Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Market Garden and Selling Your Homebaked Goods

Another question I have been asked recently is how to begin with selling produce and home baked goods, even on a small scale.

We are not experienced farmers and still have so very much to learn.  Please know I  welcome suggestions and ideas.

I am just going to share our experiences.

We moved up to Vermont in the fall of 2005, into a rental home right in a village.  The blessing was that there was about 1/2 acre of amazing soil.  It had been old farm land.  All we had to do was till and plant.  At this time we didn't own a tiller and with no money to invest in one, we dug by hand - yes, shovels.  The older boys would be asked to turn over one row each day and dear husband, Mike, did most of it.  I helped as often as I could.  When we had a about 1/4 left, we were given a tiller and that made the finishing much faster.  We didn't have to add any compost to the soil.  And everything just grew and grew and grew.

There was an unattached garage and I set up a little farmstand to sell our produce, baked goods and handmade goods.  I put a sign at the end of our driveway to attract customers.  We had a few sales this way, but not too many.  But, what a wonderful way to meet the neighbors, many of them elderly people.   It was a joy to have them knock on our door, looking for cucumbers for pickling or to share some raspberries with us that they had just picked from their back yard.

We signed up for a farmers market as well and made the weekly drive on Fridays.  Our sales were decent, about $100 - $150 or so with all of the produce selling well.  We could have used more for sure.  It was a nice time for our family to meet farmers and artists, especially being new to the area.

After the rental house sold and we moved to our mobile home on leased land we immediately began the process of tilling and preparing the soil for planting.  This time, however, the soil was poor, real poor.  We were blessed to have a neighbor that had 5 year old composted cow manure dumped on his property when a nearby farm was sold.  He offered this to us for no cost.  This helped and our crops improved the second year, but not enough to consider selling beyond our own little farmstand we put out right in front of our property.  Even living on a rural gravel road, it was amazing how many people stopped to buy.   We just left an  honor system mason jar out for people to leave money.

The little homestead we bought just one mile further down the gravel road did not have gardens in place and we have had to, once again, begin the process of improving the clay soil by adding lots of compost.

We did not have enough excess produce to sell any last year, but will be planting twice as much this year.  Perhaps the farmstand will return this summer.  I also, in the past, would bake cookies and other goodies for both the farmstand and the market and they always sold very well along with our eggs.

It was interesting to find that the most common vegetables were the best sellers - tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and squash.

Warm wishes,


  1. It's really nice that there are states that will let you sell baked goods without a certified kitchen and license. Here you can't. Before I moved to this place I had put a certified kitchen in my home and it had to be inspected every so often. My daughter and I sold at four farmers markets a week and did really good. I really enjoyed meeting people and talking to them. I am planning to go to a farmers market and sell produce there and as a stand here at my place this year. I'm thinking maybe some crafts too. Blessings to you.

  2. We are considering small market farming if my husband loses his job. In preparation for this we have sheet mulched those areas that we will plant perennial herbs. This is an easy no- till method that we have used in the past. We just make layers of compost, mulches and newspaper and brown cardboard boxes. I recommend this for perennials because slugs like to live underneath. But the tilth of the soil is beautiful even after 6 months to a year of doing this. Also, the weeds are few and those that do sprout are easy to pull.

  3. I LOVE going to farmers markets and also often stop if I see stands at the end of people's drives selling fruit and veggies etc. They are often really good value it's so nice to buy local produce. When I had an allotment before we moved we used to have a table there for people to share and swap gluts of produce and we did seed swaps as well which was great :)

  4. good luck with this years harvest! We grow enough now for our family to eat fresh and preserve for the year here in Maine with a little left to give to friends. My dream is to get back to VT in the next few years and have more space to grow more and maybe have a few sheep.

  5. I had hoped to attend the farmer's market and sell extra produce that we grow along with eggs from our chickens. Since we live so far from town and with the rising prices of fuel, I am rethinking this idea. I do find comfort in knowing I will not have to worry about grocery store prices, well, except for milk. Still trying to find "Olive", the milk cow.

  6. I sympathize and understand what Alla is saying - our state is ridiculously over-regulated as well. There is no-way in WA that you could sell your home baked goods without huge government interference. I think it's great that you can though and I would do it if I could! I was wondering Tonya, what kind of experiences you have had with the honor system for payment of your goods - any problems?
    I love your blog - I find it very inspirational. It is one of the few that I check daily.

  7. This is great information! Do you sell you handmade goods at the farmers market or in your farm stand as well?
    I hope to sell beans, peas, squash, maybe carrots and potatoes and beets. Along with eggs and my quilts and hand made dolls.

  8. So quaint! May God bless your crops this year!


  9. Hi, I am getting to visit some of my favorite blogs today. It is blessings my heart. I needed a little fun today and I received that after reading your post. I am so excited for spring to start happening around Kansas. It has been up and down weather. Starting my seeds tomorrow and have my incubator full of chicken eggs and one duck egg. A bobcat came on our farm and killed all the ducks.......12 of them and all my banty chickens except one. Sad........still have about 40 big girls and roosters so I still have eggs.

    Thank you for your sweet is a blessing,

  10. We buy eggs each week for my family and for another neighbor from a stand at the end of a driveway when I bring my kids to their fife and drum practice. The eggs are fresher than those from the grocery store and cheaper as well, even though they are free range and way more tasty. I sometimes have to leave a check in their tin can because I have no cash... Once I met the famly that lives there and they had such a chuckle about my checks from "so far away." We drive about 40 minutes to this practice but there are no farm stands in our town that have eggs like these. Once we had a neighbor... Oh was that you that had chickens....

  11. What surprised and delighted me was the sale of my cheese at small, local farmer's markets. I am a beginner, took a few classes down in Ashfield, Mass., and started making small batches of cheddar cheese. Whoa! I sold out every time. It seems that those folks who do well at the market have found a niche that people go back to them over and over again, whether it's meat, fruit, flowers or vegetables. You do have to have a "dairy" to sell cheese in Vermont (sink, cheese vat, floors you can hose down). I'm looking for an income that is consistent each year.