Farmer's markets are a way for homesteaders and gardeners to make money from all of their hard work. The problem is that all of the local farmers in your area will be at these farmer's market, and that means you have to stand out in the crowd. While it's fantastic to see a large group of farmer's selling to customers who want to support local growers, you have to figure out how to make money at a farmer's market.
When I decided to sell at a farmer’s market, I knew I had to stand out because I wanted to go and make money. Going and not being successful wasn’t an option; I’m stubborn like that.
So, I visited all of our local farmer’s markets for weeks in the year before I planned to start selling. I looked at what other farmer’s sold, their prices, what their stands looked like, and more. More specifically, I looked for what was missing at our local farmer’s markets to determine what niche I could fill.
Then, I came up with some ideas on how to make money at a farmer’s market. Now, I'm sharing my hard-won insight with you!
How to Make Money at the Farmer’s Market
1. Sell Your Fruits and Veggies
We start with the most obvious choice – selling your surplus fruits and vegetables that you grow at home. First, you need to keep enough for your family, and then you can sell the rest.
Most farmer's start with this because it's easy. You're already gardening and growing food, so why not just pack it up and sell it at the farmer's market? If the crowd is large enough and your price your produce correctly, you could make a decent income just selling the typical vegetables and fruits that are found at any farmer's market.
2. Grow & Sell Unique Crops
As I shopped my local farmer’s market, I noticed that it greatly lacked unique crops. I saw dozens of red and pink tomatoes, but no one was selling orange or black tomatoes. Those would stand out in the crowd.
I saw tons of baskets of green zucchini, but no one sold white zucchini, which is a personal favorite of mine. Purple green beans, cucamelons, unusual hot peppers, variegated tomatoes, mixed greens, and colored radishes all stand out next to the typical ones you find.
Pay attention to what is missing at the market, as well. At my local farmer's market, I didn't see any kohlrabi or fresh fennel. No one sold turnips or rutabagas. Fresh carrots were lacking; they sold out in a flash, and people wanted more.
Your goal should be to fill in the gaps and pick up where others are slacking off to make money at a farmer’s market.
3. Sell Bagged Vegetables with Recipe Cards
When I shop at the local grocery store, I can't help but be tempted by those boxes of quick, fresh dinners. Everything you need is put into a box with a recipe card. You go home, toss it into a skillet, and call it a day.
Why can’t you replicate the same sort of idea at the farmer’s market? Sell a bag of vegetables with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and cilantro for a salsa bag. Don’t forget a recipe card with how they can create this delicious salsa.
You can create bagged vegetables with soup recipes, stir-fry vegetables, bagged salads, and more. People love convenience; we have to remember that. So, cater to people’s preference and use it to make some cash.
4. Offer a Variety of Dried Herbs
You see a lot of fresh herbs at the farmer’s market. Fresh herbs are delicious and time-appropriate during the summer months. Everyone wants fresh basil for their pasta sauces and tomato salads; I can’t blame them.
Something that was missing from my local farmer’s market was dried herbs. Instead of selling them fresh, you can dry the herbs and sell them in labeled, glass bottles. People need dried herbs for their recipes, and most would prefer to get them from a local gardener.
5. Create Bagged Medicinal Teas
Take those dried herbs and create bags of medicinal teas. You can make sleepy-time teas, teas for sore throats, belly aches, and more. People love tea! You can sell boxes of different varieties or more multiple bags of a specific tea.
6. Sell Honey & Beeswax Products
Honey is a fantastic way to make money at a farmer's market. Make sure to offer samples. No one can say no to buying honey after they've had a sample.
Make sure to sell your honey in different sized jars, so there is something for everyone’s budget. Kids love honey straws, and you can sell those cheaply.
Don't forget that beeswax can be an income source as well. You can make homemade beeswax candles, sell molds of beeswax, or sell raw beeswax to those who need it to create salves, ointments, and more.
7. Embrace Maple Syrup and Extras
Maple syrup is always a hit, but you'll have to plan because most farmer's markets don't run during the same time as maple syrup season. It's hard not to love maple syrup time.
Depending on the size of your property, you might not have enough maple trees to produce a ton of maple syrup to sell. Be sure to supply your family first. After that, you can sell different sized containers of syrup.
Unless you have a large parcel of property, maple syrup won't be your primary source of income. If you only have a little to sell, you can learn how to make maple candies and maple cotton candy. Yes, a local farmer near me sells maple cotton candy at farmer's markets, and it's a massive hit with families!
8. Create Unique Jam & Jellies
Everyone sells jams and jellies at their farmer’s market, so how can you do this and make a profit?
You need to create unique flavor profiles for your jams and jellies. Strawberry rhubarb jam is better than just plain strawberry jam. Make mint jelly from all of that mint growing in your garden beds. Try hot pepper jelly, mixed berry jam, and more.
Don’t forget to offers samples of all of your jams and jellies. People want to taste them before they purchase. Make sure to label your jars and offer something, such as $0.25 back, if your customers return their jars to you. That saves you money!
9. Fun Colored Chicken Eggs
A lot of farmers at the market sell chicken eggs. Everyone loves fresh eggs, so they can be a hot commodity.
One unique way to stand out at the farmer’s market is to sell fun colored chicken eggs. That means you have to plan ahead and purchase chickens that lay blue-green eggs, olive-green, dark red eggs, and more. Then, put these eggs together in cartons and sell “rainbow chicken eggs.”
You can't get those types of eggs at the store so that people will flock, pun intended, to your table. They'll want a dozen of the eggs to bring home to their kids and make a special breakfast.
10. Try Selling Other Eggs
Other animals besides chickens lay eggs. You can sell duck eggs, geese eggs, and even quail eggs. People are interested in food that they’ve never tried. Most of these eggs will be sold at a premium.
When you sell different foods, including eggs, that people might not be used to eating, I always suggest to include recipe cards. While you can use duck eggs for scrambled eggs, add a unique recipe that might showcase their flavor and be appealing to the buyer.
11. Sell Dried Indian Corn & Dried Gourds
As fall approaches, people want dried Indian corn, dried cornstalks, and dried gourds. They make the best decorations, and they can be used for crafts.
Birdhouse gourds are one of the coolest for crafts. They're easy to dry, and kids love to make painted birdhouses. You could even sell kits with the supplies to paint the birdhouse included. What a perfect gift idea!
12. Sell Veggie Starter Plants
Instead of buying seedlings at your local nursery, customers at the farmer’s market can purchase veggie starter plants from you. You can offer a variety of vegetables or even trays of veggies so that the customers can have a garden full of their favorite crops.
Starter plants can be priced between $3-6, depending on the size and if they’re organic or not. You could make a significant profit if you offer your seedlings at the right time of the year when people are planting them anyway.
13. Craft Soaps, Lotions, and Other Bath Items
Be sure that you read the rules of your farmer’s markets. Some want to be sure that you sell a percentage of vegetables and farm goods rather than just all crafts.
Soaps and lotions are a great craft to include. People love unique soaps and lotions, ones with fun scents that are wrapped beautifully. Not only do people want to indulge in these items for themselves, but they also make lovely gifts. Customers are happy to purchase homemade bath products from local sellers, so consider adding some to your table.
The Bottom Line
When you want to make money at a farmer's market, I suggest that you don't stick your eggs all in one basket, so to speak. It's great to have a specialty, such as special unique crops, that aren't sold other places at the market. At the same time, it's wise to include a few other items, like a basket of soaps, a shelf displaying your jars of honey and maple syrup, or a wagon showing started seedlings for sale.