I'm liking seeds, because they keep a long time and they can be shipped easily. I'm just starting to harvest my first seed crops: Peas, parsnips, chives.
Post by 12540dumont on Jul 14, 2012 18:50:50 GMT -5
Joseph, we had a market like that too.
Leo and I picked some 200 pounds of tomatoes and went home with 180. And then I was faced with processing all those tomatoes. What a nightmare
Not every market is a good one. Sometimes it's worth the extra drive to go to one where people buy things. I also jump through hoops to get stuff for the market. Stuffed dolls that I sew, my own packets of seed, pickles, jam, flowers, wild herbs, dried flowers, dried herbs, anything I could think of from the farm. Every week Leo would pack up an old hen and we'd sell her from the back of the truck. We practically starved till we switched markets.
Post by Joseph Lofthouse on Jul 14, 2012 19:10:45 GMT -5
I have just started attending a market in the largest town in the county. It is a great market. Lots of walkers-by. Lots of growers. Plenty of salaried professors and upper management types that can afford any price for fresh vegetables. I'm still pricing things for the poor people in my village (and the students in the county seat), so it's nice to go home with empty coolers.
I've never had to take a chicken home from market... I enjoy watching the squabbles that sometimes break out over who gets to buy the chicken.
Markets are a funny thing. The big market in our neck of the woods is Keady Market. The number of people of people who go to it number in the thousands. As a guess - 5,000. The market has probably trippled its historic size. The sign announcing Keady Market is now smack dab in the middle, where at one time it was at one end.
It's got everything going against it. Keady is a flyspeck. It is in the middle of nowhere. Their market is on Tuesday mornings. The closest big city is 140 km away. A small city - owen sound pop 20k is reasonably close.
It's history is interesting. Keady is a small animal/livestock auction that happens weekly. Farmers would come to the auction and sell some vegetables -and so it grew and grew.