[Market-farming] High value crops.

Beth Spaugh lists at rhomestead.com
Sat Dec 8 18:56:46 EST 2007

My two cents. Yes, it depends on the market and area. I sell at a market
that is in the mountains, cool, short season, only 40 miles away actually,
with a lot of summer home owners from large cities. Not necessarily wealthy
(the homese may have been in the family for many years), but used to higher
prices. Tomatoes are a great crop for me, especially early, but no one up
there grows tomatoes (well, a very few gardeners have a couple very
short-season plants). Most anything sells well there because not many folks
garden. And we get good prices. I started out at $4/lb for all the tomatoes,
and kept the heirlooms there all season but dropped the "round red" tomatoes
to $3/lb. The whole attitude of the market is "we will not be oversold".
Yes, there is some price competition, but the customers spread their money
around among us.
The other (new) market is in a smaller town in the lake valley, with lots of
gardeners. Early tomatoes did well, but not many sold in August. It is also
a town where folks have nice houses and nice cars, but think food should be
cheap. We are working at developing our clientele. We also need to work with
the vendors, since several of them are still in the "oh I can't afford that
myself" mindset and pricing low. I figure we should get at least grocery
store price, and grocery store price for their top quality if mine is top
quality (i.e. $12/lb for salad mix, even though the store also has some
$3/lb mix).
I am trying for $40,000/acre average. Just for arithmetic sake. An acre is a
little over 40,000 square feet, so I call it 40,000 sqaure feet. If my
beds/rows are 4 feet apart, then I want $4/row foot. Brussel sprouts were
two rows/bed, every two feed. One plant every two feet would need to sell at
$8. Two plants every two feet need to sell at $4. I have been selling stalks
at $5 each, so making over $40,000. If I took the time to take the sprouts
off and sold by the pint, it would be higher, and I guess I have time this
time of year, but I am taking it easy and just selling by the stalk. Brussel
sprout caveat - we took the mountain market inside this fall, going up to
Christmas. I didn't sell many brussel sprouts in early October, but
mid-October and into November I am selling 6 to 10 stalks/week. Don't plant
many, but they are doing well for the space they took. They sell much better
than cabbage.
My challenge has been figuring out how much to grow. I grow much more than I
can harvest and sell. We will put up a small farmstand next summer, and work
hard at growing the new market also. I think quantities have sunk in this
year and I will not run out of space for successions because I planted the
whole 200 foot row while I was at it.
If you have a small space, and it is shady, go for salad mix, cilantro,
parsley, etc. Maybe shade-loving plants to sell.

Beth Spaugh
Rehoboth Homestead
Peru NY
http://rhomestead.com <http://rhomestead.com/> 

~Without power over our food, any notion of democracy is empty.  Francis
Moore Lappe


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