I can hardly believe it, but I only have about a month left of markets. I’ve been selling at the Thursday Ballston Spa Market, and this market was perfect for me for several reasons.
For starters, the area I grow on is small. At most it’s about 500 square feet. This means I don’t have a ton of product each week, but enough to sustain this small market. It’s really crazy when you see what can be accomplished on such a small plot of land.
Second, it’s a small, not-too-busy market. I get a decent amount of traffic, but not so much that I sell out too quickly. Plus it turned out I was really the only one there selling greens, which was great.
Finally, it’s basically walking distance from my house. Although I wish it was a more booming market, it’s nice to be able to sell to the people in your own community. That was something I wanted to do from the start, so it feels good to see familiar faces each week.
It also helped me network with some other local farmers and restaurant owners. You’d be amazed at how many places you can eat in my little Village that really like supporting local growers.
Over the course of the summer I’ve sold product to Fifty South, Good Morning Cafe, Strata (formerly 51 Front), and Zest. Each of the owners has been great to work with and I really applaud their efforts to support local producers.
Having the season wrap up is very bittersweet. It will be nice to stop weeding soon, plus almost all of my final crops are planted. Prepping for market is a bit tedious, since all of my items have to be washed thoroughly and bagged, but it is worth it when I’m at the market. I will miss seeing folks each week, and I’ll miss catching the beginning of the concerts in the park that happen right as I’m packing up.
I learned a million lessons this summer. Most mistakes were based on me being ignorant, forgetful, careless, or just plain busy with other obligations. I’m going to try my hardest to not repeat any of these mistakes next year.
I’ve worried over late frosts, torrents of rain, scorching hot weeks, and a host of insects and weeds. Things I thought would be big sellers weren’t, and things I felt “iffy” about seemed to do well.
I’ve also been pleasantly surprised. Some things were happy accidents, others were leaps of faith that paid off. In the same afternoon I might say to myself, “You’re a genius,” and “You’re an idiot!” within the same hour. Farming is a very fickle thing, that’s for sure.
I didn’t make a ton of money each week but I’ve been setting it all aside for an upcoming vacation. I would most certainly need more land and a few bigger markets to make a decent profit though.
I feel like I was able to accomplish exactly what I had hoped to this summer. I would really encourage anyone with a large garden to consider something like this. Perhaps even check with local restaurants before the growing season to see what they need or what they have a hard time finding. I know next year my plan will be different based on the needs of some local restaurants.
It’s a very doable way to earn extra money and get experience along the way. I haven’t fully decided my plan for next year yet, but I’d like to keep moving forward with this. It doesn’t take much: a little land, some blood, sweat, and tears, a love of watching things grow, a desire to feed others, and loads of stubborness. That last one is really important.
A big “thank you” to everyone who has helped support Little Sparrow Farm this season!