For growers, it’s a place to sell their products, be part of the community, meet new customers and build a strong, loyal relationship with them. Customers visit and shop at farmers markets to buy locally grown produce, experience new products, get to know and interact with the growers and support local farm family businesses. The following guidelines will help you get organized, and allow you to continue improving your display, making your farmers market trip successful and enjoyable for your customers.
- Talk with your insurance agent well in advance of the market season opening. Prepare a list of your products to let your agent know of your business plans. Most markets will ask you to provide evidence of farm or commercial liability insurance when you apply to be a vendor at the market. Your agent can put the appropriate liability coverage in place and provide evidence of insurance (commonly called a “certificate of insurance”). Depending on the size of your operation you may also want to discuss farm personal property, farm use auto and workers compensation coverage with your agent.
- Have a farm name and register it. Registration will ensure that you haven’t chosen a business name already in use in New Hampshire, and will give you the exclusive legal right to use it. Your name is or will become an invaluable asset to your agricultural business enterprise, so give it careful thought. Before spending money on promotional materials, register your business with the Secretary of State’s Corporation Division in your state. (See addendum.)
- Check and stay informed of federal, state, and local regulations as well as individual farmers-market best practices and guidelines. Rules and regulations vary from state to state and from one municipality to another. Rules and regulations also vary with the products you produce and sell. (See addendum.)
Bring your Best Product to Market
Quality, Quality, Quality! Your produce has to look and taste its best. Bring only your highest-quality products harvested at their optimum maturity and freshness. For produce and herbs, quality equals freshness, flavor, texture, look, color cleanliness, and aroma. Study the photos in seed catalogs and check out the produce section of gourmet markets to familiarize yourself with the different varieties of vegetables and fruits, and most importantly their optimum harvest size. Many harvest-guide resources are available.
Maintain product quality
Keep produce and other perishable products out of direct sun. Several times during each market day, inspect your products and remove any that look poor. For leafy greens that wilt quickly, keep them fresh by displaying them on a bed of ice or by misting them frequently with drinkable water. Display only enough produce to create an attractive display, especially on extremely hot days. Keep the overflow out of the sun in coolers in your truck. Whether you call it product quality or good service, customers expect to get home with wholesome, quality products. Help them achieve it.
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