Grow a profit with farmers markets, start planning now, for a thriving farmers market. Now is an excellent time to order your seeds and plants to take advantage of early bird offers. Many garden seed nurseries are offering free seeds and discounts for orders placed before the end of February. Plus, ordering now increases the likelihood that you will receive your order in full, avoiding back ordered or out of stock items that could delay planting or force you to plant an entirely different cultivar. Ensure a profitable farmers market, by creating a model of where, when and what you will grow. Design a business strategy to grow herbs, vegetables, and fruits with the highest profit, and differentiate your garden market from the competition.
Plan your Growing Space
You probably have a pretty good idea, where you will grow your vegetables. Have you considered ways to utilize your land space more effectively and to plant for natural weed control? Growing vertical crops will save you space and increase productivity. Chicken wire makes an excellent temporary fence for vine vegetables, like cucumbers. Growing cucumbers in this way will allow them to grow straighter, be easier to harvest and weed. Consider planting leafy type vegetables in rows, space two rows closer to each other, with just enough room for them to touch each other when they reach maturity. Then leave space on each side of rows wide enough for a tiller to go through. This will allow the two rows planted close to each other to shade out weeds and you will have less weeding to do. This method of planting will work well for lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and peppers.
Choose Cultivars Carefully
What are the best types of vegetables to grow for your market? It is best to plant varieties that will be the most productive for your growing area, if you are unsure which ones are the best, see your nursery manager; they should be able to make good growing recommendations. Choose to grow cultivars that are in high demand and productivity. Hybrids will produce higher yields and be more disease resistant than heirlooms. Some heirlooms are good farmers market choices, but their productivity level can be much lower, you should not solely rely on them Select to grow vegetable types with the highest profit and productivity potential. Homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers are in high demand and are more profitable than cabbage and peas, cabbage produces just one head and peas, while they may be a good seller, but they are to labor intensive to be profitable.
Keep a Garden Journal
Keep a garden journal to help you keep track of the winners and losers. Growing conditions will often have a bearing on how well a particular variety produces, one variety that does exceptionally well one year, maybe outperformed by another next year with a different set of growing conditions. It is a good idea to keep a garden journal, for future reference noting the productivity levels and growing conditions for particular cultivars. Keeping notes of what does good and what does not will be very helpful for future growing seasons.
Grow your Plants at a Local Green House
If you are growing your own seeds, you may want to consider hiring a local greenhouse to grow them; this will ensure adequate quantity and plant size, ready for you to plant when your growing time is right. A greenhouse provides ideal growing conditions and unless you have your own greenhouse, plants grown in a greenhouse will grow faster and healthier than if you were to plant them by another method. This can work out nicely, particularly if you need to grow a larger quantity of a hard to find cultivar and have a set planting date. Plus, you can also save money, with the rising costs of vegetable plants, having a local greenhouse grow your seeds will often save you money over buying them at retail.
Taking Full Advantage of the Farmers Market Season
Farmers markets usually run from the first of May until end of October, to take full advantage of this market time, stager your plantings to extend the harvest season. Tomatoes can be planted 2 to 3 times, at 3 to 4 weeks intervals, depending on your growing zone. You want to make sure the harvest time is a few weeks ahead of the typical hard frost date in your area, to give you adequate time to harvest them. In early fall, you can protect peppers and tomatoes from early frosts by covering the plants with tarps to extend your harvest. A plastic tarp, similar to what is used to cover boats, can safely protect your peppers and tomatoes, down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the duration of 28-degree temperature.
Stand Apart from the Competition
Farmers markets are becoming popular, with more and more growers participating, competition can be stiff. How do you differentiate your vegetable stand to be successful? Consider positioning your vegetable stand with unique offerings; contemplate selling combinations of vegetables and herbs with a recipe, to make a tasty garden salsa or marinara sauce. Grow and sell flowers, zinnias with the many brilliant colors are an excellent choice, they grow fast, and they hold their beauty for several days. Perhaps, offering a free bouquet for larger purchases or for repeat customers would be an excellent way to increase loyalty. Summer flowers draw attention with their brilliant colors, and buyers will not be able to resist stopping by to see what you have.
How do you Differentiate your Market
Differentiate yourself by treating your operation as a business; create business cards with your name which becomes your brand. Handing out business cards with your brand and contact information is an economical way to create a professional image and grow your clientele. Creating a Facebook page is another excellent way to generate a following of customers, to communicate what, when, and where you will be selling your produce. You can join other gardener groups on Facebook that offer beneficial gardener information from gardeners like yourself and give you the opportunity to increase awareness of your business. Consider having a website to promote your name and brand. A website is a great way to grow your business and is relatively inexpensive. You can have a professional customized website built by Dream Builders Website Design for a nominal fee, https://dreambuilderswebsitedesign.com/ with web hosting plans starting $5.99 per month, and free domain registration. Once you have your website set up, you can grow a customer following through social media groups like Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter. Adding value in these ways will grow your name and brand for a thriving farmer’s market business this year and years to come.