Instead of buying groceries you could sell them!

From Garden to Farmers Market

by Kristine Kostuck

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If you are on the lookout for ways to save money, chances are you already have a garden to cut grocery costs down. But, what to do with all of that produce you grow? Donating your fruits and veggies can be a nice way to give back, but what if I told you you can help save the environment, give back to the community, and make some cash all with what goes unused in your garden? In this article, I will explain how you can be a successful part-time farmers' market vendor.

  1. Get an early start: Begin planning in late February (yes, February). It seems crazy, but you will need that extra time to plan your garden's budget, find the right vendor opportunity, and sow your seeds.
  2. Cross your T's and dot your I's: Contact your local health department and find out what your state's requirements are. Often times, they have very few regulations on fresh produce vending, but many states have rules, such as not allowing sales on fresh fruit and vegetable cuts.
  3. Find your retail space: Start looking for opportunities to sell your stuff right away. If you do not have a farmers' market in your city, check out neighboring towns. Many markets do not require you to sign up for the full season and will even give you the option to sell for a single day. Only you will be able to know how deep you want to dig in, but if you have a small garden, paying per day is recommended.
  4. Buy lots of seeds and transplants: Some of the best places to buy the ingredients for the best garden are seed catalogs or websites. Check out Gurney's® or order directly from Burpee®. Most of the time you can order in bulk and receive high quality transplants that will last all year long. Take into consideration what not only grows well in your state, but also what is a little uncommon. Often times, farmers' markets are saturated with the same popular produce. Pick a few things that are unique to insure variety.
  5. Spread the love: Invest in some paper pots and grow lights. Start growing some of your seeds inside your home. As they start to grow, pick out the healthiest of the bunch. Sell these early in season at your local farmers market. Potted plants like herbs should be ready for the market after two to three weeks. For larger plants like peas and peppers, it is recommended to wait up to seven to eight weeks.
  6. Make money, give back: Once your garden is producing, pick, clean, and price all items that you are not going to eat. Save the veggies that have spots or marks on them for your family and sell the nicer looking ones. The prettier the produce, the greater the chance it will sell. After the market, donate all unwanted items to the homeless shelter.
  7. Make more next year: Once the season is finished, set aside some of your earnings for next season. Keep it in a savings account, jar under your bed, or wherever you know you will not touch it all winter.

If you feel the farmers' market is not a good fit for you, check out your local co-op, try Craigslist, or even set up your own stand. Happy growing!

Reviewed January 2018

Take the Next Step:

  • 5 steps to saving money with a lasagna garden.
  • Gardening on the cheap is simple. Just visit the TDS Frugal Gardening Guide and we'll show you the many ways frugal gardeners maintain beautiful, bountiful gardens for less.
  • Discover dozens of additional ways to make extra cash by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Get control of your financial life. Subscribe to Financial Independence, a free daily email that provides you with the tools to help you gain that control and achieve financial independence. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist for FREE!

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