We love working the farmers’ market on Saturday morning. Although the market is not the most profitable part of our business, it is one of the most fun, as well as having other less tangible benefits. The best part of the market is that we get to chat with so many CSA members, chefs, and customers all in one morning. We wouldn’t miss it!
The market is so much fun, that it is tempting to spend hours and hours packing everything we have on the farm, as well as everything our farming friends have, and haul it to the market. We have done that plenty of times. Sadly, if we do that, there is a high probability we will be bringing quite a bit of it home and feeding it to the chickens. That doesn’t work. We can’t afford to do that. We need to be more strategic.
One of the problems at the market is there are multiple farmers all selling the same thing. Right now in December, that means kale and lettuce. With so many farmers all selling the same thing, the price for the product is often low, and even at a low price, there is more available than there are customers. A big key to success is to figure out new and different crops that the other farmers are not selling. That is much harder than you would think. There are only so many things that grow in our area each season. You have to be pretty brave about trying new varieties and ideas. Then things are further complicated by the fact that the other farmers all watch each other, and if one person has something new and interesting the customers want, you can bet the other farmers will be growing it next year. There are no secrets in this little world of farming. We just accept this fact and constantly strive to improve.
Growing something new and cool isn’t the only option to getting people to your booth. It is also a great idea to have impeccable knowledge about your crops. Many people want to know everything about what they are buying. They want to know how you grew it, what the variety is, and even interesting things about that variety. The market presents a great opportunity to talk to customers about your farm and growing practices. People want this connection with their food and where it comes from. Don’t miss the opportunity to include this piece of discussion. It helps your customers be connected to you and come back next time.
Not only is the market a great opportunity to talk to customers about your farm, customers almost always ask about how to use the produce they are buying, especially if it is something unusual. All too often I hear customers ask other farmers how to use the produce they are buying, and the farmer has no clue. It is important to take the time to cook and eat the produce you are selling. You can’t sell what you don’t know. We try hard to be sure we know multiple ways to prepare anything we sell. Check out the recipe page on our website for tons of simple seasonal recipes. Remember, many people want to eat healthy but are just getting started buying local and actually cooking. If we want people to be successful with good food, we need to be ready to help them.
Learning great ways to cook fresh produce isn’t the only thing people want to talk about at the market. There is a whole group of people who love to talk about nutrition in general, and how it affects them in their life. They are passionate about what they feed their children, how food impacts their health, how it impacts their athletic performance, and even their fight against disease. These are some of my favorite market conversations. I love the mommies who bring their kids and involve them in the shopping decisions. I love the families dealing with cancer and their courage to address nutrition. I love the talks about athletics and the next race people are planning.
The farmers’ market is the best place for meeting people, picking up CSA bags, talking about food and nutrition, and changing the world. It is where the action is. I love being there.
Eat your market veggies,