Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My First Farmer's Market!

Well, we did it. :-D It was not the grandest farmer's market offering ever.  It was a sincere effort though, and I think the first one was memorable and wonderful and a stepping stone to greater things.

Dave was gone from Friday evening till Sunday afternoon with our only car. So, I had to rush home from work and get the farthest gardens harvested so I could use the car to transport the goodness back to my kitchen.

After Dave was off on his way, I got everything washed and trimmed and put into bags* and back in the fridge.  Then I harvested the home garden, and processed those vegetables. Then I started to try to figure out how me, the produce and my two small boys could all get to the farmers market ~ 1 mile away. I called some friends, but none of them could make it work. So, I quit looking for fossil fueled methods and started looking at what I had.  What I had was a sturdy wagon.  So, I grabbed the pop-up cooler, (It's round with spiral supports and it flattens down to a disc when not in use.) and checked that it would fit in the center of the wagon. It fit! So, then I checked my display baskets in the wagon, and picked out 3 of them that fit well and looked good.

Saturday morning I was up early, and left the boys in bed. I got the produce out of the fridge and into the cooler. I got some breakfast for me and boys made and packed into the wagon, along with the diaper bag and toy bag.  And if it sounds like there was more bags than vegetables in the wagon...well that's not far off.  I woke the boys, did some potty/diaper time, and then sent them straight out to the wagon. We left the house around 7:45, 15 minutes later than I had hoped, but still really damn good for a first market day with 2 under 4.

Rowen was so sweet and helpful! I was worried the early hour would leave him crabby, but he surprised me. Logan was his usual cheerful self, and quite happy to be strapped to me in the sling.
So off we went, and I imagine we were quite the sight.  Me with the 1 year old in a sling on my hip, pulling the wagon which was overflowing with baskets and bunches of green. Trailed by a 4 year old jabbering away about everything.

We made it to the farmers market right at 8am, and were set up by 8:05, the only plus side to the tiny offering and wagon-setup.  I giggled at Sue's pronouncement that she had already made 3$. And got the boys settled in the grass with their breakfast of toast and milk. My breakfast was coffee and toast crusts, I'll have to work on that next week.

Sue and I ended up being the only two sellers for the opening weekend of the farmers market in LeMars. Which was disappointing. But, it means my suspicions are accurate about the dire state of the market, and it means I was 100% right to push forward with my own market selling attempt. (To compare, a few years ago there were a half dozen regular sellers.)

I made one sale, my first sale! I sold a bag of the May Queen lettuce, (gorgeous stuff, so tasty and such pretty little heads,) for 2$. Thanks to Mama Pat for the seed. :)

*Why bags? you may be asking. Well, here's my thinking. Give customers what they want. The average American buys produce in plastic bags at the store, the average citizen in LeMars won't bring a reusable bag to the farmers market. Plastic is what they are used to. By washing and trimming and bagging things like lettuce, I may be skirting the edge of what I'm legally allowed to do, but it gets the produce into a state that's comfortable to the customer. It makes the high cost produce I'm offering closer to the convenience vegetables they are used to seeing in the super market.

The boys had a surprisingly good time.  I shouldn't be surprised, they both love outdoors, I planned for food and drink and toys, of course they had a good time. Rowen had a couple of conversations with Sue that I think both enjoyed.  From the adult side, it was nice to have kids to play with in the long spells between customers.

Next week I'm looking forward to bringing a table and the pop-up shelter. I'll probably not bring a ton more in the way of veggies, not until I start seeing more customers.  I will bring my cloth goods though, just to have more on display.  I need to touch base with the local food pantry too, and see if they would be interested in unsold produce, I can't make enough soup to keep up if no one is going to buy anything.

Speaking of, that's what I did this week, I'm calling it Farmer's Market Soup.

Farmer's Market Soup 7/6
4 cups of water
1 bunch of swiss chard, torn from spines and roughly chopped
1 bunch of green onions, diced and divided in two piles
4 garlic scapes, chopped to green bean size.
1 kohlrabi, skinned and shopped.
2-3 carrots chopped
1 can of white northern beans
1 can chicken stock
1/2 pound of beef

Bring salted water to a simmer, add the kohlrabi, scapes, carrots and half the green onions, simmer for 4-5 minutes or until things are soft.
Brown beef in a skillet, with half the green onions and some salt/pepper. Set aside.
Add beans and chicken stock to simmering water. Simmer for 5 or so until the beans are nice and soft. Add in the beef and the chopped swiss chard. Simmer until the chard is soft. Done.

Family loved it. And it's a big batch of soup, we're still eating on it 4 days later.

That's all for now.
- Jennie


J said...

Good job all around Jennie - so proud of you and all of your hard work and ingenuity.

Lisa Crum said...

Great post Jennie! Your determination to make this work makes me smile. If you could manage it & wanted to add to your customer base, Sioux City has a pretty decent market going on Wed & Sat mornings. I bet they would welcome new vendors...

Jon Lorisen said...

That's amazing! Good for you, you are setting a great example.