[Market-farming] rural markets

road's end farm organic101 at linkny.com
Wed Apr 18 18:31:38 EDT 2007

I don't know what makes one market take off when another one doesn't. 
And both enthusiasm on the part of local municipalities, and assistance 
from other sources, seems to vary wildly. But I'm having trouble 
keeping my mouth shut, so to speak, online today, so will send a few 
pieces of advice, which may or may not actually be any help to you:

1) Get together with your potential vendors and work out bylaws and 
market rules clearly, in advance: such things as, who can sell at the 
market; what can be sold; if everything is to be local, define what you 
mean by "local"; setup and takedown times; cleaning up your space; 
meeting any legal/health requirements (e.g. for canned goods or 
whatever); who makes which decisions, and what the procedure is for 
making decisions; and a clear procedure for amending the rules, dealing 
with a change in market manager and/or other officers, and dealing with 
grievances. Put it in writing.

It's much better to discover beforehand that one vendor assumes it's 
fine to sell old supermarket bananas, another objects to the condition 
of the old bananas but not to bringing in out of state produce, a third 
intends to set up a flea market booth of miscellaneous used stuff, and 
four other people assumed all those things would be forbidden: than to 
find yourselves having that argument in the middle of the first day's 

2) Don't give up too easily. It takes a while to get a good customer 
base up. If too many vendors drop out after a week or two, or even a 
month or two, of slow sales, the market may die off from 
discouragement, even if things were actually about to start improving.

3) Try to discourage people from underpricing, and from bringing poor 

There's a lot of useful info from a magazine called Growing for Market. 
They used to have a free download of a selection of articles meant for 
beginning market growers -- let me see if it's still there --  yes it 
is. Below is the link for their website; scroll down to the free 
download "GFM special issue about selling at farmers' markets" link. 
(No I don't work for them -- just a subscriber who's found a lot of 
useful info there.)


-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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