I have always loved growing a garden to feed my family, but it wasn’t until five years ago that I decided I wanted to try and make a little extra money from my passion. To be totally honest, it wasn’t really about making money, it was more about not letting so much go to waste. I hated seeing the extra produce that I couldn’t eat or preserve in time, just get tossed on the compost pile to rot. If I was going to work so hard to grow it, I wanted it to at least get used!
So I started selling my extra produce, and I quickly saw how fun it was to share my homegrown bounties with other people who appreciated what I was growing. Over the next few years I learned A LOT about selling fruits and vegetables. I discovered that you could make quite a bit of extra pocket change if you do certain things.
Now I could probably write an entire book on selling produce, in fact I did write an entire serious on growing and selling high end tomatoes (which you can check out RIGHT HERE and it’s completely free).
However, lately I have been completely overwhelmed with the amount of information on the internet. It’s such a pain to sort through everything and to read the same things over and over again just to find that one nugget of gold that you missed. So rather than dive into every tiny detail of selling your garden produce, today I am going to give a clear outline of the steps you need to take to turn your garden into profit. That way, you can have an easy to follow guide and you won’t have to search anywhere else to piece things together.
After years of experience I believe growing your garden for profit boils down to 3 important things:
- Decide WHERE to sell
- Decide WHAT to sell
- Decide HOW to sell
One of my favorite mottos that I have to remind myself all the time is K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid
Save that so you can remember those wise words of advice from none other than Dwight K Shrute of The Office.
Growing a garden for profit is something that definitely needs to be kept simple. The reason is that if you try and do a whole bunch at once, then you won’t be great at any of it. If you pick a few simple and small things to start out with, then you can work to perfect those things and be much more successful.
I learned that the hard way because I wanted to sell EVERYTHING out of my garden. Well let me tell you, that is impossible without a team of employees. You just can’t do it well, so don’t try it.
So let’s talk about #1- Deciding WHERE to sell
This decision should be made before you even put anything in the ground. The reason is that different places and different methods of selling, need different things to sell to be successful.
For example: Unique and specialty items usually don’t do as well being sold at a grocery store. People come there for groceries, not for gourmet food ventures.
On the flip side, you can do really well selling those items at an high end produce stand. This is where people come for unique fruits and vegetables to try.
Perhaps where you decide to sell is already flooded with other people trying to sell watermelons … well then growing watermelons won’t be a great idea.
Consider what your specific customers will want before you decide what to sell.
There are tons of options of places to sell, you just need to come up with which one will work best for your situation.
- Local grocery store
- Farmer’s market
- Local produce stand
- Your own home
- Lemonade stand style on the side of the road
- Direct to a restaurant
- Booth at the fair/community days
- Through the newspaper
- On craigslist (online)
- Your own produce delivery service
Now on to #2- Deciding WHAT to sell
Like I said before, K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid. Please don’t try to grow 20 different things to sell your first year unless you have a team of helpers already lined up. Your produce will suffer, and your name will be tainted with a less then stellar product that nobody wants to come back and buy again.
Choose a few things the first year, and make sure you have the time and energy to grow quality produce.
The two things I consider when choosing what to sell each year are
- What will sell the best/make the most money
- How easy/hard will the prep and storage be
After deciding WHERE you are going to sell, deciding WHAT to sell should get a little easier. If you have no idea what will do well, just talk to people about it. Is there a store manager or owner who would have good ideas? Is there a friendly face at the farmers market that can give you some pointers? Don’t be shy, most people will be happy to talk to you about it.
Preparing and storing your produce is another huge thing to consider. If you fruit or vegetable will only last 12 hours before it starts to look terrible, you won’t have a very big window to sell it in. If the produce you decide to sell is impossible to pack on top of each other like raspberries for example, you will need to figure out how to do that. You can’t sell something if you can’t even get it to your selling location in good shape.
Last thing #3- Deciding HOW to sell
People like things that look pretty. Lucky for you, fruits and vegetables in general are super attractive with lots of bright colors and different shapes and sizes. I think a well organized bundle of produce is incredibly beautiful … but I am a gardening freak so maybe that’s it …
Making your produce look nice is super important in getting it to sell. Again, there are tons of options and ways to make it all look more inviting and delicious. Use your imagination and creativity to do whatever you think will look best. As long as it’s clean and organized, you really can’t go wrong with throwing your own style into it.
Here are a few ideas just to get your wheels turning:
- Put them in baskets
- Order personalized boxes with your logo/brand name on them
- Make signs that tell about your unique produce
- Include a recipe card for how to cook with it
- Organize the different colors in patterns
- Put the containers on their sides so they appear to be “overflowing” with fruits or vegetables
- Incorporate wheelbarrows, gardening tools, flowers, etc. into your display
- Build your own shelves to sell from that stand out
- Design a logo or picture to use for your new “business”
- Have a sampling station
- Take attractive pictures of your produce for your display
- Use tablecloths or nice napkins that make it feel more high end and less dirty
My number one rule to follow is only sell the best I have. Any customer would be completely turned off by your product if they see bruises all over everything. Yes they still taste good, but no they do not belong in your selling basket. Take out anything that doesn’t look great.
So there you have it in a nutshell- First you need to decide where you are going to sell your produce. Then you can decide what you are going to sell, but K.I.S.S. And last you need to decide how is the best way to sell your fruits and veggies.
Remember your business will grow if people are happy with what they buy from you. Make it look nice, and only sell the best you have.
Now you are all ready to go for it! Good luck!
P.S. If you are interested in making money off your garden in OTHER ways … besides selling your produce, then you should definitely read THIS POST that gives 53 ideas of other ways to make money with your garden. Good Luck!!