The Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch web page recently posted a story called "10 Things Farm Stands Won't Tell You." The list covers topics from the freshness of the produce, to whether it's organic, to how "local" it really is. Take a look at the link above. First, do you agree with any of it? Second, what are the most common questions you get from your customers, and how do you respond?
In reading the article, I found it very interesting that they didn't mention farmers markets, but only farm stands. We only sell what we grow, or what the bees produce here at our farm stand and at the markets we attend. https://www.facebook.com/Laurel.Farmers.Market?ref=hl But the farmers markets all around us allow reselling, and it is to the point of fraud, as sellers are withholding where the actual product is coming from. I think the article really missed the point on just attacking farmstands, and should have addressed sellers at farmers markets bringing in produce and products not associated with their farm and selling them at farmers markets.
It is actually good for our market, as our customers come here because of the fact we sell what we grow.
In actuality, in our state, a person that resells produce is defined as a "Huckster", and by the laws of Montana should pay a 20% tax on sales, and be licensed by the state. A farmer selling his or her own produce faces no such fees. I think many of the resellers are breaking tax laws, among other laws.
This article has much more to delve in to, and I would be the first to give a hand to them.
Most common questions are:
1. Did you grow this (problems with people purchasing at acution and reselling at market)
2. Is this GMO
3. Are you organic
4. What did you spray on the produce
5. What does this cost.
Usually in that order. We advertise fresh picked same day or yesterday for non-storables. Onions, Potatoes, Garlic are usually only fresh for a few weeks.
My most common question is 'Did you grow this?. I always answer yes and then explain where we are located (15 miles) and invite them to visit.
Next question is 'Is it organic?'. Answer is no.
Most of the time the people are just trying to verify I'm local. After that we just talk taste and growing issues they usually have - why do my tomatoes .......
We have about 20 vendors in prime time with about half or more with veggies. We have an application process with inspections at any time to verify you are growing what you sell. 'Pin Hookers' (resellers) are run off or discouraged by the application process.
Same with us. First question is "Did you grow this?", next is "Are you organic?", or "Do you spray?". I am happy to tell them yes and point to a sign we have explaining everything we offer is grown on our farm. I also tell them where the farm is and how far the vegeetables traveled to get to market.
We do have a small problem with "Hucksters" but not in our mkt anymore. After our last go around with them we won't tolerate it happening again and will promptly do farm inspections. The unfortunate part is there are farmers markets out there that do have hucksters in them and the state does not really pursue them. Our state has the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and the rules state no more than 50 percent of what you offer each day can be bought in. Well if the state was to enforce this rule there would be some markets that would have to close because of the hucksters and then there would not be as many places for the recipients of the state/federal program to redeem their checks. This would lead to a reduction in the use of the program and possibly less need for govt. Can't have that, so the hucksters are not gone after. It sure is easier to farm at the local wholesale mkts then in your own fields. I know one "farmer" who attends 4 markets each week and their growing area is barely an acre in size. Amazing isn't it?