By Jana Jones
Ever thought of setting up a booth at your local Farmers Market?
Johnson County Farmers Market is a fun place to be on Saturday mornings at the open-air market starting the first Saturday in May at Ralph Stout Park.
On average, vendors who sold during the 2017 season brought in $174 each Saturday, and some had sales over $500 during a three hour period. The total income for the JCFM 2017 season was over $71,000.
The Summer Market season starts in May and runs through October for 26, Saturdays from 9 a.m. until noon, which means over $71,000 within 78 hours.
An average of 210 customers came to the downtown Mountain City market each Saturday in 2107.
The demand is for freshly picked fruits and vegetables in Johnson County. On many occasion, vendors would completely sell out before 11 a.m.
“A farmers’ market is the only business I know where you can show up with a case of produce and you’re in business,” said Frank Beckwith, with Beckwith Gardens.
Freshly picked corn always sold out, as did okra, arugula, and snow peas. Certain fruits and vegetables would often be the target of early morning shoppers who wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out.
Kohlrabi, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, berries, grapes, and carrots were some of these favorites. There are also several types of products that have not been offered or are always in short supply. Asparagus, celery, peaches, nectarines, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, and eggplant were among the limited offered produce. Farmers growing these types of items would fill a significant void in the market, mainly if these items were grown using organic methods.
One category that the market has yet to offer is dairy products. Cheeses, yogurts, kefir and other dairy products must follow the TN Department of Agriculture regulations. An Ashe County cheese vendor who makes a variety of flavored goat cheeses sells out of her inventory almost every week at the neighboring North Carolina Farmers Market.
Value-added products such as homemade salsa, pickles, barbecue sauce, pesto, nut spreads, chili sauces, flavored vinegar, jams, and jellies do very well at the Saturday market. Handcrafted soy candles and beeswax candles are also in high demand as are soaps, salves, and lotions. Nursery plants and cut flowers are always a delightful addition to offer customers.
It is hoped that the JCFM will increase its number of vendors for the coming season, as the market works to offer shoppers more variety to meet its goal.
Farmers market offers:
-Minimal start-up costs: All you need is a vehicle, canopy, table, sign, scale, and cashbox (We even rent out canopies and tables at a low price)
– Little or no packaging, advertising, or promotion costs (We promote you)
– Make more money selling directly than selling wholesale and pay only an $8 weekly booth space fee
– Immediate, direct feedback on your product. Customers are the best people to tell you about price, quality, variety preferences and ideas for other crops to plant or items to offer.
Farmers Market welcomes more crafters and artisans as well. Customers love buying local, handcrafted items directly from the artist. The market is a perfect venue to get a product in front of a crowd of buyers for a minimal investment.
To join the 2018 outdoor season or know someone that could benefit from joining the “market family” just fill out an application and attend the spring vendor potluck and meeting at the basement of the Farm Bureau of Johnson County at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 9.
Applications can be downloaded at JohnsonCountyFM.org under “vendor information.” For questions about becoming a JCFM vendor call 423-727-5725 or email [email protected] Help JCFM make 2018 the best Farmers Market season yet!