Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Living History Farms Farmer's Market

Another big development since I last blogged as that we have begun the Wednesday night market at the Living History Farms in earnest. As a side bar ... if you are not aware of what the Living History Farms is then I encourage you to check out the link ... it is a really cool place! So far we have set up for the "Market Preview" on the opening and and three Wednesday evenings (two of which had great weather and one that had some serious storm action going on so we were inside). Here are some of my thoughts after just a few weeks ...
  • Probably the thing I love most about setting up at the market is the chance to interact with people. Not everybody I talk to purchases something (it seems like I chat with a few vegetarians each time), but it does give me the opportunity to share the farm and the reasons behind the way I farm. Plus I figure that each person I talk to gives me just that much more experience.
  • Setting up a display that catches peoples eye when all you are selling is frozen meat (that is hidden away in coolers) is a bit difficult. I think that we have a nice table with plenty of pictures and information, but we have a lot of people just wander by or others that stop but don't realize we have pork for sale! Hopefully some of that will be remedied by a new ten foot long vinyl sign that I'm having made. I am open for suggestions though!
  • Farmer's Markets have a lot more crafts than I would have guessed. Our market is small and in only it's second year, but there are a couple knit/sewing vendors and sometimes even three jewelry vendors. Plus, you have to remember there are only 17'ish vendors set up now. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, just something I didn't realize.
  • I think I'm coming to realize that garden produce is important. So far there hasn't been much available at the market and I think that keeps some people away ... even though I have great pork for sale each week! It will be interesting to see how things shake out as the garden harvest begins.
  • The Living History Farms is a very cool place featuring the agricultural history of Iowa in a hands on sort of way and with small-scale working farms. With that in mind I think this market has the potential to be equally as cool. Because they have staff on site they are able to offer pretty cool demonstrations and there has even been live music on two different Wednesdays. One thing to look forward to that I believe the blacksmith will be making an appearance this summer.
  • The biggest thing that I've come to learn so far is that I have a lot to learn! A lot to learn about marketing and setting up, but also just about the best way to go about things at the market. The best way to fill the coolers ... the best way to add up the purchases ... the best way to handle the transactions quickly ... and so much more. Plus, I've also learned it's nice if you don't forget stuff :: I'll work on that ;)

13 comments:

Teresa said...

I'm surprised there aren't already people with produce. Some of the early crops should be getting ready by now. The fresh veggies are a huge draw. It's been a while since I did the farmer's market, but I always loved meeting and talking to people.

elizabeth said...

We sell our rare breed, free range pork at Farmers' Markets here in Australia. I still put frozen pork out on display. As long as you rotate your stock so that it remains frozen it isn't a problem!

Well done!

Art Blomquist said...

Do a supermarket trick and have small BBQ to fill the place with porkifikness!

Isaac said...

My mother used to sell floral arrangements at the des moines farmers market.

The biggest thing is if people can see your product, it will draw them to it. For floral arrangements, that was fairly easy since they are made to be a display item as well as the product.

Something I was thinking you could do is bring a small piglet, or when you get a chicken operation going, some chicks. It would be hard to handle as well as annoying, but if you displayed it correctly it would put up a good show. Relate it to the state fair, everyone has to go see the pig barn to see the piglets right?

RichardBoulianne said...

Thanks for this blog!

We are in the process of selling our suburban home in Ottawa, Canada and looking for 50 or so acres.... we might rent a home for a bit.

Your blog is amazing and I've not stopped all night reading on your life experience. (and I'm still in 2007!!)

We have a market close to home and I noticed produce is lacking and I seem to skip the Elk meat stand a lot!

Thanks for this blog - I have no family in farming, my wife has some vegi farming family members in the Ukraine so our jump will be very interesting.

I'm looking at the books you read along the way.... I have been looking for the content in those for a few months now ...

you rock

Richard

commoncents said...

Just wanted to say I really like your blog - keep up the great work!!

Steve
Common Cents
http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

kitchen table said...

We have this little farm and we have pigs and chicken. Once a month they are selling pork in the market and they keep pork frozen. Your blog is well written.

Maureen said...

I think it's great what you're doing! In my country (Holland) are a lott of farmers but the new genaration won't be farmer. I wise you a lott of succes!

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Walter Jeffries said...

"I think I'm coming to realize that garden produce is important. So far there hasn't been much available at the market and I think that keeps some people away"

Agreed. This is why we don't do a farm stand. It doesn't make sense to have people coming out here just to buy one thing - our pork. We're off the beaten path. For us what works is we sell to stores and restaurants and then they 'man the booth' so to speak.

John said...

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Marjori said...

Hi, Used to have a business of my own and one of the best ways to promote it was free samples. Maybe you could prepare a couple dishes, say Pork fried rice(w/veggies)and pullled Pork BBQ, offered in 2oz. cups etc. Good luck, wish I lived nearby so I could buy some, it sounds great. We used to raise pigs long time ago, once threw a party just before election-time, pit roasted (mesquite wood) 3/4's of a pig. The keg ran out by 2:00pm, all the meat was gone by 3:30pm and a week later my mom was elected Justice of the Peace!
Keep up the good work!
Marji

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