[Market-farming] foreign invasion

michaele blakely mjb at premier1.net
Mon May 26 00:26:49 EDT 2003


Here in the Northwest, Asian farmers began selling flowers at or markets 
about ten years ago.  In the beginning there was a lot of 
misunderstanding (due to the language problems) about what was okay to 
do at farmers market.  This was also muddied by the fact that there are 
some markets that do allow wholesale vendors in.  With language 
problems, you can see how the finer details can get lost.

I was a market manager at the time our markets began seeing Asian 
growers and also a flower grower and felt threatened by the influx of 
growers that showed up in mass.  However after investigating and doing 
some education I found that once everyone understood the rules very few 
wanted to ignore them.
These Asian growers are a valued part of our community now, and also 
grow vegetables.  They've also learned how to raise their prices.  And 
as the next generation enters into the farming/market venue the savvy grows.

They cooperate within families in order to survive in our economy.  What 
might look like to you as a formula ie the buckets, the vans the butcher 
paper etc is a safety net to those who are following in the footsteps of 
successfull farmers that have made it work in other markets in other 
parts of the country.  They are trying to survive in an economy that is 
difficult to understand.  But they are quick learners!!!  And good 
farmers, and good people.

These Hmong farmers are the reason I grow vegetables, fruits and meat 
now instead of flowers.  I couldn't compete with the splashy, 
inexpensive bouquets they provided for consumers, so I adapted.  That is 
what capitalism is all about.

Michaele
Growing Things



Liz Pike wrote:

>I spent several hours at a large farmer's market interviewing and taking
>pictures yesterday.  (Getting up at 4 am on Saturdays makes me miss selling
>at farmer's markets, can't wait to get back.)  After perusing 5 markets over
>the past 3 Saturday's I've noticed a trend--at least here.  Asians/Orientals
>selling large bouquets of flowers very cheap.  More cheap than any grower
>can compete with--these bouquets would run about $30 if local farmer-grown
>judging by the number of stems at a low $1/per stem avg.
>
>Supposedly these "grower only" markets, yet these flower-selling set-ups are
>all the same...a van, 3 people, white buckets of flowers, card table, wicker
>laundry baskets used to hold pre-made bouquets wrapped in white butcher
>paper with a $5 or $8 price written in black marker.   They all have a
>single long-stem rose in the center of the bouquet (they must have the most
>fantastic greenhouses to raise those out of season!) .  Some of the larger
>markets had 2-3 of these set-ups per building.  I don't have a problem with
>anyone selling anything that's allowed at a market, but to not be a grower,
>and undercut real growers just angered me.  I tried to talk with a couple of
>sellers, but alas they didn't understand English--or refused to let on that
>they did.
>
>Have other sellers come across this??  It's been about 3 years since the
>last time I did a major convalescing of farmer's markets, and these set-ups
>were not there.
>
>Liz Pike
>Laughingbrook Farm
>Westfield NC
>http://www.marketfarming.com
>http://www.laughingbrookfarm.com
>
>
>
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