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Sell Your Surplus With a Farmstand

Is your homestead overflowing with fresh produce, eggs or meat? Bravo! Learn how to sell vegetables, eggs and other extras at a farmstand or local farmers market.

| June/July 2013

  • With an honor-box system, a farmstand's products should be clearly priced, and shoppers are trusted to pay the right amount for their goods. Providing paper bags or boxes is a helpful touch.
    Illustration By Elayne Sears
  • Try parking a produce-loaded truck near a busy corner to sell sweet corn, melons and other farm-fresh “bumper” crops.
    Illustration By Elayne Sears
  • Attract shoppers to your stand with quality products, creative packaging and clearly labeled prices.
    Illustration By Elayne Sears

Well-cared-for gardens, orchards and livestock can be amazingly — sometimes exhaustingly — productive. After all, there’s only so much fruit and produce you have time to can and space to store. And only so many eggs you can eat, milk you can drink and meat you can make room for in the freezer. When you find you’ve temporarily produced more than you can consume, why not do what small farmers have always done? Sell your extra products at a farmstand or farmers market, or barter, trade or donate what you can’t use.

Setting Up a Farmstand

Getting started selling vegetables and extra goods is simple. “Tap the network you already have,” says Mary Shepherd, editor of the bimonthly magazine Farmers’ Markets Today. “Put up a sign at work, send an email or put a post on Facebook.” You can also consider posting an ad on the ‘Farm + Garden’ category at

If your road gets enough traffic and you have a handy parking spot, try to sell products right from your home. You can make your own farmstand for selling eggs, vegetables and more by putting your offerings on a table next to an “honor box” for payment. Just be sure to bolt the box to something secure. Promote your farmstand with a sign in your yard, an ad in the local paper or flyers at local cafés.

Another option would be to park a produce-loaded truck near a busy corner to sell sweet corn, melons or other goods. In many small towns, you may be able to get permission to park your “portable produce stand” in the parking lot of the post office, courthouse or another central building.

Farmers Markets, Big and Small

If you’re thinking about someday expanding your business, start by selling a few weeks’ worth of surplus products at the small, outlying farmers markets for which the organizers are often craving vendors, suggests Charlie Touchette, executive director of the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association (NAFDMA). The smaller markets come with an entire support network, including the opportunity to sell alongside people who have been doing this for a while.

On the other hand, larger farmers markets are often more stringent about who can sell, and they usually charge a fee for an assigned space. “Go to the market manager and ask what the rules are,” Shepherd says. “Some markets will have a community table where you could possibly bring produce in a certain week of the month.” Asking a regular vendor to sell your produce doesn’t often work, Shepherd says, because many markets prohibit vendors from selling things they didn’t produce themselves, and vendors may be leery of taking your word on your growing procedures.

8/3/2014 4:08:19 PM

yes, also noticed the link is wrong for

7/31/2014 6:02:20 PM

You don't cover insurance much - our insurance agent is recommenting both general libility AND product liability insurance for the vendors at our fledling market. The general liability is easy to provide as an umbrella policy, but the product liability seems to have much stricter regulations and a higher price tag. What are your thoughts on the two types?

8/14/2013 11:52:37 AM

Thanks for supplying the correct link redleif.



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