Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Market Sort-of-Ready

Watermelon patch view: popcorn on right, squash on left
Second Chance Ranch produce - is it market-ready? Well, yes and no.

Yes, because the local Farmer's Market (in Cavalier, Pop. 1,302) started last Thursday and I certainly had the most produce of any vendor there. I brought three kinds of lettuce - Romaine, Buttercrunch and Marvel of Four Seasons - plus two kinds of spinach (Lavewa and Monstrueux de Viroflay), plus Lemon basil, cilantro and onions. Not much, but enough to kick off the season.

Gotta move those heads!
There were just four vendors and most had brought baked goods - always a big seller. I always get nervous about how much to pull for the market - too much and you've got leftover produce; not enough and you are missing sales. It's a tricky deal and I worry about it all market-day long. Still, I was so proud of my lettuce heads, they were so massive, so green and so beautiful! I felt like a proud mama, albeit, one that is willing to sell off her babies for $3 a pop.

Lettuce bed
Bonus, there was a sweet little girl there named Shelby who sold me an Orange Soda cupcake for 75 cents:


I ended up making about $42, which is a healthy start. Tomorrow's market should be bigger as they are having an annual Art in the Park thingamaroo with music, games, hot dogs and the like. Hopefully, it will bring in more people; the biggest challenge here in these parts is not enough customers. 

Western half, coming in thick!
SO, on my way back from Fargo last week, I stopped in Grand Forks at my favorite NoDak organic grocery store, Amazing Grains, to inquire about their produce needs. Some fellow organic farmers (Shelby's parents, actually) had mentioned that they might need some local spinach. 

Mind you, I was just curious about it. Well, in about five minutes, I had a deal with the produce manager, Rex, to deliver spinach. Currently, they sell spinach shipped from California and would much prefer to sell locally grown. I scribbled down a few of their needs (baby spinach, loose leaf, 20 lbs. a week, triple-washed, deliver in 2 lb. bags) and told Rex I'd follow up by phone. He is open to starting out with even a 4-lb.-per-week delivery but would like to schedule a "tasting" with his staff since I have so many varieties.

Reality is, I don't think I can fulfill this order. I've got lots of spinach but most is large leaf varieties and the one baby leaf I've planted (Bourdeaux) hasn't shown up yet. Plus, do you know how much spinach it would take to make 20 pounds? Or even 4 lbs.? A LOT. 

How would I weigh it? Where do I find 2 lb. bags? Would the money I make even cover the petrol cost of the 190.6 mile round-trip weekly delivery drive?

Sadly, the answers are 1) I don't know 2) I have no idea and 3) Not likely. 

Eastern half, including the fancy new water tank!

Looks like I'm too big for the little market and still too little for the big market.  Still, it's encouraging to know how easily I can get my produce into stores here and that there is definitely a market for organic produce in the land of industrial farming.


Anonymous said...

What an opportunity! Maybe you should do one of those Internet fundraising things where you describe your project/ need and people donate.

Your do Great!


Anonymous said...

What an opportunity! Maybe you should do one of those Internet fundraising things where you describe your project/ need and people donate.

Your do Great!


Heather Clisby said...

Yes, crowdfunding. I have thought of that. I keep an eye on Kickstarter for that very reason. It's something I think about.

And to your other thought (via email), I would love to do a CSA or co-op but again, this is a challenge due to the fact that most people - what few there are around here - have gardens.

Brent dropped off a scale for me the other day so that one issue resolved. It's fun to see what obstacles get in my way and figuring out a way around, under or over them.