Stand Out at the Farmers Market

It’s finally time for homesteaders to start thinking about spring.  Thinking about spring includes garden planning, animal husbandry, new homesteading projects, and income-producing ventures.  The traditional source of income for homesteaders is the farmer’s market.  Regardless of how well you did last year, you can make more money at the farmers’ market with these ideas on how to make your booth stand out.

Be Prepared

Working a booth at the farmers’ market is, in many ways, like a regular job.  The more prepared you are, the easier the work and the more money you will make.  Being prepared includes knowing what you are going to sell, how much of each item you have, income projections for each week and the season as a whole, and having everything you need to make a sale at your fingertips.

Start your season now with a notebook.  Write down every item you would like to sell this season.  Start by thinking about the things you sold last year.  Which items sold well?  Do you want to sell those things again?  Were there items that didn’t sell?  Consider the time and energy you will save by taking those items out of your inventory.

Now think of some new items you would like to offer your customers.  What do you need in order to add those products to your inventory?  Write everything down, including the cost to you.  Make an educated guess regarding the potential income for these items.  Narrow your new inventory down to a manageable list of two or three new products.

When you are setting up your booth, make sure you have the things you need to make an easy sale.  Do you allow your customers to pay with a credit or debit card?  You need a card reader.  A lot of customers pay with cash.  Have a cash bag with plenty of change.  You also need bags and a receipt book for customers who need a receipt.  Don’t forget business cards and sign-up sheets for upcoming homestead events.

Specialize in Variety

Successful markets have a variety of vendors, each with different products.  Successful booths are a microcosm of successful markets.  To have a terrific income-producing booth, specialize in offering a variety of products.  You can make your booth stand out at the farmers’ market by focusing on seasonal products and by including one new and interesting item each week.

Specialty cheeses on display.

Even if you are a specialized homesteader, this is an important consideration that can help you make more money at the farmers’ market.  Simply include an item that matches your specialty item.  For example, let’s imagine you are a goat farmer.  Your main product is goat milk, and you have a regular customer base.  But, as we all know, it is difficult to convince people who have never tried goat milk to buy a pint.

To expand your customer base and make more money at the farmers’ market, you need to offer new products but it does not make financial sense to start over from scratch.  The things you can think about including are goat cheese, goat milk soap, goat poo for gardeners, and fiber crafts made with goat fibers.  You might also want to include a sign-up sheet for goat husbandry classes, a goat share, or goat meat when you have kids.  Offering to renting your herd to clear brush or allow homeschool groups to come to your “petting zoo” can really make your booth stand out at the farmers’ market.

Tell a Story

People shop at farmers’ markets for fresh farm food, but they also want to support local farmers and artisans.  Your main job is to make it easy for people to support your work.  To do this, they need to know about the work you do.  Spend time creating your narrative – a positive, fun, and uplifting story about what you do and why you do it.  Yes, it is hard work but this is not what your story should focus on.  Make it fun and inspirational.

Take pictures of your farm and display these pictures to make your booth stand out.  Direct people to your homestead’s website so they can learn more.  Provide recipes and how-to-craft tutorials.  Never be afraid of losing a customer because you gave them your secrets!  The opposite is true – the more value you give away for free, the more willing people are to trust you and buy your products.

Looks Do Matter

It would be a wonderful world if looks didn’t matter, but they do.  Especially when you are trying to convince people to part with their money.  You don’t have to wear a tuxedo or ball gown, but you do need to care about your personal appearance.  Everyone working your booth should be identifiable.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you need branded tee shirts, but everyone can wear the same-colored shirt or apron.

Special attention should be paid to the appearance of your booth.  Throwing everything out on a table and hoping people will sort through it all until they find something they want is not your best bet.  The hardest part of making a sale is getting people to walk up to your booth.  Once they do this, your chances of selling something are extremely good.  You can entice people to your booth with an organized, neat display.

You do not need professionally-made signage, but you should invest in a bright, solid-colored tablecloth and some bins or baskets to keep products organized.  Your name, and the name of your farm, should be available, as should the price of each item.

Vertical Space

Make good use of all the space you have available.  Buy hooks for your tent poles and hang plants, flowers, or miscellaneous crafts.  Place blocks of wood under your tablecloth so your bins of items are staggered, drawing attention to unusual and higher-priced items.  Bags of compost or leaf mold can be stacked attractively on the ground, as can large potted plants.

Up-sell and Down-sell

If you have ever bought anything, someone has tried to up-sell to you.  After a meal at a restaurant, your server will ask if you are ready to order dessert and coffee.  When you buy your toddler a winter coat, the smart salesperson will point out winter boots, scarves, and mittens.  Even Amazon gives suggestions based on what you place in your virtual cart.  You can, and should, do the same thing.  Don’t worry – you should never be pushy or try to make a hard sell.  Your only goal is to make sure your customer has everything they want before they leave your booth.  If you sell herbal teas, for example, you should also sell honey or flavored sugars, tea breads, and hand-glazed teacups.

Down-selling works much the same way, only in reverse.  Imagine a customer buys a bag of your herbal tea.  She makes an offhand comment about how she wishes she had her own herb garden.  This is a perfect time to sell her a couple of potted herbs, along with a bag of compost.  Let her know you have growing information on your blog.  While she may not need to buy herbal tea from you anymore, she will buy anything else you have at your booth or on your blog because you gave her what she really wanted.

All Five Senses

The more senses you are able to engage, the easier selling becomes.  First, your booth should be attractive.  Bright, cheerful colors draw the eye, and an organized display with the names and prices of products turn an intimidated passerby into a confident customer.  Second, provide items customers can touch.  If you do not want them to handle your products, provide recipe cards or a newsletter for them to hold.  Third, engage their sense of taste by providing samples.  Mini cups of fresh berries, cubes of goat cheese on a toothpick or smeared on a cracker, and bites of homemade cake do more for closing a sale than you could ever do by just talking.  People love freebies and will reward you with a purchase more often than not.  Fourth, make good use of our sense of smell.  Smells have the unique ability to trigger memories of the past and transport us to our ideal future at the same time.  Fresh-cut flowers are a great addition, as are herbs.  If your booth has no smell, consider using a comforting essential oil in a diffuser. Finally, pay attention to the sounds of your booth.  You can play music at a low level if you want, but the most welcoming thing a customer can hear is friendly and knowledgeable chatter and plenty of laughter.

Give Something Away

This works especially well to make your booth stand out when you are introducing a new product or when you are having a slow market day.  Decide what you can give away for free and wrap them up.  Attach a small gift card with the name of the product, the name of your homestead, and your contact information.  Give one to everyone who stops by your booth.  Word will spread like wildfire and most people will buy something after receiving a gift.  Even if they don’t, you can’t buy the goodwill a gift creates!


This is such an easy idea to implement to make more money at the farmers’ market.  When you have an abundance of one item, hold a BOGO sale.  Buy one (pound), get one free, or half off.  You can incentivize based on your goals.  If you want to expand your customer base, offer a deal based on bringing a friend, such as “Bring a friend, get 20% off entire purchase!”  Because you are your own boss, you can customize the deals.  If you want to support a local charity, you can announce a portion of each purchase on a certain day will go to them.  If you are planning your first teaching event, allow a customer to bring a friend for free.

Start a Club

Human nature makes us want to be part of something other people aren’t part of.  Whether this is good or bad is up for debate, but it can be good for your farmers’ market business.  Punch a purchase card every time a customer buys from your booth for 20% off their fifth purchase.  Start a members-only club and hold a contest on your blog or social media for members.  Randomly select a member to win a box of produce to be picked up at the farmer’s market. Give your farm members a canvas produce bag stamped with your homestead’s name. Others will want to know how they can become a member.

Homesteading can be hard, dirty work but the more you can do to stand out at the farmers’ market and to make buying from local producers fun, the more clients you will have and the more income you will make. Let your personality shine, be generous with your time, knowledge, and products, and show how grateful you are to be living the life of your dreams and you cannot fail.


  1. A well-written and informative article. I forwarded it to my daughter, who runs a poultry swap and farmer’s market on her farm three times a year, to send to her vendors.. Thank you, Jenny and Jessica!

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