All Things Gardening forum: Market Garden Venture

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Name: Cheryl
Eastern Ky
Truth should be everpresent.
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CajuninKy
Mar 5, 2016 9:04 AM CST
I have a small garden and grow in raised beds. Our local farmers market is young and I am venturing into it as a vendor this season. I will be concentrating my efforts on specialty veggies that are not typically sold at the market, ie long beans, scallop squash, white cucumbers, ect. Nothing too exotic, just trying to fill a niche and get a bit of attention. People in our area are not known to be very adventurous is their eating habits so I was hoping some of you experienced vendors might have a few tips for me. I will be giving away recipe cards with purchases. I appreciate your help with this. I want to be successful.
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[Last edited by CajuninKy - Mar 5, 2016 9:05 AM (+)]
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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
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Bonehead
Mar 5, 2016 10:15 AM CST
You might try miniature lettuce - one head is a serving. Easy to grow and cute as a button. Rainbow chard and Easter egg radishes are both good for pops of color. Great marketing idea on the recipe cards, inexpensive and keeps your name in front of them. Good luck in your venture!
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
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Horntoad
Mar 5, 2016 11:52 AM CST
I see a lot of interesting fruits and vegetables at the farmers market, but never buy because I have no idea what it is or what to do with it. You're idea of recipe cards is a great idea. You might also include a little information about each item either as a handout or a sign at you table. Basic info like name, origin, nutrition, how it can be used, such as eaten raw, in salads, soups, etc.
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Mar 5, 2016 12:50 PM CST
I agree Having your name on the recipe cards is a good thing.

Tried to remember what attracted me to one table rather than another at our local farmers' market.
Several things stand out.
-- The vendor wearing an apron and a smile usually gets my vote. Thumbs up
-- Not having tons of produce piled on the table; better to have a 'select' assortment with just a few of each. Folks are less likely to starting pinching/squeezing/touching it the produce is displayed in an artist manner.
-- Buying from 'the little guy' appeals to me. Having a display board with photos of your garden plot is a plus and another good opportunity to display your name.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
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Frillylily
Mar 5, 2016 1:02 PM CST
I think balloons stand out and attract little kids who then will drag their mothers over and buy stuff! nodding
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Mar 5, 2016 1:34 PM CST
@abhege care to chime in?
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Mar 5, 2016 8:10 PM CST
Sorry, very busy day here.

We have been doing market gardening here in GA for about six years now. The biggest thing is to know your customers, but since this will be your first year, it may serve you well to talk to some of the vendors who have been there for awhile and ask them what kinds of things the customers seem to like. Growing niche vegetables sounds like a good idea but it just doesn't always work. But, the things you mentioned (long beans, scallop squash, white cucumbers) are not so out of the ordinary that customers wouldn't buy them. I would just include "regular" veggies as well, if for nothing else to attract them to your booth and then they can see some of your more "uncommon" offerings.

The second most important thing is exactly what Greene mentioned, but not necessarily the apron, but the SMILE IS A MUST. And greet them, even if they are passing your booth up. Talk to people. Talk to the vendors. Have fun.

I don't necessarily agree with not having a ton of produce on the table. It can work both ways but most people are drawn to full tables and organizing things is a big plus. I have had many customers tell me that our booth is always the prettiest. Maybe it's because we sell cut flowers too? So, if your offerings are slim, use a smaller table but display things nicely.

The recipe cards are a must if your customers are not typically buying your type of produce. That will make them feel more comfortable purchasing them, knowing how to prepare them. Samples are ALWAYS a huge hit and will help sell a product that would not normally sell. Take white cucumbers for example. Unless people have had them before, they will opt for the same old regular cucumber, but if you slice a couple and give samples while telling them how they don't have to peel them and they will never be bitter, nine times out of ten you will make a sale. And that sale will bring them back, over and over again. Especially if no one else has them.

I find it important to have pricing cards. A lot of people are not comfortable asking prices and will pass you buy. If they can see your prices, they may pass by to check out the other vendors and then come back to you. Also, I highly recommend using a credit card processing service. We use Square. It won't cost you anything to sign up and get the card reader and the transaction fee is minimal. Most people are not carrying cash anymore, even to markets where cash is traditional. If you can take a credit card they will buy from you and often they will buy more than if they had cash. I resisted doing it for a few years but I am so happy we use it now.

If you want to tree mail me with specific questions, I'd be glad to answer any questions and give you suggestions. Remember to have fun!
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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Mar 5, 2016 8:17 PM CST
Arlene, what beautiful presentations! I agree that some cut flowers are a great draw - who can pass by a riot of colors without at least turning their head?
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Mar 5, 2016 8:25 PM CST
Thank you :tiphat:

And if they don't buy this week, they'll remember next week when they are going to someone's house for dinner and want to bring a hostess gift! Sometimes, at the end of the day I will randomly give away flowers.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Mar 5, 2016 9:04 PM CST
I ditto the credit card, I use it alot anymore and even just buying a few things adds up to cash I may not have on me. Also I think people are tempted to buy more using credit vs cash. The other thing is, I agree on the prices, if they are not clearly marked, I just move on, I have better things to do with my time than trying to figure out how much everything is.
central Arkansas - zone 8a/7b (Zone 7b)
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Myles
Mar 8, 2016 2:53 PM CST
The following link is from a thread on GardenWeb that has a lot of helpful information and suggestions/tips for ways to set up and sell at market:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/2024416/gotta-do-som...

Good luck with your new adventure. Hurray!

Myles

Name: KadieD
Oceania, Mariana Islands (Zone 11b)
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Rainbow
Mar 8, 2016 3:50 PM CST
CajuninKy said:I have a small garden and grow in raised beds. Our local farmers market is young and I am venturing into it as a vendor this season. I will be concentrating my efforts on specialty veggies that are not typically sold at the market, ie long beans, scallop squash, white cucumbers, ect. Nothing too exotic, just trying to fill a niche and get a bit of attention. People in our area are not known to be very adventurous is their eating habits so I was hoping some of you experienced vendors might have a few tips for me. I will be giving away recipe cards with purchases. I appreciate your help with this. I want to be successful.


Terrific idea of specializing on a few vegetables, and great idea on handing out recipe cards. Thumbs up

I have been vending my adenium plants at our local weekend flea market for only about 3 months, and found a method that works very well for me. Granted these are live plants, but marketing of anything carries the same application of concepts: well displayed items, courteous demeanor from vendor, and so forth.

On the aspect of being a potential customer as I sometimes am, I get uncomfortable when the vendor greets me and seems like a hungry raptor ready to pounce. As a vendor, I have realized that instead of watching people go by (after awhile this gets boring), and focusing my attention on "maybe" potential customers, that I could be doing something constructive.

And so...I also bring those adeniums that need to be lifted and feeder roots spruced up. I have my bonsai tools on the table where I am working on my adenium plant. This attracts and becomes a learning experience for the customer, and most times result in sales.

Hope this helps. Smiling
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Mar 8, 2016 6:45 PM CST
Bok Choy looks exotic, but can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, boiled, fried or stir-fried.
I say that Bok Choy stems are a LITTLE like celery, except that they taste good (and are sweet).

Baby Bok Choy are cute, but the big ones go farther.
Slices from the stems of big Bok Choy are sweet and crunchy enough to give away as appetizers.
Napa cabbage "is like cabbage, only tender and sweet".
Michihli looks like romaine lettuce, and can be used in salad, especially when young.


Napa cabbage - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - baby green-stem bok choy
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big Bok Choy
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Michihli
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If locals will eat mustard greens, there are many Asian Brassica variations on that theme.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
Seed Starter Cut Flowers Composter Keeper of Poultry Keeps Goats Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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abhege
Mar 8, 2016 9:27 PM CST
Bok Choy does not sell at our market, and it is a very "health conscience" customer base. I have been successful in selling Tatsoi. Go figure.

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 9, 2016 4:16 PM CST
Hunnh! Maybe Bok Choy just looks too alien.

Dave said that some people around him have come to like Tatsoi. It is cold-hardy and salad-ready, but Bok Choy just has much more "stuff" to it. It's not all leaves.

Well, "Matters of taste are not subject to dispute".

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