The trend to eat locally has created an increased demand for home-grown fruits and vegetables. Restaurants and grocery store chains work with local growers to obtain fresh ingredients for their customers. As a result, interest in shopping directly from the farmer--either through farmer's markets, farm shares or farm stands--is becoming very popular. As a small farmer, you can capitalise on this interest by finding venues to sell your home-grown products to consumers and businesses.
Find out if you need a special permit
Contact your local government to determine if you need a special license or permit to sell your home-grown fruits and vegetables--a necessity for growers in some locations. Depending on where you plan on selling your produce, you may also need to obtain a vendor permit.
Locate farmer's markets in your area to inquire about selling your home-grown fruits and vegetables. One resource for finding farmer's markets is Local Harvest, an online resource where you can search for farms, farmer's markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) in your area.
Set up a roadside farm stand and advertise the home-grown products that you have available. This can be a good way to develop relationships with local buyers who are seeking fresh, local produce. Be prepared to answer questions about your products and your growing practices.
Take your products on the road and offer fresh produce from the bed of a pickup truck. This type of operation may require a transient vendor license from your town, so make sure you contact them first. In busy locations, this can be an effective and inexpensive way to sell your home-grown goods.
Determine if your growing operation is large enough to become a reliable supplier for local restaurants. If so, pick some samples of your best produce and bring them to the chefs at a few local restaurants as a free sample of your goods. Many chefs are eager to develop relationships with local growers--especially those who offer outstanding products at reasonable prices. Loyalty is also very important, so make sure you can bring them what they need, when they need it.
Get the community involved in your farm by creating a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation. CSA farms offer "farm shares" to the community for a fee that is determined by the farm. Once individuals sign up and pay their fee for the season, they will receive a weekly supply of fresh, seasonal produce from your farm.