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Outpost returns

Veggie stand in pieces

The mildly ambitious veggie outpost experiment of earlier this year has returned in pieces. The stand came back today, courtesy of Conall, who took it apart and dropped it off (you can’t help but notice, he’s pretty thorough when it comes to taking things apart…). In any case, a nearby coffee shop wanted to sell a small, choice selection of organic veggies. They were buying upfront at normal prices and marking them up a bit. Our part was to harvest once or twice a week, and deliver (only 12 miles)—building the stand was basically a last-minute favor… Why it didn’t work came down to that simple consideration that supermarkets are built on: SHELF LIFE. The coffee shop couldn’t get a handle on how to keep the veggies perky and fresh. I heard about an attempt to revive baby eggplants, shriveling after a day in the sun, by misting them like salad greens. Yikes. I would’ve helped if I could’ve, but I have zero experience with storage in a store-type situation. I’d kinda assumed that, since they prepare and sell food, they were equipped to figure it out. Not so. At the farmers’ market, I start in the cool early morning, it’s only six hours, and the veggies move quickly, so it’s all fine, without refrigeration or cooling, even on the hottest summer days. But keeping displayed veggies perfectly presentable for even a couple of days is a whole other specialized thing. Anyhow, after six weeks or so, we stopped. There was no ill will or anything, and we continued to supply mesclun for their salads for the rest of the season. The bottom line is a lesson I learned long ago, but failed to act on in this case: when you’re involved in something NEW, if there’s no plan that clearly deals with the DETAILS, chances are there will be…TROUBLE. I look forward to tackling this particular puzzle—how to handle daily fresh veggie sales—next year, when we FINALLY open the farm stand. ;)



  1. I have the same trouble with my farmstand. Usually I only sell tomatoes on my stand, and as long as it’s not over 95 degrees (F), the tomatoes stay reasonably fresh for a few days. Last year I tried to sell other veggies, too, and although the farmstand is on my property, I could still not keep the eggplants, greens, beans, and flowers fresh enough to sell them all. I’ve seen farmstands with windowed tall coolers. But there’s gotta be a better way!

  2. You’ve described it exactly! I’m kinda determined to try and stick with the open stand in the field for at least the first full farm stand season, and I have a horror of escalating electricity bills… Maybe a HOLE would work, an in-field cooler, like, a mini-root cellar. Cheap and quick to build: a fairly shallow trench, wood frame, insulated lid. It would take the edge off the heat and maintain humidity… Hmm…

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