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Late morning at the farmers’ market

Farmers’ market early August

Beautiful weather and average traffic today at the market. Here, it’s late morning, with peak sales over. It’s been one of those days when what I’ve noticed most is the pressure to price low. In general, my veggies are priced a little higher than most of the other market vendors. Regular customers have no problem with this, apparently they find that succession planting, different varieties, and fresh, day-before picking are worth a premium. These are advantages of really tiny farming, but they have to be appreciated for it all to work. The biggest veggie vendor at this farmers’ market buys from other growers, comes with a big box truck and forklift, has at least half a dozen sales people, and competes on price with the supermarkets. At times, it’s hard to ignore the stacked playing field, the unnaturally low fresh produce prices we’re accustomed to, at least, here in North America. Oh well, it’s no-rain, dog days of summer thinking…quite a normal part of tiny farming. :) There’s no shortage of challenges around here. Put in perspective, they’re what keep things exciting!

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4 Comments

  1. Erin

    I think I know the vendor you’re talking about! They had cucumbers there in shrink wrap!! People shouldn’t be going to the farmers market for shrink wrapped foods!! THere will be a very gradual shift to appreciation for hark work and of course love!! ;)
    Hey are you aware that you are in the book called “Ecoholic”? It is a primarily Canadian green resource book…you are listed in the back resource list under Organic CSA!!
    Thats GREAT!!

  2. Your produce looks beautiful!! I wish you were at vendor at our Farmer’s Market, which is just getting off the ground in our small community. I would be a “regular” for sure. :-)

  3. I absolutely feel that third party vendors should NOT be allowed at farmer’s markets. They’re called “farmer’s markets” for a reason– so that people can purchase their produce from the person that grew it. If I wanted a shrink-wrapped something-or-other from someone I couldn’t and wouldn’t ever know, I’d go to the supermarket. It’s a shame your market allows it– makes it harder for you to compete. I’d much rather see honest competition and diversity of product amongst friendly farmers who are all in the same boat.

  4. Amanda: I STILL tell people that I’m not at all “political” or an “activist”, that I started off wide-eyed and politics-free, and all of my opinions now are simply common sense reactions to what I’ve inevitably learned over my few years of tiny farming. But really, our whole first world food situation seems quite ridiculous and can make you irate and wanting to DO SOMETHING (in addition to small-scale farming). Still, I try to remain kinda balanced, to see all sides.

    Last winter, I was chatting with a garlic grower who attends many farmers’ markets in this region, and according to him, many/most smaller markets have one anchor vendor who obviously buys produce from somewhere (maybe it IS “local”, bought wholesale from big regional growers). These vendors are tolerated and necessary because they attract a big base weekly traffic, all of those people who apparently feel that buying veggies outdoors off a table at a market, even if they’re the same veggies they’d get in the supermarkets, is a good thing. They wander around, buy stuff from other vendors, keep the market visibly bubbling along. I don’t know how accurate any of this is, but I find it totally plausible that the public at large still isn’t that into local food, and smaller markets could be hurt if traffic went down, not only as far as sales, but when it comes to location, services, and so forth voted on by the various town councils.

    Dunno, maybe I’m overthinking, but in this case as in others, I maintain a cheerful outlook and try to focus on steadily improving this tiny farm rather than getting pissed off at…externals, going off half-cocked, and ending up spending more energy on a different sort of activism than the original tiny farming itself. Everything in its time, don’t get too far ahead of the awareness and will of the people immediately around you…it’s a show-by-example and a timing thing?! Well, that’s my evolving attitude! ;)

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