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  • How to Start Selling Market Garden Produce

    December 26, 2023 7 min read 0 Comments

    How to Start Selling Market Garden Produce

    Getting Started Selling Market Garden Produce

    Whether you have an acre of garlic or a diversified market garden, selling produce on a small scale has become a popular trend all across the globe. There are lots of options as to where you can sell it. Here, we’ll review some basics, tips and tricks for pricing your products and what sales avenue might work best for you. 

    Where Should You Sell Your Produce?

    Before you jump on one of these sales avenues, ask yourself these questions:

    • What is my commitment level? 
    • How much am I willing to spend on marketing items and vendor fees? 
    • Do I have enough produce to sell each week/month?
    • Do delivery days fit into my schedule? 
    • Who are my customers and what is the demand? 

    Rules and regulations to consider: 

    • Local selling permits in your town or city 
    • Wash/pack requirements 
    • Record-keeping, taxes based on your gross sales 
    • Contact your local Division of Weights and Measures if you are selling produce by weight. 
    • Liability insurance covers you if someone gets injured on your farm while working or picking up produce or becomes ill after consuming your produce. 

    Once you have considered these factors, decide which of the following might be right for you. Then, come up with a marketing plan and strategize your upcoming growing season. 

    How to Sell Market Garden Produce

    Some great advice I received when I began my farming career is “Don’t grow what you can’t sell.” Otherwise, you end up with gorgeous, locally grown, fresh vegetables with no home, and you’ve made no money. I like to hustle as much as the next person, but farming is hard work, and there’s money out there to be made. 

    Let’s dive into ways you can sell your garden produce. 


    They’re not just for large farming operations anymore! Attract members by offering a discount when paid in full within a specific timeframe. Members pay farmers in advance, typically in the winter months. Use the funds to order seeds, soil, and other necessary supplies to start your season. Pro tip: Ask members to trade farm work for a weekly share box. 

    The original CSA model included boxing up the same items for every member each week. This is the simplest way to distribute fairly and ensure you aren’t left with a whole pile of the same thing. This type of CSA can be picked up at the farm, delivered to customers, or left at a prearranged pick up spot like your local coffee shop.

    However, many growers today have switched to a point system. Each item is assigned points and members are invited to shop freely within these parameters. This gives members more flexibility and less chance they’ll end up with items they dislike that go to waste. It does require a detailed online ordering system or organized pick up location. 

    If you have a garage, barn, or protected outdoor space, put out black crates, bushels, or buckets of produce and make some signs. Assign a day and times for pick-ups and print a list of your members so you can keep track. Seeing these folks each week and cultivating relationships with your supporters makes all your hard work worth it! 

    farm stand with produce stacked


    If you live in a small town or have an easily accessible property in a safe area, you may have the perfect place for an on-site farm stand. 

    Benefits of a farm stand:

    • Set days and times you’re open 
    • No additional fees to incur
    • People come to you 
    • No wasted time transporting crops 
    • Conveniently located 
    • Less work for the same reward

    Alternatively, you can connect with a roadside farm stand already in existence and inquire about their needs. They may want your freshly picked produce to sell at their stand, no strings attached!


    Do you frequent a local coffee shop, country store, or health food store? Make friends with the owners and inquire about hosting a weekly or monthly pop-up farmers’ market. Ask them to hang signs up and share the event on social media. Their customers become your customers. 


    If you’re somewhat technologically savvy, try building your own website where you can direct interested parties to purchase your produce. Or, simply post on social media what you have, how much it costs, and when they can come by to buy it. Paying at the time of purchase is probably best to ensure it’s picked up. 


    One of our favorite parts about growing food is working with chefs. Meet with them in the fall or winter before seed ordering and during your downtime. This allows them to get to know you and learn about what you grow, letting you both decide if it is a good fit to work together. 

    Find chefs who create seasonal menus and are passionate about local food. Elevate them by advertising their use of local ingredients and ask that they do the same for you regarding your growing practices and stellar produce. 


    If you have an abundance of garlic or are confident you can supply a certain amount of greens each week, sell to local grocers. Remember that you’ll likely need to invest in washing, packing, and marketing supplies such as bags and stickers and that your prices should reflect those additional costs. 


    Suppose you haven’t made the right connections yet or don’t feel like jumping through all the hoops required to sell at a farmers’ market or your local food co-op. Connect with other people who grow and make items you don’t, such as raw milk, eggs, bread, yarn, or services like lawn care and snow plowing. Make friends with people who do the things you don’t and trade! Sometimes, that’s worth more than the cash you might leave a market with. 


    Many Americans live within a relatively short distance of multiple farmers’ markets, and there may be one nearby in need of a produce vendor. Speak to the market manager or board of directors and inquire about their needs. There is likely an application and approval process, along with small weekly or annual fees. Selling at farmers’ markets is fun, sustainable, and a great way to get to know your direct sales customers.

    If you’re thinking about selling at a farmers’ market and need help with your booth setup, check out our blog post about it. 


    Food hubs are gaining traction across America. They’re an incredible way to ensure everyone has access to healthy, affordable food, that the local food movement is elevated, and that growers are paid for their products. You can read more about How Food Hubs Help Get Produce to Market in this article.  You can also click here to see if there’s one registered near you although not all food hubs are listed on this site.


    If you haven’t moved all your products and don’t want to see them go to waste, reach out to local food pantries and community kitchens to donate. Some gleaners will even come to you and pick it straight from the field. 


    Wherever you decide to sell your produce, don’t forget to brand it. How to do it right: 

    • Put a logo on everything.
    • Mark clearly with your name.
    • Got a website? Add it. 
    • Have a Contact Us section, including an email or phone number. 
    • Add social media handles so customers can easily find and follow you. 

    Getting stickers made with all the above information is a time and energy saver. There are several online companies that create customized stickers and other marketing items. Many offer daily deals that fit every budget to help you get started. 


    Growing produce is hard work. Setting proper pricing will ensure you get paid appropriately and that your time and efforts are worth it. Don’t forget to take into account your costs of production. Start by researching local farmers’ markets, speaking with other market vendors, finding similar setups on social media, and asking friends and family what they would pay for specific items. Go to local food co-ops and look for similar products and take note of prices and whether they’re sold per pound or unit. 

    Many growers underprice their products because they’re afraid of pricing out customers. Remember, your produce is highly valued, especially for people who don’t have the ability or time to grow their own. If at least one or two people in each market aren’t saying your prices are too high, it may indicate you’re underpricing. 

    Don’t be afraid to change prices mid-season either. If you grow in a heated tunnel and get tomatoes to market before anyone else, set these at a higher price. They’re a hot commodity! Growing late-season patty pan squash after everyone else has moved on to kale and spinach? That may also get you top dollar. 

    Pro tips for pricing at the market: 

    • DO mark every item clearly and boldly. Customers don’t love asking for prices. 
    • DO have a two-for or three-for deal on items you want to move a lot of. For example, herbs $3 each or 3 for $8. 
    • DO offer bulk deals during the peak season of squash, tomatoes, etc. 
    • DO use even numbers, rounding up or down to the nearest $0.25 if selling by weight. 
    • But DON’T lower prices unless you have to. 
    • DON’T be afraid to be the have the highest price
    • DON’T undercut your competitors. Look at them as cooperators and partners instead of competitors. 

    Take note of what sold well on certain weeks at the market. Maybe basil sells better when you display it next to the tomatoes with a recipe card for Caprese. Or perhaps jalapeños sell better when placed next to onions and tomatoes and offered at a bundle price. 


    The meaning of “organic” has shifted as farmers have attempted to “take it back”. For many small-scale growers, the cost of organic certification is cost-prohibitive and may be unnecessary. Selling organic produce does not require you to be organically certified; you just have to convey your growing practices to your customers. Follow organic standards, provide transparency to your customers, and show them how you grow. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to gain their trust.

    There are also farmer-run programs like Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) that require peer-to-peer reviews and whose fees are much lower. Different states have different rules for labeling food “organic,” so check the regulations in your area before you make up your signs. 


    If you’ve got fresh produce, there’s a sales outlet for it. Do some groundwork on what options are in your area and learn about local rules and regulations. Then, start enjoying your extra side hustle earnings.

    By Jenna Rich