Friday, August 8, 2014

The Farmer's Market and You

I certainly am no expert on Farmer's Markets across the country or even in any state outside of Missouri for that matter. I have frequented several around my immediate area of course and even sold at a few from time to time if I had a nice honey surplus.

I have several reasons for being interested in the activity and culture that surrounds these local markets. I have watched some spring up and die quick deaths while others start small and stay small and yet others almost explode in growth. There are reasons for the changes I think and I also believe that communities which have an organized and healthy market during this phase of the decline stand a much better chance of surviving the next phase intact.

Community is going to be necessary for survival as the decline continues and these local markets will become the center of economic activity for that community. If your plan is to produce excess or even offer a needed service you are going to have to have a central location to peddle your wares. Items that are produced locally by others will be obtained there and knowing who has what to sell around you is always a good thing.

The more I try and stockpile everything I think I might need for the future the more I realize it's an impossible task. Eventually I am going to need something I didn't think to stock up on as will everyone else and a local market area will be where we hope we can find what we need.

Recently I have begun to notice a trend in the local markets that I feel is a direct effect of our shrinking and inflating economy and the main focus of this post. Five or six years ago the main sellers at the markets I attended were what I labeled as resellers. These were folks who made trips to regional produce stores and purchased their wares (mostly vegetables) in large lots and then traveled around the markets selling them. Rarely was it mentioned that they were not growing their own produce.

What typically happened was these resellers would corner the market, especially early in the season, because they would have the best looking and most abundant wares while those who grew their own suffered from having very little ripe produce. As the weeks went by the resellers would typically be undercut as things became ripe and by the end of the season the reseller tables had disappeared usually claiming they didn't make enough money to be worth their time and effort.

The last year or so though I have witnessed almost a complete drop in reseller tables the entire season. Most are not even bothering to show at all anymore because margins have dropped so low it doesn't even pay for the transportation fees to resell. There are still a few mixed sellers out there who combine growing their own with buying from surplus warehouses. The mixed sellers also try and buy the individual producer's good as well to resell at other markets.

As near as I can tell the customers at the local markets are still made up mostly of niche buyers. Those who come because they prefer the local fresh grown vegetables or who just like to mingle. However last week I did over hear a lady actually mention that prices at the market were cheaper than buying at the grocery store. This is a huge step and one I predicted would begin happening.

Even if you have not been a frequent visitor, seller or buyer at your local market I would recommend going and checking it out because the times are changing fast. What once was not a viable economic endeavor in your area may be so now and certainly will be so eventually depending on how fast the decline reaches your area.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!


  1. It just hasn't been worth my time and patience to deal with the public and sell vegetables, they just aren't hungry enough yet I guess or have no idea how much work it takes to pick beans or what ever. I do trade them for other peoples produce or services and avoid sitting around all day trying to get someone to buy a pound of beans. Both the wife and daughter play piano so we just traded a bushel of beans for tuning. The tuner is happy as he doesn't have a garden and we have a piano in tune. As things decline further, their may be people waiting to buy food and it will be much easier and quicker to sell.

    1. Sf - Oh I understand what you are saying. If I didn't go specifically to sell soem honey every so often I wouldn't bother selling produce at all. The resellers like it though although they don't pay a lot they buy in volume.

      However I can see where making money at it is now easier than it was a few years ago. My guess is it won't be long now until it is very profitable.

  2. Farmers markets are just like any business, some will fail and others will grow. I think of the re sellers as futures traders, just in it to make a buck. But low, sell high until is spoils.

    1. Rob - Ya but the way things have been going it isn't possible for the resellers to do that anymore. The economy and high energy prices are leveling the playing field once again.

  3. we have several farmer's markets here on the island but not many of the "reselling" types - thank goodness! what i really love tho is the guys who pull up in ice trucks, in our grocery store parking lot, and sell fish out of the back of the truck AND WITHOUT A LICENSE - bahahahahahah! nobody bugs them and they go out early in the morning and then pack 200lbs of halibut or mackeral or eel or striped bass in layers of ice and then park their truck in the parking lot. and within 3 or 4 hours they are empty. and their prices are fair and there is only ever one or two trucks at a time. some guys do it with lobster or crab or mussels, etc. what is even better is one night we were at our friends' house's about 10 o"clock at night and a knock at the door. it's a guy asking if we want to buy some beautiful filleted haddock. we split with our friends and got 10lbs for $42 bucks each. but the fish had been caught that day and was filleted beautifully. buddy was driving around knocking on doors and selling it.

    i agree that the playing field for re-sellers at the markets vs. the actual farmers is leveling out. due to gas prices. and that's a good thing!

    lots of awesome posts lately buddy! keep up the good work! your friend,
    (didn't even call you a wiener once in this comment.)

    1. Kymber - OMG I am salivating reading about that. Fresh seafood... mmmmm

      I can't even think now to come up with an intelligent reply.


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