The Holton Homestead
You hear it all the time- Support Local
But what does that mean to you?
Usually it is just about where you spend your money. Buy your items here in person at your local Wal-Mart, Hy-vee, Fareway, Target, blah blah blah- so that your money stays in your area. Your local economy. Today I want to talk about something a lot more local. Your local farmers market.
Most towns have them, even the small ones. It is a place where you can truly SUPPORT LOCAL. Your money goes directly to a creator or grower in your area, with no middle man. A place to talk to real people in your area- doing real things. Learn about what is going on in your area. Local produce, local art, local products, local gifts, handmade with love. How can you not want to support that?!
Being a vendor is scary. Growing food for others is scary. You put your heart and soul into growing or creating something for others- knowing you will be judged on it. Food especially. People have this image in their head of how fruit and vegetables SHOULD look. And if your produce doesn't fit that perfect image, it could be overlooked. In reality, not every tomato is the same color and shape. Not every egg is the same color and shape. Not every apple has perfect skin. Not every pepper is the same size.
<< Side note: Having raised my own chickens for eggs, and gown my own food for a while now, I find it terrifying that produce and eggs in the stores are so uniform. How is it done!? If you look at a dozen of our eggs, you will see long and skinny, short and round, discolored, wonky, rainbow of color, speckles, NOT ONE EGG LOOKS THE SAME!! Same with the produce. All different shapes, sizes, colors. I can't wrap my head around it. It hurts to think about.>>
As a vendor you also have to determine your own prices. What if they are too high? Too low and it may not even be worth your time. You also don't want to cut the price too low for other vendors. Fair market is key. But it isn't like there is a meeting between all the vendors that sell similar things. No group discussion on prices or deals. As a vendor you just have to go with your gut and know what price will make it worth your time and materials invested.
There are many other factors for vendors. I wont go into depth, but will mention- there is a lot of pressure as a vendor. You have to make it worth your time and effort.
Not everyone has "extra money" or is ready to buy at farmers markets. We get that. So I want to talk about how you can support local without spending a dime.
Tell the vendor you like or appreciate what they do. Even if you can't buy today- tell them you are glad they are there. You like or are interested in what they do. We have met some pretty awesome people at the farmers markets. They have become friendships- all because they took the time to stop and chat for a second.
One of the markets we vend at is in a small neighboring town. It isn't always busy and sometimes hard to sell much. BUT every time we attend, there is a older gentleman who personally thanks us for showing up and being at his local market. He never buys, and that's okay. Just him taking a moment out and recognizing our efforts is motivation enough.
Tell your friends. Tell them about the market you visited. The vendors you saw. Tell them about specific items you enjoyed seeing. If your friend is looking for lettuce, and you saw a ton of delicious looking lettuce at a booth, tell you friends to check it out! Just by spreading market awareness you are helping bring more potential customers to local vendors.
Take pictures. Document your trip to the market. Take pictures of the crowds, the produce, the products, the flowers, the animals, the food. Share it. Social media it. People need visuals.
I have a friend who goes to the market every Saturday- rain or shine. While she is there, she take lots of photos and shares them on Facebook weekly. It always peeks my interest. It is cool to see that wide spread selection and exciting happenings. If I wasn't already vending at a different market, I would surely go and check it out.
At the very least, while visiting a market, keep these things in mind.
Think before you speak.
If an item seems strange to you, educate yourself. Ask questions instead of cutting down something you are unfamiliar with. The vendor will gladly tell you all about the item. What to do with it, where it came from, hows it is made, and any other fun facts. Open your mind- you may just find something you never knew existed and now love.
This could also go for prices. If you see an item and you think it is overpriced- find out why. Ask the vendor why their price is what it is. For us, our produce is priced higher than produce in local grocery stores. Why? Well it isn't the same as what is in the local stores. It wasn't trucked in from other states. It wasn't sprayed with any chemicals
(organic or not). It isn't weeks old. It is local, freshly harvested (usually that morning), and treated with nothing but love. When you tell a customer that and explain your process and hard work- they usually understand.
Handle with care.
Vendors expect you to touch their items. To check them out. But they also expect you to handle them with care. And even if there is no sign posted- if you break it, you really should buy it.
This sounds lame, but for real- treat others the way you want to be treated. If a vendor says "hi" to you in passing, or "good morning" just say it back! You don't have to stop if you don't want to but please don't be rude.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my blog. As a recap, you can SUPPORT LOCAL with your money, kind words, questions, pictures, sharing, and social media.
If there is a topic you'd like to learn about or see my point of view- send me a message or drop a comment down below. Always interested in learning what others are interested in.