A Gardener’s Dream: How to Start Selling Your Own Produce

Like many home gardeners, you may have never considered gardening for money. Perhaps you thought the gardening business wasn’t for you and, therefore, only intended to grow a garden to feed your family. However, a few months or years down the road you’ve decided you want to make a little extra money from your home grown produce. Whether you’ve always wanted to make money from your passion of growing plants, vegetables, and fruits or you’re just looking to sell the extra produce that you can’t preserve in time, sharing your homegrown bounties with other people can be immensely rewarding.

The demand for locally grown produce is at all-time high as more and more people in cities and rural America look to add organic, non-GMO, freshly picked vegetables and fruits to their table. Consumers prefer produce from markets that utilize sustainable products like hydroponic nutrients and practices like rotating and diversifying crops. And not surprisingly, customers are willing to pay more for high-quality produce items in the market.

That said, you should determine where to sell your home grown produce before you even start sowing your seeds in the ground. This is because different places need different produce items and may require different methods of selling. For example, a grocery store would do well with groceries and not gourmet food ventures. Rarely will you find people looking for unique and specialty items in a grocery store. Such items will do well at a high-end produce stand where people look for unique vegetables and fruits to try.

Instead of blindly selling your home grown produce, find opportunities that can help maximize your earnings. Here are five ways you can start selling your own produce: 

Spread the Word

Word-of-mouth is the easiest and cheapest way to market your home grown produce. Come up with a list of about 50 to 150 people you know in your community and spread the world to them. Include your friends, colleagues at work, family members, and neighbors. Tell them you have fresh produce to sell and would be happy to have them buy from you. You can directly market your product on social networking platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Instagram as well.

Spreading the word to your networks is one of the most effective ways to start direct sales. Some friends and family members may expect discounts or lower prices than usual, but you need to remind them you’re in business, and a good deal accommodates both parties. Like every other customer, they expect quality service. So, make sure you explain to them what to expect. 

Join the Farmer’s Market

At the farmer’s market, you’ll find producers who have traded their suits and daily commutes for independence, creativity, and hard work. A farmer’s market presents you with an opportunity to sell a little bit of your home grown produce to lots of customers in one place.

Take time to do your research on the markets in your area and find one that will serve you best. You can find the list of markets in your area from your local farmers’ market association or state Department of Agriculture. Consider selling your produce at any farmer’s market that’s located near preferred shopping areas. It should have easy access, be clean, and well-managed.

Provide customers with samples if what you’re selling is different or new from what other vendors are selling. Talking to customers and other farmers can also help you determine what’s needed/missing that you could grow and sell. Make sure you sell product varieties that local customers prefer and are familiar with. In addition, the products should be fresh and in their most desirable stage. 

Meet Local Restaurant Owners

Restaurants are increasingly sourcing for local fresh foods, presenting an opportunity for gardeners to grow and sell custom produces. And you don’t need any connections to get started. First, create a list of the local restaurants in your city and plan how you’re going to directly market your produce to them. Make sure you find out how these restaurants source their produce and develop a plan of action for the various veggies you think can help them stand out from the competition.

Restaurants with fairly large operations may need a big volume of supply. So, if you’re getting your produce from a backyard garden, then you’re better off starting with the little guys. You shouldn’t bite off more than you could chew.  Pay the chef or restaurant owner a visit with a bunch of greens or something else and discuss with them where and how you can add value to their business.

You’ll need to supply a steady amount of whatever produce you agree to for a given period of time. This means there’s no room for guesswork as you must be accurate about the amount of veggies/fruits you have and how often you will be able to supply them. Don’t be afraid to start small and gradually grow big. 

Create a Market Through the CSA

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership of mutual commitment between a local gardener or farmer and customers, whereby the benefits, risks, and responsibilities of growing plants, vegetables, and fruits, are shared. Usually, this means consumers pledge support to the farmer by buying a “share” of the season’s harvest before the growing season begins. And in return, the farmer provides them with a regular supply of the farm’s bounty.

Creating your own market through the CSA gives you an opportunity to build a strong relationship with the people who appreciate your work and eat what you produce. Furthermore, you get to receive payment for your farm’s produce early in the season, giving you a more stable and secure income.

Consumers, on the other hand, get to be closely involved in the production of their food and feel more connected to the farm where the food is being grown.

Creating a CSA isn’t as complicated as many people think. Simply, survey your friends, neighbors, and family members, understand what they would most likely want, and see if this could work with what you want to produce. And make sure you know what you want to raise, how much you can raise annually, and the cost you’re likely to incur before starting a CSA.