To succeed, match farmers market offerings to the clientele

01/22/2014 11:54:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

To succeed in the increasingly crowded farmers market scene, you need products that stand out and catch consumers' eyes.

Those are the recommendations of Bill Evans, associate research professor with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station at the Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station, Crystal Springs.

Consumers' tastes are expanding, which opens up new opportunities for minor or unique crops, such as striped eggplants, heirloom tomatoes and "weeds" for salad greens.

But you need to consider the local clientele when making planting decisions, according to a news release.

Grow what you know, but also grow for your market,” Evans said in the release. “Small towns and traditional markets still want traditional crops. Some urban and upscale markets want ‘the next big thing,’ ethnic produce or other items that extend far beyond our traditions of yellow squash, greens and tomatoes.”

He suggested starting with something that's easy to grow and popular, such as mustard, turnip and collard greens and squash.

But some of the most profitable crops also are the most difficult to grow.

Jeff Wilson, a regionatl Extension horticulture specialist at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, suggests starting small and learning what local customers want.

Conferences and workshops also will provide information, while talking to successful local growers will yield business tips.

In addition, contact local farmers markets early in the process to learn the rules and their requirements.

For more information, visit Farmers' Markets in Mississippi.

Although some of the information is geared toward Mississippi, the website provides a lot of general information that's applicable regardless of location.

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