The best part about summer at the market is all the fresh produce, but have you ever stopped to consider how much work goes into getting all your favorite items to market? We are just beginning to reap the benefits of years of experience in planning and preparation at this point in the season. So what does it take to get products on your table?
Planning crops and crop schedule
Deciding what to plant is the most significant part of being a farmer. Planning begins months in advance to ensure that there are enough products to harvest throughout the season. To do this, a crop schedule is drawn up, providing a guide for when planting will begin and when to expect a harvest.
Once the schedule is made, planting begins, assuming mother nature is cooperating. Planting may happen over weeks or even months, depending on how many products plan to be grown and how much space is available to work with. Not only do the crops need to be planted, but they also need to be fertilized to ensure maximum yield.
Tending and maintaining crops
Once planted, the real work begins. Farmers (or farmhands) need to check up on crops every day. This is typically done in two ways: either by walking out and visually inspecting the plants/crops for any problems or using tools like a stick to poke around and see underneath leaves. The main purpose here is to catch any problems early on before they have a chance to spread because diseases or pests can impact the entire crops. Maintaining crops may even continue after harvest to ensure that products don’t go bad in storage.
The harvesting process is different for each product and variety of plants. This part usually happens weekly, but it varies depending on how fresh products need to be. For example, some veggies will last longer than others, so they can either be harvested less frequently or picked at different stages. Fresh market tomatoes and peppers are examples of this, as they do not store well, so they need to be harvested quickly once ripe.
On the other hand, potatoes are a root crop left in the ground for much longer before being harvested. This is because it stores well in storage bins, giving the farmer time to choose when farmers should carefully harvest the potatoes.
Cleaning and prepping for sale at market
Once the products are harvested, it’s time to prep them for the market. This is another process that varies from product to product. Fresh produce should look as good as possible when going to market because it improves its overall appearance and ensures that the customer will buy it. This means removing as much dirt and other imperfections off as possible because these can impact the product’s quality and/or shelf life. Also important is how the farmers packaged the product before the market, making the product as attractive as possible.
Day at the market, selling and delivering.
Once everything is in place, the only thing left to do is sell. Going to market every week and selling products can be exciting, but it requires a lot of work. This means getting to the market early and setting up. The point of a stall is to make the product even more accessible without getting in the way of the customers to ask questions or select the products they want.
Fresh produce doesn’t last very long, so all these factors must be taken into consideration and coordinated in such a way as to offer as much as possible each week. Fresh markets are also a lot more likely to have returning customers every week, and these are the ones who like to buy certain crops that they really like because they know exactly how fresh the ingredients are at that market.
As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of effort that goes into being a farmer. These farmers are in the business of growing, harvesting, cleaning, and delivering fresh produce to you every week. It only takes a few minutes for you to purchase them, but it’s taken many hours for these hard-working people to make your food as amazing as it is.
All of our vendors contribute a great deal to be part of the market, but we spotlight farmers as it highlights the effort they all go through in preparation for selling at the market each week.
Take time to tell them “thank you” for their hard work every time you buy from them.
Vendors at the Market this Week
Here’s a list of the businesses at the market: