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  #1  
Old 10-19-2009, 03:25 AM
flatblack flatblack is offline
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Default Strictly *LEGAL* cash crops

So I have got the feeling of winter on me. Last night was our first killing frost, and I yanked out a lot of the remainders of the tomatoes.

This gets me thinking about what to plant next year. Im doing raised beds made out of old pallet slats filled with local dirt and horse manure.

I'd like to plant something I could make some money on at the farmers market next year. I am thinking fresh herbs, like basil, thyme, parsley, etc. etc.
Chives and garlic too. Aromatic herbs that people are familiar with and will pay $2-5 a bundle for.

Tomatoes and peppers are out. Old ladies at the farmers market with 200+ plants have got me completely strongarmed out of the competition. Those old gals would cut my throat on volume. I have seen there is a herb niche to be carved out though...fresh chives, garlic and basil, things like that.

Any ideas along these lines?
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  #2  
Old 10-19-2009, 07:58 AM
tomato204 Male tomato204 is offline
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Default legal cash

There is a post on IDIG about a "salsa kit" that a fellow is making. It includes all the ingreds and a recipe. I'll look for a link. You might think about something like that.
Here it is:
http://idigmygarden.com/forums/showt...t=23191&page=5

Last edited by tomato204; 10-19-2009 at 08:01 AM. Reason: incomplete
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  #3  
Old 10-19-2009, 11:18 AM
NCLee NCLee is offline
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I like the salsa kit idea! It really goes along with the "convenience foods" trends in the supermarket.

If you have the means to produce them inexpensively, how about selling small pots of herbs to go along with your cut ones? Small peat pots or plastic drinking cups (with a hole in the bottom) could be inexpensive container choices. Include a self-prepared handout with info on transplanting, uses of the herb, and a recipe for herb vinegar or something similar.

Check out that competition that you mentioned. What can you grow that's a bit unusual or a novelty that they don't sell? Birdhouse goards with a leaflet on how to make a birdhouse. Burpless cucumbers if they sell the pickling variaties. Your're right in that it's hard to competite with their tomatoes, unless you're selling an unusual heirloom variety. Just make sure you offer samples so your customers can taste the difference!

And, sometimes offering something for free will make you standout in the crowd. Doesn't have to be a budget breaker, either. Free pkg of basil with the purchase of x lbs of your tomatoes. If you have children old enough to help, offer free shucking with your bakers dozen ears of sweet corn. (Take the shucks back to feed your livestock.)

Everybody has summer squash running out of their ears and pretty stiff competition to sell it. Instead, how about selling squash blossoms and include instructions of using them? Again, if you have help, a sample, cooked on the spot (campstove) is sure to lure a few more customers.

Order some seed catalogs from companies who offer more than the standard garden variety of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Over the winter put on your thinking cap about which of the less common ones have the most potential to competite with those ladies.

Hope something in this post will trigger an idea that'll work for you.

Lee
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:35 PM
MooseToo MooseToo is offline
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it's long been recognized that one of the most effective ways to realize the greatest profit from the least amount of cultivated ground is horticulture - house plants for decoration -
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  #5  
Old 10-19-2009, 03:49 PM
flatblack flatblack is offline
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I have been trying to think along these lines. Red and yellow tomatoes are totally out. But the old gals are NOT growing black, purple, white, pink or green tomatoes, and that's gonna be my opening.

I am amazed at the size of some of these folks operations. Some of the farmers market sellers are not "casual" gardeners selling extra crap on the weekend. These are ruthless old ladies who tend hundreds of plants, and drive all over the area hitting different farmers markets, and selling several bushels of fruit over the course of a couple hours.

Stiff competition!

That's why I am also thinking lots of herbs, garlic and chives. Nobody else is doing it, that I have seen. The farmers market where I live is pretty active. A large part of the farmers market shopping crowd here is of an ethnic persuasion, and they are looking for the good fresh ingredients.

Surely there is money to be made on exotic and unusual produce.

I want to stay away from the 'crafty' type of items, as they are usually poor sellers. There are actually two farmers markets here. There is one in the city, organized by the city, and there is a second, more "black markety" one that happens on the outskirts of the city, in the Big Lots parking lot.

The one in the city has been taken over by flea market junk, crafty stuff, and ornamentals. The one in the Big Lots parking lot is where people go to sell eggs, fresh butchered meat, veggies and fruits, baked goods, etc. Essentially all the good stuff. They leave the wannabe craft fair in town, and get down to the business of selling thier goods. I don't know if fresh meat and baked goods are strictly legal to sell in a parking lot, but people are doing it, and making money at it regardless.

I have sold pears down there when I have them, and found most of the 'outlaw' sellers to be good folks. They think it's funny that people call them that, they just don't feel that they should have to give the city money to be allowed to set up and sell. It's mostly a philosophical thing, as the city only charges $2. But nonetheless, they bristle at the thought of it.

But people go to the Big Lots parking lot because they all know where the good stuff is at. These sellers have basicly built up thier own clientele over the years, despite the schism with the city's sanctioned farmers market.

The point of all this, is that there are some fairly dedicated farmers marketers around here, and they're a great bunch, but if I am gonna have ideas about selling stuff there, I need to bring my A game!

So other legal cash crops I have considered are mushrooms. Perhaps there is room in the market for fresh shiitake and other specialty mushrooms.

I like hot peppers and it would be cool to grow an insane variety of them, but I don't know if they would sell all that good. Some of those peppers are almost a novelty thing...
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Old 10-19-2009, 05:32 PM
Mom5farmboys Mom5farmboys is offline
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What about peppers that have already been dried? Takes the work out of it for the customer.

Also what about wild fruit? Black raspberrries, black berries, etc. Or putting in some raspberry shoots, or strawberry palnts and selling those fruits? OR premade and canned jams and jellies?

Make your own salsa and sell it canned and ready to eat?

Also thinking ahead to fall, what about planting organic popcorn and selling it the next year already dried and shelled?

What about decorative gourds or indian corn? I know you said no crafty stuff, but it was just a thought.

Also if people are selling meat, what about venison jerky? You could make that and it would keep well so not much chance of it going bad before you sell it.

Just some brainstorming here.....I seem to have a special talent at making extra work for other people
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  #7  
Old 10-19-2009, 06:06 PM
flatblack flatblack is offline
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Those are good ideas, and I think some of that is doable.

I'm not down on crafty stuff, I'm just trying to think what would sell. Growing up in Arkansas, there used to be a farmers market where these two guys grew flowers and made all kinds of wreaths and boquets, and they made a killing. They also did stuff like garlic wreaths with wildflowers...all kinds of things that would go for $10-20 a pop. "Art", as much as anything.

I think those guys had a good angle. I'm going to try to focus on edibles, as if nothing else, you can always eat them yourself or trade them to others.

I like the blackberry idea.

There are a couple giant patches of good yeilding, wild blackberries around my property. Would it be worthwhile, horticulturally speaking, to transplant these to a more manageable area, or to just buy new thornless canes?
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  #8  
Old 10-20-2009, 12:48 AM
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Naturally it depends on the area, around here, the top sellers for me at farmer's markets were....

1. Tomatoes, red mostly, but others will sell, especially if you give some free tastings.
2. Cut flowers (edible or otherwise), sounds silly, but people around here go wild for them.
3. Potted herbs of all kinds. (most formal farmer's markets require a state nursery permit)
4. Fresh salad fixings or salad kits of all kinds....kinda the same idea as the salsa kit.
5. Patio (dwarf) tomato amd pepper plants...must be fruiting to sell well.
6. Vegetable and flower seed packets, in the early part of the season.

In the fall.....popcorn (on the cob), ornamental corn and garlic are good sellers.


~Martin
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  #9  
Old 10-20-2009, 03:19 AM
Builder Ken Builder Ken is offline
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Lot's of good ideal's gets me to thinking about next year. I do know in these tough economic times people are looking for a deal and the packaging is what sells the product. I would pay close attention to how you presented it, for example put your tomato's in some type of a basket and raise your price a bit but the basket does the selling. For your berries use some type of jar or even a tupper ware container. Just some thoughts, I like the salsa kit I would buy that in fact they have a mix at atwoods in my part of the country and we have used it. Ken
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  #10  
Old 10-20-2009, 03:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Builder Ken View Post
Lot's of good ideal's gets me to thinking about next year. I do know in these tough economic times people are looking for a deal and the packaging is what sells the product. I would pay close attention to how you presented it, for example put your tomato's in some type of a basket and raise your price a bit but the basket does the selling. For your berries use some type of jar or even a tupper ware container. Just some thoughts, I like the salsa kit I would buy that in fact they have a mix at atwoods in my part of the country and we have used it. Ken

Value-added sure does make a lot of sense. Almost any product can be a great profit maker with some creativity.

Way back when I started beekeeping, most local beekeepers sold their honey to a local bottler for 35-40 cents a pound, because it was sometimes a retail slow mover in many locations in this area.
I bottled mine in squeezable honey bears and offered it to local clubs and such as a fund raiser.......I had my own little army of sales people! LOL
It worked out great for all involved.

The same could be done with other products without the, sometimes, hassle of dealing with farmer's markets....home grown popcorn, seeds, etc etc, etc,

The sky is the limit!


~Martin
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Old 10-20-2009, 09:13 PM
Mad_Professor Mad_Professor is offline
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If you have some well drained hardwood acreage ginseng is a good long term investment. Woods grown is selling for $300/pound but it will take a few years to produce mature roots
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:26 AM
nhlivefreeordie Male nhlivefreeordie is offline
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Ginseng has taken a huge hit this year, the last prices I saw weren't even half that, two years ago, it was around $800 a pound for dry root. But it could come back again too, it is a commodity controlled by availability and demand and affordability by the end user, which is driving part of this downturn as well as other factors.
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:36 AM
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Uh-huh, wild ginseng sure has taken a dive this year.

Wild-simulated woods grown takes at least 10 years to amount to anything, and it still sticks out like a sore thumb to most any professional buyer.

I have had them treat me well when I have just a little bit added to some wild, giving me full wild price for all.

I planted my first wild-simulated woods grown plot in '85, it still produces a few good roots each year thanks to planting seeds back.


~Martin
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:47 AM
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I'd second the berry idea for a long term crop, I remember my Grandmother used to sell them for $5 a gallon when I was little, but these days you can't hardly buy a pint of blackberries or raspberries for $5.
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Old 10-21-2009, 12:56 PM
Mom5farmboys Mom5farmboys is offline
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I had another thought. What about small bundles of cut wood, geared towards campers in your area? Around here they sell for $2.50 for about 10 pieces of 4x4 blocks of wood.
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Old 10-23-2009, 11:59 PM
Deberosa Deberosa is offline
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Check out www.freeplants.com

We are going to plan out getting started in a business like this. We have lots more space so may adjust what we grow but I agree with you on the tomatoes, corn, beans, peppers. Everyone sells them so you won't get much if you plan to sell any. Herbs are a great idea, pairing it with selling herb plants as well as the cut fresh herbs.

Another idea I want to implement with some kinds of veggies is an e-mail list business. People get on your list and you publish what you have for sale one day, with a route for delivery a few days later once people e-mail in their orders. No sitting around trying to sell stuff, no losing stuff that didn't sell and wilted or went bad and you can sell a large variety. I have a friend in Oregon who has done this for years and it's a great business.
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Old 10-24-2009, 12:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deberosa View Post
Another idea I want to implement with some kinds of veggies is an e-mail list business. People get on your list and you publish what you have for sale one day, with a route for delivery a few days later once people e-mail in their orders. No sitting around trying to sell stuff, no losing stuff that didn't sell and wilted or went bad and you can sell a large variety. I have a friend in Oregon who has done this for years and it's a great business.
Wow!

That's a VERY cool idea!

~Martin
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Old 10-24-2009, 02:54 PM
Anon001 Anon001 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deberosa View Post
Another idea I want to implement with some kinds of veggies is an e-mail list business. People get on your list and you publish what you have for sale one day, with a route for delivery a few days later once people e-mail in their orders. No sitting around trying to sell stuff, no losing stuff that didn't sell and wilted or went bad and you can sell a large variety. I have a friend in Oregon who has done this for years and it's a great business.
yeah, I like that idea too!

When I was managing a coop with a store in an "bedroom community", we had a lot of business lost to people buying feeds on their way home from the city, knowing we would be closed by the time they could get to us. So, we started a different type of delivery. They would place their orders online, through our website, or call. We made deliveries every Tuesday and Thursday. The order form also had a place to let us know where to leave the feed, meds, etc. Many times it would be in a garage, or a tool shed type of building. They liked the convienance and we gained a lot of feed. These deliveries were made with a pickup for bagged feeds.

You could do something similar with your items. Sorta like the old milkman days. There was a checklist my mother would leave in the fridge in case no one was home and he would leave what was on the checklist. He usually delivered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings around 8am.

Paul
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Old 10-25-2009, 12:19 AM
Mad_Professor Mad_Professor is offline
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Quote:
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Ginseng has taken a huge hit this year, the last prices I saw weren't even half that, two years ago, it was around $800 a pound for dry root. But it could come back again too, it is a commodity controlled by availability and demand and affordability by the end user, which is driving part of this downturn as well as other factors.
Current prices are $250-300/lb for wild/woods grown.

Check current issue of FFG (fur, fish, game) magazine. They post and update prices monthly for furs and wild herbs (goldenseal, ginseng, etc...)
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Old 10-25-2009, 01:41 PM
nhlivefreeordie Male nhlivefreeordie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad_Professor View Post
Current prices are $250-300/lb for wild/woods grown.

Check current issue of FFG (fur, fish, game) magazine. They post and update prices monthly for furs and wild herbs (goldenseal, ginseng, etc...)
I am sure you are aware that FFG publishes the prices that are available in specific places and that by the time you read the report it is very old, same with their fur reports ( or any fur reports from any magazine, not picking on FFG, they are ALL unreliable ) the time from receiving a market price and publication causes this. Plus ALL of these magazines focus on the top prices to fuel hype, to get people out there, after all, THAT helps their business. I have been in the fur game for over 40 years, NEVER do those prices hold up when you sell, and most of them are based on the previous fur auction, which brings a whole different set of expenses etc. Plus like Martin said, buyers can tell the difference between true wild ginseng and cultivated.

How much root do you want for $200 ?? Then you can make 50-100 dollars a pound and not have to dig, if you can get that price, I know a guy that has lots of it growing on his land, he used to plant seeds too, and has been since the 80s, but when prices are depressed like they are now, $100 a pound, he just leaves it in the ground. FFG is a good mag, one of my friends ( Joe Goodman ) does their in house art work, but the market reports are a joke, like they are in every magazine. Not their fault, it is something that does not lend itself to being accurate.
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