First Farmer’s Market and Lessons Learned
Stefan Holt, SCA Farmer
15 June 2017
Our first Farmers’ Market! Woohoo! Boy, did we learn alot. Not only about the Fountain Inn Farmers’ Market but how different it is being on the other side of the produce buying experience. Wow! We learn so much from our customers and from the market staff.
First Farmers’ Market
Photo taken in Fountain Inn, SC May 2017

The Market

It wasn’t very difficult to get into the Fountain Inn Farmers’ Market. At first, I didn’t think I should participate. I’m a first year farmer. I am still figuring out my succession planting. Did I buy the right seeds? Will people even buy our produce? OMG! What the heck am I doing!? type questions fluttered through my head. When it came right down to it, I told myself to just go for it and don’t forget to solicit the help of your kids!

There were a few basic things I knew I was going to need (in addition to the actual produce.) I was going to need a few tables. Coolers. Pop-up tent. Balloons. and a few other marketing related items to make the table look full. That’s right “look full.” You see. I had not really prepared to be at the market so I didn’t back date my crop planning. So all that I had to bring at this market was a minimal amount of arugula, lettuce, and radishes. Yep, only enough to fit in two coolers. Thank goodness this was a very small market! As you can see from the pictures, not a big spread by any stretch. For SCA Farms, this was a blessing in disguise.

We quickly learned that some of the locals wanted to know more about us. How we planted. What we planted. And on and on. Although we didn’t sell much in produce (I believe it was less than a $100,) we benefited from being there in getting our story right.

Engaging with customers about who we were, what we grew and how we grew it. It gave me an opportunity to tell people about the process and allowed them to buy into not only the product but us as a farm and farmers. My kids were awesome! They not only picked up on what I was telling folks but started to say the same things to customers when I wasn’t there at the tent. Great experience for them and for me, in allowing them to run independently. If you ever wanted to test your kids ability to think on their feet, put them in an uncomfortable position in which they have no way out. No excuses. No running away. They have to perform. Pass or Fail. What a great life lesson.

Again, we didn’t make a lot of sales that day but we gained a lot of experience.

Lessons Learned

Some of the things we learned in attending the market.

Lesson One: Location is key!

Take a look here. This was not the spot we were intended to maintain but the staff in charge told us that someone else took our spot and she didn’t want to make them move. Not cool but second lesson learned.

Lesson Two: Get there early – so nobody takes your spot!

Lesson three: Know Foot Traffic Patterns – you have to know where people begin and where they end

This isn’t a big lesson because most markets are linear but in our case it made a huge difference. Here’s why.

 

 

 

“Lesson Two: Get there early – so nobody takes your spot!”
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