The way we choose our products in the beginning were just the typical things I was growing for the family. Tomatoes, beans, zucchini and I would watch what was walking around the market and I would think well that would be a good thing to add. We start everything from seed. Generally I would choose 4 or 5 different varieties in the beginning. If something wasn’t selling very much then I would eliminate that. I wanted to provide fresh produce and salad greens to the local community. When I started the first things I planted were spinach, lettuce and different types of greens.
I wanted to be in that market of providing basically salad greens. We do a lot of beets. We also grow over 40 different crops in a given year. We have taken persimmons, garlic, mushrooms, in fact it was 2 weeks ago a couple came and bought persimmons and they weren’t that familiar with them and this last week they brought us back a couple pieces of persimmon pie. I grew chilies myself at my little house garden in town. Chilies and tomatoes, anything you have like in a normal house garden. But I really liked chilies a lot so that was what I wanted to have more of than anything else. And then I started to get seeds from various places. Friends would travel and bring me seeds back and I started to get more and more unusual varieties. And then they started swapping seeds with growers in other countries Number one I did not want to be spending my days picking hundred feet long rows of green beans. It just didn’t inspire me. Flowers inspired me aesthetically but they also can make the most per square foot on a farm if they’re well grown and then well marketed.
So for having a small farm I wanted it to be profitable enough. But it also most of all appealed to me aesthetically. We price our products probably by several means. One we’ll go and look at what the products are selling for in local grocery stores and also the local food coops. We also take walks through the market to see what other farmers are selling at. We try to get the best price for the product we offer. I actually some mornings get up and go ask a vendor. “What are you selling this for today?” Our expenses are higher per item being a small farm. Many of the customers at market, at the farmers market understand this. Our food is also higher in nutrients because we fed our soil. They’re getting more nutrients per dollar, even if they’re getting less weight per dollar.
In the beginning of the season when there’s not very much, say zucchini, in the market the price is a little higher. Time has a lot to do with it too. Like okra takes forever to pick, but you can generally charge a little bit more for it. My prices, I would say are more intuitive than scientific like this is how much it cost me to produce it and the labor to produce it so this is how much I have to charge. I ‘m not that scientific.
It’s intuitive, but I think it pretty close. It’s also very expensive to run this farm. Our flower bouquets are generally the most expensive at any market. I believe they’re worth it. I think my customers believe that too. I pay my people well. And it’s working. If it wasn’t working I’d be forced to price lower and absorb it. But it is working. We rarely come from a market with anything left. .