Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Saline Winter Farmer's Market & pricing

The Saline Winter Market is now in full swing.  Opening day was 2 weeks ago, last week we had a break for a craft show, and the Grand Opening was yesterday.  There are a lot of vendors that attend this market - everything from veggies to bread to eggs & chicken to beautiful baskets to goat milk soap and cheese to alpaca yarns and socks to jams to syrups.  It's a really nice market.  Parking is in a school lot and you just have to walk into the school to shop.  So you don't have to fight the elements and if you buy a ton of stuff, it's not far to get back to your car.  Nathan will even help you carry things if you buy too much.

I posted a bit last night about pricing, etc.  In general, I'm currently going through the costs of various crops and trying to figure out whether to continue to grow as much as we do.  For example, I sold parsnips yesterday for $2/lb.  That can be quite a few parsnips if you select the smaller ones but two really large ones also = a pound.  Those babies have been in the ground since April 6th (ish).  They take 30 days to germinate.  As you're waiting for them to sprout, the other weeds germinate first.  So you weed.  Then they sprout and you weed again.  And again.  Then we mulched to help keep the weeds down.  Then we weeded.  I would say the beds were weeded at least 4 times x 3.5 people x 2 hours.  So right there you're looking at $280 in labor.  Then there's the harvest cost - they take a lot of work to dig and wash so that people can see them.  We planted 6 rows and a lot of them did well but some were flooded out.  Some are small and gnarly.  So, I'm estimating about 65% of the crop is prime and marketable.  So that's a net of 253' of parsnips @ $2/lb @ 1 lb/ft.  An overall estimate of $500 for that crop which took up 390 linear feet of garden space.  And that's if they sell.  Hopefully they will.  Compare that to salad greens which can yield up to $10/lb. and turn over every 45 - 60 days.  A 2' bed will yield about a pound, depending on how densely it's planted.  I could have planted about 195 linear feet of salad greens in the same space that I had planted the parsnips.  That would have resulted in roughly $975 in sales. But the harvest cost would be a bit higher than parsnips (because there are more harvests).

Anyway, these are the types of calculations I'll need to go through this winter.  Of course there's the  benefit of having variety, etc. which must all be taken into account as well.

In the mean time, we'll keep loading up our boxes and taking them to market.  Hope to see you there!

2 comments:

Angela Madaras said...

I love that you broke down the real cost. that does not count time in ordering seeds, shipping cost, fuel used if any, compost costs if any, cost of straw, water for power to run well, tractor use etc. Then there is the cost of doing a farmers market and marketing your goods. It all adds up. Good for people to understand. I'll take some parsnips!
Takes up too much room for me to grow on our small farmlette.loved seeing you and Nathan at your booth!

Jennifer said...

You're right, Angela. There are so many costs, both direct and indirect. Also, I was surprised how many people at the market commented that it's hard to find parsnips - I think it's because they really take so much work & time to grow. Let me know how many you'd like & I'll dig them for you.