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.