Saturday, July 27, 2013
Walk the Walk
So today I finally decided to put my money where my mouth is. For years I been harping about local small farming and how it was going to be the wave of the future. How energy prices were going to make local production more viable etc. etc. etc.
Since it has been such a good year for honey production and I have built up a pretty good surplus it was time to take a trip to a local farmers market and stick my big toe in the water. All the friends, co-workers and relatives are stocked up and supplied. Time to see if selling honey is actually worth my while.
At the crack of pre-dawn I was out loading the truck with some $200.00 worth of honey in various sized bottles of both plastic and glass. Why I even had a few of those cheesy bears to sell. I also threw in some garden produce as well figuring "why not".
Sales were steady and the farmers market I chose only ran until noon. I figured I didn't want to over do it for starters or anything. I had no honey competition nor had there ever been any at that particular market I was told in years. Without knowing anything about pricing I listed most items at about 10% above grocery store honey. I was not trying to get the exorbitant raw honey prices I see on the net, just make it a viable alternative to grocery store honey.
After all this isn't about becoming rich. This is about proving the time has come when local small producers can actually compete against the large scale transportation food conglomerate cheap oil has produced. I am not even trying to make a market niche here using terms like "it's better for you" or "Know where your food comes from" type stuff. I am only interested in the bottom line. Period. Has the day of small farming began to dawn again?
Well what can one trip really tell you? As I said sales were steady and I unloaded over half the honey I had to sell. I also unloaded almost all the garden produce I had as well. The other sellers had auction bought produce they had purchased and it looked exactly like any produce you would find in any given grocery store. There were a few others with farm grown eggs, jellies, baked goods that type of thing so I am not counting them although they seemed to have their own niche and repeat customers as well.
If one judges by looks a local farmer cannot compete against the auction produce buyers. However as I found out the small farmer can now compete price-wise easily and has an advantage I made good use of.
The honey of course sold itself. On it's own it was well worth the trip as after expenses for about four hours of work I walked away with about $120.00 profit. Of course if I figure in all the hours I put into it I probably only made about $2.00 an hour but hey being your own boss?..... Priceless lol.
Produce was the real razor margin. I had to end up selling everything at about .25 cents an item. That did add up fast. Of course my cucumbers weren't as uniformly green as the auction stuff or as shiny but where the big draw came was in variety. Shoppers went gaga over the Lemon cucumbers and patti pan squash. Especially when I had photo-copied recipes to give with purchase. I was asked several times about heirloom tomatoes of which sadly I still do not have enough ripe to bother selling.
All in all I maybe sold $10.00 worth of veggies but I consider that an actual success. Would it be enough to support a small farmer? Not yet. But the prices for the auctioned stuff has bottomed out and that means the time has come. We have already reached the point that farmers markets are actually cheaper than grocery stores. At this point it is simply a matter of the general population figuring it out for themselves and once that catches on the boom period should begin in earnest. I have been watching produce prices for the last five years predicting this cross and I believe it has finally arrived.
Again this is only one jump into the breach. I had been visiting often waiting and watching the tide though so it is not just a cold turkey thing. I have been waiting for this set of circumstances to finally arrive. Now it is just a matter of seeing if the tides continue or if things shift once again.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!