Saturday, October 27, 2007

Self Serve Farm Stand

We had our first self serve farm stand this year. We planted a bigger garden just for the purpose of selling the surplus at the road side. When we decided to do that we didn’t know it was going to be a self serve stand. We didn’t decide that until the last minute.

As it went the self serve part was a good decision since people weren’t exactly wearing the road out to come to the stand. Now, there was a pretty good flow of customers but, there was a lot of dead times too. If one of us would have been sitting out there manning the stand it would have been a boring job.

I built a couple of shelters this summer. We were going to buy one of those accordion style collapsible jobs. But, then we saw that they sold replacement tops for those, so I thought why not build the frame myself and just buy the top. We were able to build two for the price of one of the store bought models. We also used them for rummage sales this summer. Worked out pretty good. Just had to watch out for rain water collecting in the top and weighing the thing down. And high winds didn’t do the tops any favors either. I don’t believe the store bought frames would have held up out here with the winds we get, so a wooden frame was a good choice.

The first couple days the stand was up we didn’t sell a thing. That was a little discouraging. We kind of spread the word that if anyone else had stuff to sell we’d be glad to include it with ours. So we added maple syrup and other products from our friends the Burns’ who are in the maple syrup business. Some other friends had some hand made bags to sell and some neighbors had sweet corn.

The sweet corn kicked off the stand with a bang. When people saw that they started coming in and they bought other stuff as well. Another neighbor brought some decorated corn stalks also. In all with everyone contributing what ever they had we ended up selling more. The sweet corn really helped. Our daughter made some gift items which added to everything. She sold a few things but, the fresh produce was what people were after.

We had carrots, green beans, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, apples, pumpkins, peppers and probably a couple other things I can’t think of at the moment. The carrots were really tasty and a guy who we called the carrot man kept coming back for those. When we were all done with the garden we had an 8 lb. bag left over for him that we weren’t going to put up for ourselves. So he came to get them with a smile and said he’d be back next year.

We also sold some broiler chickens to a lady who came to the stand. Kelli had opportunity to talk to a few of the folks as she would go out and restock through out the day.

Pretty much this was an experiment to see what kind of interest there might be in our area for fresh food. There was enough interest that we are encouraged to keep on doing this. It seems that for those who understand the benefits of fresh food, that isn’t laden with poisons and artificial junk, are 100% on board. No sales pitch required.

We didn’t have the stand open everyday and that might of discouraged some sales. During inclement weather it wasn’t open but, we figured people wouldn’t be wanting to stop in the rain anyway. All together the stand was open 16 days and we brought in over $400. I converted an old tool box into a money box. Cut a slot in the top and added a padlock and simply screwed the box to the table.

We’ve sold eggs at the road side in the past, self serve style and it always warms us inside to think that there are still so many honest folks out there. Of course where we come from, a self serve stand would never fly. I believe back there they’d take the stand and all. I remember when we used to have rummage sales back in IL and a time or two people even stole our rummage sale signs. That kind of thing kind of gives a person a negative out look towards people. But, so far up here there still are plenty of decent folks.

We got all our broiler chickens butchered up and the pigs are going in this week to get done. I entertained the thought of processing our own pigs this time but, I changed my mind on that. There’s a reputable butcher we’ve used in the past and it’s awful nice to just take them there and come back later and it’s all nicely put together in clean little packages. Not that I don’t want to give it a try myself sometime. But, butchering pigs is something I’m not very familiar with. Never bothered to educate myself on it.

I saw a video years ago where a couple older southern gentleman were butchering a pig and the thing was just covered in flies. Kind of turned me off to looking into it any further. One thing I like about where we live is you can butcher in cooler weather and flies aren’t a problem around here then. So some day if I live long enough I might butcher a pig.

I have lots of interests and there are a lot of things I’d like to do that I might never end up doing. Like this farm stand we wanted to do something like that for a long time and just now managed to actually do it. There’s things we want to do and things we feel that we are called to do. It’s nice when the Lord lets us do what we want. And we can be assured that if we are called to do something then it will surely come to pass one day. Might not be when we think but, it’ll happen if we just put it in the Lords hands.

Until Next Time


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outstanding! Wish I lived close enough to buy a bottle of that maple syrup! Glad that's worked out so well for both you and the folks who benefit from the healthy food your family grows.

I recently watched John Mesko's hog-butchering dvd from Lighthouse Farms. As we did when I was a kid, they waited until cold weather in order to avoid the contamination from flies and the spoilage from heat. Though folks' decisions on which parts to keep and which to discard will differ (mine and the Meskos' did), it's a great dvd to watch - if for no other reason than to remind us that animals are here for our use.


12:52 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Hi James,

I could mail you a bottle of maple syrup if you would like.

I haven't seen the Mesko's video yet but plan to purchase it eventually. I signed up with their Authentic Agriculture the other day.

I want to support the educational aspects of what they are doing. I think it is important for those who are seeking an agrarian life to get a good start right from the beginning. It's so easy to waste alot of time with unproductive methods by trying to figure it all out on ones own. The Mesko's are doing it right it looks like.


4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well that's very generous of you, Russ! Thank you, and I'll take you up on the offer.

I'd offer to reciprocate with a jar of my homemade pear butter, but, being my first attempt at making and canning it, it really wasn't anything to write home about. I hope to do a better job of it next fall, however, and will send you a jar then if you like. :-)


10:14 AM  

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