The best vegetables for your market garden depend on who your main customers will be and what they want. Consider if you will be selling produce at farmers' markets, as a you-pick operation, wholesale or another format. Some market gardens offer a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in which customers pay to receive a weekly box of seasonal vegetables. The trick is striking a balance between meeting demand, making a profit and, of course, growing high quality vegetables.
If you want your toil in the garden to be worthwhile, grow vegetables that meet the demand of your customer base. Overall, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, corn, carrots, cabbage, onions and sweet potatoes are the most preferred vegetables among American consumers. However, demand varies by geographic region. For example, the most popular crops for the Hitt family farm near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, are peppers, flowers, tomatoes and lettuce. Another way to meet demand is to grow and sell sought-after vegetables that are not available from other local market gardens. Hitt farm has benefited this way by growing leafy greens such as leeks and rapini, produce that is not being sold by other local businesses. By talking to local customers, growers and businesses, you can find out what the local demand is.
The most profit can be made from selling herbs and greens when taking into consideration the amount of space required and the cost of growing, according to Kitchen Gardeners. More specifically, Kitchen Gardeners' top 10 list of most profitable vegetables are cilantro, arugula, salad mix, chives, dill, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, turnips and standard-size tomatoes. These are general estimates. The most profitable vegetables for your market garden depends on the customers' demands.
A key marketing technique as a future market gardener sometimes involves filling a niche that is lacking in your region. Perhaps you want to cater to health-conscious consumers. In this case, the highest ranked nutritional vegetables in terms of vitamin and mineral content are broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, lima beans, peas and asparagus, according Bellevue College. If you are considering starting a Community Supported Agriculture program, CSA customers will be expecting variety. For example, Harmony Valley Farm in Wisconsin provides its customers with approximately 50 different fruits and vegetables throughout the whole season. Produce in each weekly box depends on seasonality.
Cool-season vegetables can be planted in the spring and the fall. Examples include beets, broccoli, carrots, chives, rutabagas, lettuce, onions, parsley and peas. If you are growing cool-season crops, consider planting them in the spring and fall in different areas of your market garden for increased profits.
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- University of Minnesota Extension: How to Sell Your Crops - Marketing
- University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service: 4-H Vegetable Gardening Project
- Bellevue College: Vegetables
- Life in the USA: Fruits and Vegetables in America
- University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service: Organic Farming in Kentucky
- Kitchen Gardeners: What Are the Best Vegetables to Grow For Profit