Running A Farm Stand
You may be thinking that running a farm stand is all work and no play (or in this case, joy) but you are quite wrong. Although it does require a bit of work, if you are green thumb like I am then it is still a lot of fun. There is a great sense of satisfaction in growing vegetables and fruits with one's own hands and then selling it to benefit both yourself and the person who buys them. I get joy just knowing that I am growing and selling a quality food source that people enjoy. Not only that, it is also incredibly healthy! Besides all the satisfaction you get in the area of producing quality crops and being able to help your community be healthier, you should also consider the ways it benefits you. Such as, being in the fresh air increases your endorphins or your "feel good" and all that Vitamin D from the sun is great for your body as well. Just be careful not to get too much sun as we all know that too much is not good for your skin. Then there is always all the produce that isn't good enough for marketing but perfect to use for canning. My cabinets have been filled every year with wholesome, nutritious food that I have canned using seconds or "the second best" of the produce.
Now look at all those baskets filled to the brim with yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and so much more! Your crops are in and you are ready to start your stand and begin cashing in on all your hard work. Now whether you have a quaint, little building or a wagon that you sell your crops on doesn't really matter. It is the product and appearance of what you do have that counts. So decorate, paint, and fix up whatever you sell from so that you can catch people's eyes. Make a sign with your farm stand's name or the name of your farm. Use nice clean baskets to showcase your produce. Make it easily accessible to your customer's view and reach. Then be prepared for your customer's with extra cash for change they may need or with an honor system box screwed to your table or wagon for paying for their items.
Once your crops are picked only choose the best looking vegetables or fruit to sell. Set aside the rest as seconds that customer's can buy cheaper for canning and such. You should always wipe your produce off before placing them for sale. Use a damp cloth or rinse them off under running water to get rid of any dirt, rotted blossom pieces or debris of any kind. For fruits like berries only use un-ripe to just ripe berries to sell as very ripe berries will go bad very quickly. Strawberries or other berries, including raspberries and blueberries, will ripen very quickly once picked if just a little un-ripe. Make sure to check your produce that is out for sale at least once a day for vegetables or fruit that are no longer marketable. Also, re-stock your supply as needed to make sure you have plenty of produce for all your customer's needs. The produce needs to have visible signs with prices for every single item you have for sale to prevent customer confusion. This will go a long way in your business. Now go and have fun with your new venture and remember to smile when your customer's see you!
Markets and Marketing Your Produce
If you find out after your stand is full and you still have so many crops that are going to waste, there are other avenues for selling your produce and making some more cash. Try going to local organic (if you grow organically) stores or health food stores, restaurant's that buy local produce to cook with, as well as looking up wholesaler's in your area. Many places will buy small quantities of produce if you pick them the size they want. Such as, cucumbers that are between 3-5 inches long and do not have any yellowing. Green beans that are slender and young and are very dark green. Some places will say that the darker the bean is tells them how many vitamins a bean has in it, and others like the lighter beans as they are more tender. You really have to find out what each place likes and make an effort to provide what they are looking for, if you really want to try this route. Making the most of your crops is necessary with this avenue as well. Making sure they are clean with no blemishes or bruises will help you sell them. Don't sell vegetables or fruits that don't look at the peak of freshness as buyers will begin to notice who has the best produce and if you don't have the best you won't be selling as much to them. You can also pack up your car or truck and head to a public area (make sure you have permission from the land owners before you sell from their land) and set out all your crops and market your own things from there. Picking a spot that is in a busy area is a great way to make some sales. Make sure your signs can be seen clearly from the road but don't block driver's views with them! Bring decorative table cloths to set on your table. Baskets for the produce to sit in and bags to put the produce in when someone buys from you also will help alot. Greet all of your potential customer's with a smile and ask if they need help with anything. Be friendly and sociable. Good luck with your market and marketing!