A farmers’ market is a market in which producers from a local area gather to sell their own products directly to the public. By selling direct, farmers eliminate the middlemen, and are able to sell at retail prices. A farmers’ market can be a low-cost way for a beginning farmer to learn about retailing and to develop marketing skills. The cost to participate is usually low, and at popular markets there are plenty of customers. Farmers’ markets have been increasing in popularity in the last two decades and many communities have one or more markets.
“A farmers’ market can be a low-cost way for a beginning farmer to learn about retailing and to develop marketing skills.”
Farmers’ markets vary greatly in how they operate and what customers they attract. In addition, there will be many other farmers at the market in direct competition for the available customers. These things greatly impact the income a farmer can expect to make at a market.
- Established customer base; advertising and promotion taken on by the market
- Low marketing start-up cost
- Retail prices received
- Small amounts of products are acceptable
- Immediate feedback allows testing of product line
- Allows social contact, networking
- Ability to promote farm and products directly to customers
- Limited sales volume, since each contact is one to one
- Time to prepare and be present at the market
- People skills are a necessity
- Retailing skills are also necessary
- Establishing a loyal customer base takes a few years for a new market
- Must differentiate yourself from other farmers with same products
- Vehicle to carry products
- Display tables
- Tent or umbrella, optional (although required at some markets)
- Cash box
- Scales (if product is sold by weight) or containers (if product is sold by unit)
- Application fee or fee per market
- Farmers should bring only high-quality products to the market
- Display products in an attractive and eye-catching manner
- It’s all about relationships – talk to the customers; be friendly and courteous
- Ask a fair price, be reasonable and don’t undercut fellow farmers
- Producer only markets are more desirable
Adapted from a presentation by Lynn Pugh and Fundamentals of Organic Farming and Gardening, Unit 7 Marketing and Certification, from Georgia Organics.
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