Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to make a Farmers Market Work

Yesterday I went to the Farmer's Market in Oakridge, TN. As always it was hot and sticky and I was ringing wet by the time I set up, but it was still fun. As always I am impressed with the ingenuity and hard work ethics of the people who sell at the Market. Many of them are quite wealthy but you would not know it because they are so down to earth. One 16 year old girl sells produce to support her horse show habit. She shows Walking horses and racking horses.I talked to a lady and her daughter yesterday who are selling several varities of heirloom tomatoes. I think they have a good niche and seemed to do pretty well. The baked goods always seem to do well, too.
Displays are very important. I have learned a lot from the other vendors. Each stand is very attractive. Piling the watermelons and cantaloupe in front of the table attracted the people. Wicker baskets displaying colorful produce always looks good. I have a huge wicker basket= 4 ft. tall to display my corn.
Ron has been planting lettuce, carrots, squash and radishes. We have to be careful to keep the soil cooled down so that they germinate properly. It will be tricky this time of the year but we will try. The honey dew melons are ready to be transplanted.
I canned 21 quart of tomatoes and used the Turkey Frier to can in. I can put 14 quarts in the pot at one shot. Really speeds up the canning process.
We will query the different vendors tomorrow to see how many would like to continue selling thru the winter. We will have a great variety of fall produce: Various lettuces, carrots, radishes, bok choi, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, etc. Also offering artisan breads, goat milk soap, maple syrup, jams, gluten-free breads, and hopefully this spring we will have bedding plants and heirloom seeds.
We visited Paul Wiediger on Tuesday. He has a great book, Walking to Spring, about High Tunnel Winter gardening.

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