. . . what is a farmer's market? I always thought of it as a small
store that a farmer set up to sell his produce, but your post seems to
imply that it is something else.
Also, I am planning on starting a small farm with the idea of selling
enough produce to make a living off of it. I was planning on trying to
sell it to the local stores in order to avoid having to man a farm stand
all day every day. Does your book cover any of this?
The following is an excerpt from chapter four of the book. A note
The very first thing we should understand is the punctuation in the
It is correctly placed. The apostrophe is used to express possession. If
we omitted the apostrophe, then the term would just mean a group of
farmers (plural) and a market (singular). That situation is common in
modern agriculture: a lot of farmers . . . and a market that shows no
direct relationship with farming. If we moved the apostrophe to the left
by one space, then we are using the possessive for a singular term. Now
we have one farmer . . . that owns the market. By placing the apostrophe
where it is, however, we are expressing the idea that it is the group
(plural) of farmers who possess the market. It implies a mutual
association for the benefit of many farmers. Make sure that your
farmers' market has the apostrophe in the correct position.
Let's look again at how the USDA defines a farmers' market:
"A common facility or area where several farmers/growers gather on a
regular, recurring basis to sell a variety of fresh fruits and
vegetables and other farm products directly to consumers."
This is an accurate and respectable definition. Here's why:
It uses the phrase "common facility or area," which implies a public
location and not an exclusive business establishment. It implies an
association of farmers rather than a single private enterprise.
The definition says that a farmers' market is "regular" and
"recurring." Indeed, your operation should be both. An irregular or
occasional market is confusing to the public. They want to know that if
they get out of bed at 6:30 A.M. on a Saturday morning to get fresh
tomatoes, a dozen eggs, and a pound cake straight from the farmer, the
market will be there and open.
What is sold by this definition? "Fresh fruits, vegetables, and
other farm products." I like it. This means that a farmers' market is
not limited to green beans, apples and sweet corn. It tells me that we
should be able to sell mulch straw by the bale to city gardeners; fresh
eggs from the farm; a pound of sausage from our own hogs; a gallon of
milk from our Jersey cow; and a loaf of whole wheat bread from our
farmhouse kitchen. Do you think that this is what the customer wants . .
. fresh food from the source? You'd better believe it!
Finally, the definition states "directly to consumers." Direct sales
methods provide many small and medium sized farmers with their only
access to the public. Many small scale growers have been shut out from
the mass markets of agribusiness by their inability to buy high-tech
packaging systems, produce cantaloupes in February, and their inability
to "measure up" to market standards. Farmers' markets are designed to
sell locally produced food and farm products directly to the customer.
It is the customer that sets the standard . . . and not a middleman. By
choosing this method of selling my produce, I'm deliberately electing to
sell to my neighbors in my hometown. Let the corporate conglomerates
feed Russia, China, and Europe. They think they do it very well. As for
me, I'll sell fresh and nutritious food to my friends and neighbors . .
. right here . . . in my own community. And I'll make a profit at it.
A Look Back
Farmers' markets have been around a long, long time. For centuries,
growers have been bringing in food from rural areas to sell to the
townsfolk. Historically, these markets have been fresh-air, seasonal,
Most markets around the nation were originally formulated or
organized by volunteers, to serve both the public and the farming
communities. There are, however, also many markets that "just sort of
Consider the following:
Two farmers in different vehicles are on their way to the local
grocery store where they normally sell their produce. They stop at an
empty parking lot to chat about the weather, the crops, and the prices
that the grocer is "giving them."
While they lean against the front fender of one farmer's truck, a
car pulls alongside. Two ladies get out of the car and walk over to the
back of one truck to inspect the fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and peas. One
of them says "Those are some nice looking tomatoes. Did you grow them
yourself?" One farmer replies "Yes. Less than ten miles from here.
Picked ‘em this morning as a matter of fact." The lady nods her head,
then asks "Your prices wouldn't be higher than the grocery store would
they?" The farmer self-consciously responds "Uhhhhh, no." And then more
confidently "No ma'am." He knows that at retail, he will receive 40%
more than he expected.
Looking at the other farmer, light bulbs of ideas are racing through
his mind like jolts of electricity. He likes what is happening here. He
then returns his attention to this gentlewoman and says "No ma'am. I
couldn't ask more than the grocery man does. My tomatoes are the same
price as his tomatoes." She quickly says "Good. I'll take 20 pounds. My
friend and I have a lot of canning to do this afternoon. How about those
peas over there? They look pretty good also."
Her friend then chimes in by asking the other farmer "How about you?
What have you got on your truck?" As the conversations continue, another
car pulls up . . . and then another.
A farmers' market has just been born.
I know this was rather lengthy (for an e-mail), but a public farmers'
market differs dramatically from a roadside stand or a farm stand. Most
small farmers attend the market only one day per week, thereby allowing
them to grow high quality produce, and it also allows them to "have a
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