Farm Market Entrepreneurship 101 – How do Farm Markets Differ From Public Markets and Red Onion Jelly
A farmers’ market is a place where farmers come together on a regular basis to sell fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, fish, meats and other farm products (such as preserves, baked goods, flowers and plants), directly to consumers. Hand-made items such as artwork and crafts are often sold at farmers’ markets as well, though many markets place limits on the percentage of non-farmer vendors allowed.
This is to ensure that markets which promote themselves as belonging to farmers are providing the service that is expected by the public when they arrive on a market day. Often, farmers’ markets also follow a “Make it, Bake it, and Grow it” motto, where all products available at the market have to be produced by the vendor selling it.
Markets which consist primarily of non-farmer vendors are often referred to as “public markets” or “community markets”, though many farmers’ markets start out with a small farmer base and strive to expand farmer participation over time. Public markets often sell many items where the vendor is a franchisee, resells items (e.g. books, tools) and have very few farmers.
The benefit of farmers’ markets extends beyond those provided to the vendors and the the people who buy at the market. When you support local farmers and artisans you are injecting funds that benefit the entire local economy. Studies show that every dollar spent locally circulates in the community three times around – in a phenomenon called “the Multiplier Effect.” For every vendor visit to a farmers’ market in a small business district, two additional visits are made to other shops in the surrounding area. For this reason, many farmers’ markets set up in the heart of their town’s small business sectors.
How do Markets benefit the community and the market goers?
The desire for face-to-face interaction between producer and consumer is a major reason for the rapid growth of farmers’ markets. This kind of direct marketing provides farmers with immediate feedback from their customers and enables producers to respond more effectively to consumer needs. In turn, the growing consumer awareness of the health, environmental, social and economic benefits of supporting local, sustainable agriculture has resulted in a desire for direct contact with food producers. Farmers’ Markets can help improve food security for local residents through increasing physical and economic access to adequate amounts of healthy food. There are many additional benefits of farmers’ markets, including:
- There is a greater variety and availability of local food products with higher nutritional value, superior freshness and flavor
- They provide a new sales avenue for farmers with immediate payment, and a larger profit margin
- They offer an opportunity for food education and awareness (e.g. seasonality of local food, environmental benefits of eating local, etc.)
- Bring customers that can support small – to medium-sized farms and other businesses;
- Offer opportunities for business incubation through the promotion of value-added farm products and other goods and services;
- Creating a vibrant community space for social interaction and cultural events;
- Reduce the consumption of fossil fuels for food transportation.
Now onto what we created today!
One of our customers favorites is Zingy Red Onion Jelly!
To start, I peel the “paper” and the top layer of the onion and place it in a pot with 1 and a half cups of vinegar. I boil the skin for about 15 minutes to dye the vinegar the red/pink color. (see the jar behind the diced onion)
Next I dice one and a half onions to get 2 cups of onion. I used to use a knife to cut the slices into little squares, but I had to turn the jars numerous times to get the pieces of onion to suspend in the onion pieces in the jelly. Running the onion through the food processor creates a finer dice and the pieces suspend much more easily. The jars only need to be “flipped” to suspend the onion twice.
Peel the outer later off of a lemon, then use a knife to slice into shreds.
Add 6 cups of sugar, 1 and a half cups of vinegar, the juice from the lemon (and extra to make it up to one quarter cup), the 2 cups of diced onion, and the lemon shreds.
Once the jelly has come to a full rolling boil, you can add the pectin.
A full rolling boil is one that does not stir down. Bring the jelly back to a full rolling boil again and then let it cook (while you stir it) for at least a minute (to get to the gel point, it needs to reach 220 degrees F).
When it has cooked, remove the jelly pot from the heat. Get the jars ready – along with your funnel and ladel (I throw mine in with the jars when I pour boiling water on the lids).
Ladle into the jars.
Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel add the lids and screw bands and process the batch for 10 more minutes (only 5 if you live at sea level, but with jelly, boiling longer is always a good thing).
Wow! Look at the color!
This jelly is not overly sweet. The liquid from the onions, the vinegar and the lemon make it more a savory treat – great with cheese or roast beef.