Home Business A Farmers’ Market, The Right Place to Sell Your Produce?

A Farmers’ Market, The Right Place to Sell Your Produce?

The general conception is that you will get the answers you need if you ask the right questions. And this was the right question with an easy answer: Just sell produce on Farmers’ Markets! Start small and go from there. But let’s first answer the question in detail so you have all the relevant information to start marketing at a farmers’ market.  

Getting ready to sell at farmers’ markets doesn’t need to be a long process. It can be an easy, short and straightforward process, depending on what product you want to market and the labels you want to attach to your product.  


Surprisingly, 34% of farms producing food, vegetables, livestock, and dairy products are marketing at least part of their produce through farmers’ markets, so you are “not alone!”. Diversifying your marketing efforts through farmers’ markets will increase your cash flow while you create another sustainable leg in your Agribusiness. 


But remember, it is not all about big farms and ranches. Homesteaders and people with or without a garden can also produce food to sell at a farmers’ market, and you will love it. Adding value to existing food can ensure a product that’s maybe in high demand at a farmers’ market. The important thing is that everybody can get involved selling at farmers’ markets. 


Even kids and young adults can become part of the farmers’ market drive. The Texas Farm Bureau has an outreach program towards young adults who have an interest in small-scale farming and by getting kids interested they can further their education through this program. Producing veggies and marketing them through farmers’ markets will give kids an excellent advantage if they want to be part of sustainable small-scale farmers of the future.


Everyone who wants to get their hands dirty and produce fresh veggies for their family can do it while selling the best/excess on a farmers’ market. You don’t even need soil or a big garden. On top of that, there is an abundance of information available, specifically regarding gardening in Texas, even for shaded areas and for gardening in North Texas. Start producing and start selling your produce at your local farmers’ market for profit and increased sustainability!


While fresh produce, like whole vegetables, is straightforward; meat, dairy products, and prepared food might have regulations governing production and marketing. 


Good Reasons to Sell Your Products at Farmers’ Markets


Selling products at a farmers’ market is beneficial to producers that receive reasonable prices for their produce. But, on the other hand, end-users get a quality product straight from the farm. The advantages created by farmers’ markets as a whole are overwhelming. The most recent statistics regarding farmers’ market growth show an 87% increase in farmers’ markets in a decade.  


The beauty of farmers’ markets is that they will get you closer to your market and consumers, you are allowed to determine your prices, and sales are cash in hand. It gives you a testing ground for new products and ideas while sustaining your operations and growing your business. 


According to a study on the impact of farmers’ markets due to the direct connection that farmers’ markets establish between producers and the end-users, improved health and ecological food systems are created.


Doctors and even your mom have told you that it is good to eat fresh “veggies” on a daily basis. By producing fresh “veggies” you can provide for your family and sell the excess fresh vegetables for an additional income. It is a win-win situation, and you become part of the bigger picture by supplying fresh vegetables to eager consumers.


What Do I Need to Know Before Marketing My Product on A Farmers’ Market? 


As a producer, adding your listing on” TEXAS REAL FOOD” will open your business to potential customers, as well as farmers’ markets, and farm-to-table restaurants that may be interested in including your product. Just make sure that your product meets all the state, USDA, and labeling laws before you start selling to ensure that you stay on the right side of the law. 


In general, the laws are straightforwardly complied with, if you are selling plant-based products without many labels. However, labeling a product entails being certified to the label’s standard, as we will discuss below. 


1. Staying Within USDA and the State of Texas Laws 


If you, as a producer, are not familiar with this legislation, you should study it in-depth to understand how you can operate within USDA and State of Texas legislation.   


On the other hand, if your products already adhere to these requirements, you are much closer to becoming a stallholder at a farmers’ market. 


The Texas Department of State Health Services has specific laws concerning farmers’ markets on their website. In addition, some handy educational sections supply food safety education and education on becoming a farmers’ market vendor.  


The” Frequently Asked Questions” page on their website can be of exceptional value should you have any questions. 


2. Labeling Of Food Products Should be According to Law


Terms describing food are subject to misinterpretation, and even definitions may vary; therefore, we will look at some of the terms to ensure that we stay within the parameters of the law. 


farmers’ market is a designated location used to directly sell food from the producer or farmer to the consumer. On the other hand, a certified farmers’ market has met the Texas Department of Agriculture requirements and has applied to be certified. 


Locally grown can be seen as a buyer’s magnet, while in effect, it implies that the product has been produced within 400 km where it is sold or at least within the same state. 


The term organic refers to meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products from animals that were given no hormones and growth stimulants. Organic food is produced without conventional fertilizers and pesticides made with synthetic ingredients, sludge, sewage, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. 


Before a product can be rated as organic, a government inspector must inspect the farm where the product is grown to ensure that the Farmer follows the rules set by the US Department of Agriculture organic standards. This can be a strenuous and costly process to be able to determine yourself as an organic producer.


Products rated as natural have no artificial ingredients or added color and are only minimally processed. 


Meat products can only be labeled as certified if the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Agricultural Marketing Service have evaluated the product for class, grade, and other quality characteristics.   


Certified naturally grown entails that it is certified by a nonprofit organization for small-scale farmers and beekeepers. It is not affiliated with the USDA National Organic program. The CNG growers don’t use GMO seeds, pesticides, or fertilizers, and their products are certified by other farmers instead of government agencies.


An article available on our farming methods page does an excellent job in describing these “Foodie Buzzwords” used in the agricultural food industry even better. 


Before selling your product on the farmers market, your product must meet all the standards set by legislation. Labeling products must only be done if those products adhere to the standards as described in legislation. In addition, adherence to all the other requirements stipulated by the USDA and the State of Texas is of primary importance. 


3. Getting Updated with the Rules and Regulations of the Farmers’ Market 


Texas farmers’ markets in central Texas are organized under the hospice of F2M Texas, a non-profit corporation that is centered around hosting and educating Central Texas producers and consumers in the growing of a sustainable food system. Their rules and regulations will supply you with all the needed information about selling on a farmers’ market in Texas.


Finding the best farmers’ market to satisfy your needs is easy if you don’t already have one in mind. Just look for Farmers’ markets in your area by visiting our directory of farmers markets, enter your Zip code, and click on “Farmers markets.” We provide all the information from contact details, website, and opening hours to help get you started on your farmers’ market journey!   


It’s always a good idea to visit a farmers’ market that you are considering selling at, as it will give you a good sense of whether it is the right fit and call for you.  


4. Register Your Business and Get Permits to Sell at A Farmers’ Market 


Permits issued by the Public Health Authorities are required for different food and items you are selling. Visit your local Public Health Authorities to determine which permits you will need to sell your specific product or product range. 


5. Insurance Needed to Sell at a Farmers’ Market 


With all the advantages of selling at a farmers’ market, there is also a risk involved. Being a vendor exposes you to liability and maybe devastating financial losses. 


Therefore, it is an innovative business practice to have Farmers’ market Liability in place for your business should anything happen, that might attract a claim.  


Content coverage insurance can protect you from loss and damage to your stock, equipment, and tents. 


Business interruption policy will protect you if you cannot operate your business due to an insured event like theft, fire, or flooding.


Now you have a product you can sell at the ideal farmers’ market while staying within the laws and regulations, and you can give the personnel and logistics aspects of your planned operation some thought.  


Personnel and Logistic Needs for Selling on a Farmers’ Market 


Planning these aspects well in advance will save you some troubles in the future to ensure a smooth operation without any “hic-ups”. 


Always work according to a detailed checklist for each item you need to have at your stall. This little bit of extra work will save you a lot of frustration. For example, a day at a farmers’ market without snacks and water for you and your team can be a nightmare, and it’s better to avoid it. 


1. You Need the Right Person for Selling at a Farmers’ market 


Farmers’ markets are different from regular retail outlets. Whoever is operating the farm stall is seen as the farmer, and they must take ownership of the whole process from the start, whether it is planting cabbage, sowing carrots, or selling fish. 


This person must be willing to mingle, although emphasis should be placed on service, with lots of patience to answer all the strange questions they might get. To the public, this is the farmer, and it is essential to keep that idea alive! 


2. Transport of Your Product to the Farmers’ Market 


If you are a single person with one vehicle, you won’t have many options, but even in a big family set-up with a few cars, you will have to ensure that the vehicle you need is available when needed. 


If you have to travel any distance, consider planning time for those actions; otherwise, you will run into time constraints with your operation. And don’t be afraid to ask for help! Running a business or a stall all on your own is hard work, so get your friends and family involved.


Keeping a record of your transport expenses from the start is a good idea. You don’t want to sell your veggies at a farmers’ market at a loss. Work transport costs into your price you ask for the products. It might be difficult to show a profit in the beginning but you must work toward it.


Depending on your product, you might need the following: 


3. Suitable Packaging to Show Off Your Product 


Suitable packaging should be available for transport and for showcasing your product at your stall, and you should have adequate amounts in stock to carry you for a while. Attractive packaging in your booth will show off your products and result in increased sales. 


Selling specific products needs appropriate packing and labels. Give careful attention to the packaging needs of your product. It will be worthwhile to ensure that your product stays within the law and is attractive to customers. 


Display your products in a way that impresses customers, that will drive your sales, and ensure customers during the next event because they will remember you and be back for more!


Packaging your products into kits and bundles convenient for the consumer can make your products attractive and popular. Please remember to choose your best fresh and crispy products for display and don’t be afraid to stack them high; bigger is better!


Remember to buy the packaging material in bulk, if possible, to cut unnecessary costs. 


4. Your Stall: Tables, Equipment, And Display 


Texas farmers’ markets in central Texas are organized under F2M, and they rent out Canopies and most of the equipment you will need to set up your stall. Renting out is done on a first-come, first-serve basis, so it would be better to see if you can organize it beforehand. Otherwise, you must be there early in the morning at the farmers’ market.


For farmers’ markets in other areas, you can get the needed information from our directory for farmers’ markets and contact them to find out whether they rent out the required equipment or not. You don’t want to pitch up there with your load of fresh produce and don’t have all the equipment needed to set up your stall.


If you can’t rent equipment at a farmers’ market then you will have to use your own initiative and get what you need like a canopy or tent, tables for display, etc. Go and visit the farmers market you want to be a vendor at. Look for ideas and use your imagination to see what you will need to make your stall exceptional and comfortable.


5. Approved Production Facilities for Selling at Farmers’ Markets 


If you are planning on providing value-added or prepared food, you may be required to use commercial kitchens, while if you only operate small-scale periodic inspections of your kitchen might take place. Therefore, keep it hygienically clean according to the standards of the USDA ( Food Inspection and Safety Service) that also give you a lot of handy information on their website.


Hygiene should be stepped up, if necessary, in your home kitchen so that inspectors can be satisfied. Things like wearing gloves and hair netting may be required by law when processing food. 


6. Accepting Card Payments at Farmers’ markets in a New Cashless Way of Life 


Accepting card payments will boost your sales, provide a cash flow and ensure a convenient experience for clients. Unfortunately, in the USA, 55% of small businesses don’t accept credit cards. That has a detrimental effect on customers. So instead, make them happy so they enjoy shopping with you where they may pay with a card!


As a small business owner, you can set yourself up to receive card payments using an online merchant gateway like Stripe or PayPal. For example, you can decide whether you want to set up a Point Of Sale system with a merchant account or use a mobile card reader to accept card payments through a smartphone app. Alternatively, you can enquire from your existing bank about how they can assist you. 


Selling your product/s at a farmers’’ market is not only of substantial financial benefit, but it supplies fresh food to people that love it. What’s more, the whole process shortens the distance between the farmer/producer and the consumer, ensuring higher prices for the farmer/producer and fresh, affordable, and healthy food for the consumer. 


It is a win-win situation, and we at   TexasRealFood want you to become part of the local food movement in Texas towards a more sustainable and resilient future!