Our First Farmer's Market
On Saturday we attended our first Farmers' Market as produce vendors in Cedar Rapids, Iowa! As many of you know, for over twenty years we have been toting our handmade goods to art fairs, shows, and markets all over the country. For the past two years we attended the Country Living Fairs, and they were such a blast! But they are also extremely taxing on our minds and spirits. While we absolutely loved going, we realized soon after purchasing the farm that all of that travel was not going to be a possibility for us this year. This farm takes a lot of time and energy. But we still wanted to have an opportunity to go out and meet our customers and to share our bounty.
I adore farmers' markets. They are one of my favorite parts about summer! As we unpacked our produce yesterday and placed in baskets for display, I couldn't help but think to the year before when I was growing vegetables in the backyard and never thinking that I would ever sell any of it to other people. It's a bit nerve-wracking, shocking even. Can you really just grow food and sell it?! The answer is yes and no... of course there are legalities! But essentially we are growing natural food, pesticide free, to our people. I love it.
We were also so scared that we wouldn't have anything fresh to sell! Which wouldn't have been the end of the world... We still have all of our handmade products and dried bulk herbs and teas to bring. In the days before market, I decided that we had just a little bit of fresh to bring with. I picked fresh radishes, kale, arugula, rhubarb, and spinach. In the evening before market day, we clipped half open peonies and stuck them in warm water so that we would be fresh and ready to sell in the morning. I was so grateful that we even had any flowers to bring, and the peonies wouldn't have been possible if they had not already been planted here years before we bought it. I believe the varieties that we brought with were 'Festiva Maxima' and 'Sea Shell' which were beautiful. It was nice to wrap up so many bouquets for customers! I like growing vegetables the most, but selling flowers is really fun!
We decided to also introduce some new products at the market, which can always be a little bit scary! New products are an investment, and we always try to think deeply about what it is we are selling, the message it sends, and the beauty of its execution. Our motto is to provide a look into as well as knowledgeable information about creating and "living a wholesome simple life." It's why we are advocates for products that we sustainable, reusable, and waste free. But there's always a learning curve there, too! For instance, we didn't realize until this time last year that we maybe we should ditch the plastic bags we used to serve customers at markets. It was a habit we had formed that needed to change. Now we have paper bags provided, but we often don't have to give a bag at all... Most everyone brings there own these days! Which is so nice. We love that.
A few of the new products that we brought with were some sustainable produce bags. Eek! They are the kind that you can use at the grocery to purchase bulk grain like pasta, rice, lentils, beans, etc as well as flour, spices, baking ingredients, and even fresh produce like apples, tomatoes, celery, and whatever else. They are 100% linen, drawstring bags and will come in 5 different sizes. I am trying to figure out the best way to sell them to you online since shipping just one would be costly! I also have some new beeswax products like a large spiral taper and a bulk 1 lb block to put in the online store. Exciting stuff!
We had a lot of fun. It was nice to meet a more local crowd; I enjoyed that part anyway! I was mostly just really excited, curious, and nervous to sell produce to others. It was something entirely new for me, something that I wondered about for weeks on end. I was happily surprised to see it fly off of the tables and into customer's totes. I hope they found it tasty as we sure did with the leftovers! We learned a lot, and I am hoping to share more about food prep for market later down the road.
Did you attend your local farmers' market this past weekend? What did you buy?