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#1 of 17 Old 05-04-2014, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Does anyone here sell at a farmers' market? How did you get set up? What do you sell? How do you do transactions? Do you just do cash? How to do credit cards? Any experience trying to take food stamps?

 

How about insurance? Would a homeowner's policy cover it? Do you need to be insured as a farm?

 

Do you discount items late in the day or just use at home (eg I could freeze/eat any eggs or baked goods we don't sell)?

 

Any resources on what to do or read as a first-time seller?

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#2 of 17 Old 05-04-2014, 02:11 PM
 
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Oh what a lovely post! :)

 

We sell our farm produce at Chichester, at 'The Hornet'. For this you will will need a trader's licence, and in the UK this is applied for at the town's local council offices under 'Trading'. Departments are, at times, notoriously difficult to locate in the building because they often get moved around due to enconomizing or streamling their services to the public. You will need public liability insurance. Talk to your broker.

 

We sell hen's eggs (these are certified free of salmonella), dairy butter, cheese and clotted cream; Sussex clotted cream. We are not permitted even to call our's "Cornish style" because of Cornwall's POD registration protecting its fine clotted cream tradition.

 

We also sell cakes, homemade at the farm: sulatana fingerellas similar to those the French sell. Also condiments including jams accord to the season our fruit becomes available. We employ a couple of part-time staff to make our produce en masse, otherwise we couldn't cope. We also sell honey, and fresh fruit when in season and juiced pears and apples. Last autumn we enjoyed a massive fruit glut due to a wet season. That, however, brought in a great amount of revenue. Accept cash only no cheques. If punters don't like that - tough. Do do credit unless setting up a supply contract.

 

Be prepared to refuse funny bums trying to haggle. Be prepared also to work in all weather conditions, though our stall is under a stout canopy. We are considering visiting Dieppe to set up a stall in the town, but French red tape and bureaucracy is a right royal pain. You will need a long wheel base van to transport your produce.

 

You need to be a morning person - aheam - a very early morning person. Pack your van the evening before except for perishable goods, and prepared to be rained on; that I personally can guarantee if you live in England. You need a strong voice to call out your produce, how much and what a bargain it is. "Come on people, gather round - large hen's eggs £1.20 a dozen! Fresh out the chicken's bum" that sort of thing. :wink Its real fun and, you get to have regulars always coming back for more. :thumb 

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#3 of 17 Old 05-04-2014, 02:17 PM
 
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How to do credit cards? Any experience trying to take food stamps?

 

No selling experience, but from reading our local market policies and other articles on them it seems that the market managers generally have a set-up to take credit cards and sometimes SNAP (food stamps) at the main table in specific increments and then give the customer a certificate they can use at the various booths. Then the vendor takes them back to the manager to exchange for cash. Not sure exactly how it works. You could probably call your local market and find out their specific policies.

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#4 of 17 Old 05-04-2014, 02:20 PM
 
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Great questions! I'm interested as well!
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#5 of 17 Old 05-04-2014, 04:28 PM
 
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Always make a profit even if it's 25p above raw ingredients' costs. We buy huge quantities of flour, ( http://www.bigbarn.co.uk/places/West-Sussex/Lurgashall/local-food/flour/ ) but the biggest cost outlay is sugar. You need to carefully source your suppliers, especially for white sugar. Example of this is we use white sugar derived from sugarbeet rather than cane, whereas the more expensive sugar comes from the West Indies: Demerara from Barbados. Nice and crunchy, a very pronounced taste and superb for flapjacks, but Demerara quality varies. For jams we use refined sugar to obtain clarity in our batches.

 

We used to deal with Billington's until they kept messing with their wholesalle prices. Now we deal direct with a sugar refinery in the West Indies. Ideally we could contract out the milling of our wheat crops for flour except we don't produce enough except for our own domestic use. Again, it's important to carefully source your suppliers and get best price.

 

Then there is packaging. Fruit is always placed in pre-formed polystyrene containers. eg, for 4 apples/pears or multiples. Clingfilm is put over the fruit for protection, always done by machine and the same for bottling juices to which we add a small amount of Vitamin C to prolong the freshly queezed apple and pear juices from going brown.

 

Butter, cream and cheese are made in a sterile area, quite separate from the other cooking areas of our farm. And lastly you MUST keep a log of all your cash transactions and this means bookeeping.

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#6 of 17 Old 05-04-2014, 05:50 PM
 
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:lurk  I was just fantasizing about this today as I was driving through the country...

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#7 of 17 Old 05-05-2014, 04:56 PM
 
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:lurk  I was just fantasizing about this today as I was driving through the country...

 

Then why not start a small stall at a country fair or open flea market selling homemade jams, cakes and tracklements? Jams and tracklements you could make a stock of first; tracklements improve over time anyway and cakes and small bite food like flapjacks can be made a day or two in advance. From little acorns do mighty oaks grow, and your starting off in small way could lead onto better more profitable times. Never give away your recipes.That way, people come back for more.

 

Our market stall is well established and was built over years long before I joined the family. It is well established like so many local farm producers in Sussex spanning from Hastings in the east of Sussex going all the way across to Chichester in West, and up north as far as Crawley and Haywards Heath. So many people started in a humble way, and it's a golden little earner for those who soldier on. Go on, give it a try. :)

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#8 of 17 Old 05-05-2014, 06:00 PM
 
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Then why not start a small stall at a country fair or open flea market selling homemade jams, cakes and tracklements?

I have no idea what tracklements are, and cakes, well, mileage varies, but let me take a minute to suggest you think about what equipment you're used to having when you make jam. If you want to sell a jar of jam, you need to be able to attest to certain things about production conditions (like "no cats walked over the counter to visit while I was picking over fruit"), and you need to be able to vacuum seal the jars. These things are trivial to achieve in commercial kitchens, with commercial equipment, but I don't have access to either of those things. I have made jam, and I have sealed it properly, and then we ate it ourselves, as I determined that I was insufficiently sure of the food safety issues to give it as gifts.

Also, if you don't grow your own fruit, or have a cheap source of it handy, most of the profit margin on jam disappears right there.
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#9 of 17 Old 05-05-2014, 06:08 PM
 
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I have no idea what tracklements are, and cakes, well, mileage varies, but let me take a minute to suggest you think about what equipment you're used to having when you make jam. If you want to sell a jar of jam, you need to be able to attest to certain things about production conditions (like "no cats walked over the counter to visit while I was picking over fruit"), and you need to be able to vacuum seal the jars. These things are trivial to achieve in commercial kitchens, with commercial equipment, but I don't have access to either of those things. I have made jam, and I have sealed it properly, and then we ate it ourselves, as I determined that I was insufficiently sure of the food safety issues to give it as gifts.

Also, if you don't grow your own fruit, or have a cheap source of it handy, most of the profit margin on jam disappears right there.

 

I already know about our jam production methods although personally I don't make the jams and marmalades (except small batch for home use). The farm management employ people to do all our jams and tracklements now and have been doing so since I believe, 2003. Everything is made in sterile conditions, and have to be because of health and safety regulations that apply to manufacture. Tracklements incidentally are pickles, sauces and mustards.

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#10 of 17 Old 05-05-2014, 06:17 PM
 
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Right - your jam is perfectly safe, because it is manufactured to commercial standards in a commercial facility, in compliance with health and safety regulations. My jam, and the jam made by most people who daydream about chucking the workday world and selling things in farmer's markets, is made in home kitchens, on equipment that would never be considered appropriate for commercial use. When you ask "why not make and sell your own jam?" the answer is "because you can't make appropriately food-safe jam in a home kitchen."
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#11 of 17 Old 05-05-2014, 06:34 PM
 
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Right - your jam is perfectly safe, because it is manufactured to commercial standards in a commercial facility, in compliance with health and safety regulations. My jam, and the jam made by most people who daydream about chucking the workday world and selling things in farmer's markets, is made in home kitchens, on equipment that would never be considered appropriate for commercial use. When you ask "why not make and sell your own jam?" the answer is "because you can't make appropriately food-safe jam in a home kitchen."

 

I forgot to add that we grow our own fruit as have orchards, and soft fruit such as raspberries and strawberries are grown in our fields adjacent to Haskin's garden centre, though I hasten to add that Haskin's is nothing to do with us.

 

Yes, our jam and marmalades are prefectly safe because of food producing regulations are stringent. We have a separate premesis on-site that produces our market stock for selling. We cannot by reason of health & safety produce our groceries in the house.

 

I daresay that families producing jams etc and hire a stall pitch for a tenner a day at outdoor flea markets and boot fairs  probably make their stuff at home in their own kitchen. These people are ordinary folk who don't need a commercial licence because they are not trading under a company name. Example of this is just outside Eastbourne (Polegate) in East Sussex, every weekend are "Mammoth Boot Fairs": http://www.mammothbootfairs.co.uk/  whereupon anyone can set up a little stall and sell cakes and jams they have made, along with others selling god-knows what else as there once originated as "car boot fairs", unique to old England, the British doing their own sweet thing.

 

Time I went to bed. Fight another day. :rotflmao G'nighty!

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#12 of 17 Old 05-05-2014, 07:04 PM
 
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In the U.S. the laws are different in every single state and we have only in the last few years started passage of cottage food production laws, which allow specific foods to be made in the home. In our state we are required to take a food safety course, label everything very specifically, and agree to kitchen inspection if a complaint is made and we are limited in what foods we can make to those considered not potentially hazardous, so nothing that required refridgeration at all. I think jams are fine but no pickled veggies or anything like that. Baked goods vary.

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#13 of 17 Old 05-06-2014, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, Spiderpig, that's a lot of information and encouragement! Thanks! :thumb

 

We are in Virginia, in the US. I know that churches around here will sell home-canned foods at fund raisers. Would individuals selling at farmers' markets be considered the same? I guess I'll have to try to contact the manager and see if he can point me to local licensing resources.

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#14 of 17 Old 05-06-2014, 09:12 AM
 
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Here in California fundraisers are considered different from for-profit selling.
The Cottage Food legislation has opened up a lot more opportunities than before. I believe jam and pickles are okay because they are acidic canned goods. Baked goods that are free of fresh dairy are also okay. I suggest talking with your local farmers market. They will have all of the info pertinent to your area.
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#15 of 17 Old 05-06-2014, 12:33 PM
 
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Proving food safety and all the paperwork/hoops are a big deterent for me. I think if I ever end up having a booth at a market it will be for something like candles.

It's awfully annoying how all the states have different requirements.


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#16 of 17 Old 06-24-2014, 09:46 AM
 
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very nice thread! I have been thinking about the market but the problem is that the market is in the city 3 hours away by car! How far is your market from your farm?

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#17 of 17 Old 07-15-2014, 04:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by fruitfulmomma View Post
Quote:How to do credit cards? Any experience trying to take food stamps?

No selling experience, but from reading our local market policies and other articles on them it seems that the market managers generally have a set-up to take credit cards and sometimes SNAP (food stamps) at the main table in specific increments and then give the customer a certificate they can use at the various booths. Then the vendor takes them back to the manager to exchange for cash. Not sure exactly how it works. You could probably call your local market and find out their specific policies.
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Originally Posted by mamapigeon View Post
Proving food safety and all the paperwork/hoops are a big deterent for me. I think if I ever end up having a booth at a market it will be for something like candles.
It's awfully annoying how all the states have different requirements.
Fruitful Momma has it about right. Food stamps or SNAP is set up by the market management or other group (backyard harvest works with all three of the markets we attend to offer this service) and in our case they swipe the benefit card and give them tokens which we then exchange for cash at the end of the market.

Mamapigeon, I agree! We sell veggies, meat and sometimes will take our wool to market. The retail USDA meats have lots of regulations but at least they're specific. Veggies are actually harder in some ways because there is more left up to the inspector's whim, at least here in WA and ID. As someone who sells across the state border it can be very frustrating!

Definitely doable. What do you have a passion for? what hoops are you willing to jump through? are there alternative methods if the hoops are too high or too many for you just starting out?

As far as getting set up, go visit the markets you want to attend at least once to get a feel for them. Go talk to the market manager. At the market you can probably get a quick conversation in but ask them if you can contact them later if you've got more questions. They're job is to help you get going in the market! They'll also help you find all their documentation on their rules, requirements, etc. each market will have it's own bylaws too!

When we first started 5.5 seasons ago we just did cash and even now that's what many folks expect. We also got ourselves set up with Square to take credit card transactions (and now use Square's Register app on our iPad for all transactions for the data! that's really cool!) even though it's still a small part of our transactions. We get typically either very large transactions by credit card or very small ones from the college kids who forget that cash exists. We also take checks too but those are rare as well.

Insurance: YES! check out all your options and requirements. it all depends on what exactly you do. if you are a farm, chances are you'll already have some sort of farm policy (or should!!!). if you're doing processed foods of some sort, check into the most appropriate policies for that. what does the market you're going to attend require? Buy as much insurance as you can afford because someday you'll need it and a little is better than nothing!

end of market extra stuff: totally depends on the item, how well it holds and how many markets/times per week you are selling. if it'll hold until the next time you sell without a problem, then don't discount it! if it's pretty perishable, we often trade amongst ourselves as vendors to fufill our own shopping lists. if there's a lot left and there's a local restaurant who buys at the farmer's market then ask them if they're interested and sell it wholesale to them. If there's another vendor there who has a farm stand, perhaps they could sell the item for you on consignment out of their farm stand during the week or buy it outright at wholesale.

my advice? talk to the other vendors, the market managers, ask your customers to report back to you on how the item came out or tasted or whatever.

also, be a happy pleasant, easy to approach person in your booth. smile and stand up and engage everyone you can! many markets have a "no hawking" rule but you can always ask folks how their day is going or whatever to get them to engage. they're more likely to buy if they've been engaged and like you. whether they buy this week or next it doesn't matter. Sometimes i'll spend a good chunk of time showing someone every... single...different...cut of meat only to have them say "too expensive for me this week" or something of the sort but they'll often eventually come back and buy something because I engaged with them.

best of luck!

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