• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Community Exchange market booth - a way for small growers to obtain a yield  RSS feed

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
174
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I originally wrote this as a blog post in answer to this article on the permaculturenews.org: A Response to: "Right Livelihood – How Can We All $upport One Another?".

****************
In "Right Livelihood – How Can We All $upport One Another?", author Carolyn Payne-Gemmell brought up some limitations of a traditional "veggie swap" that excluded the ability to purchase products with currency. And while I understand that one of the main ideas behind swaps is to build community, like Carolyn, I actually believe that swaps can severely limit community-building and right livelihood, even if unintentionally so. So the question becomes, is there a better way?


Surplus citrus bounty gleaned by volunteers.

Several years ago, backyard vegetable gardening experienced a renaissance where I live in Phoenix, Arizona. Part of this was brought on by the housing market crash of 2008 where many people lost not only their jobs but their homes as well. As people began growing food, some ended up with an overabundance of certain items.

Many of these folks could also benefit from a little cash, so they went to the local farmer’s market to find out if they could sell their surplus there. The problem was, for the small backyard grower, the surplus only lasted for a small window of time and then they were back to having only enough to meet their own needs. The stream of surplus was not guaranteed over time and didn’t warrant investing in a weekly market booth and setting up a business entity with the required insurance.


Edible flowers. Photo courtesy of the Hadley Farmship

After watching many small growers become frustrated with the system, market manager, Cindy, approached a small local permaculture group to see if they could help out. From that contact, the Community Exchange market booth was born.


Marketing for small growers to help start the Community Exchange booth.

The idea behind the Community Exchange booth was simple; anyone with small surpluses of products could join the Community Exchange booth instead of paying for a booth of their own. Prior to the start of the market, these small scale growers could barter with each other if they so desired. Prices were clearly marked on the produce so equitable exchanges could be made. After the start of the market, the remaining produce would be sold to the public.


A bounty of Thompson seedless grapes.

From the sales, 80% of the profits go back to the individual sellers. These sellers can elect to help out at the booth, or not. At the end of the day, vendors can pick up any unsold produce. Or, if they choose not to return to pick up any unsold items, they are donated to local charities.


Cherry plums and white donut peaches.

The other 20% of the proceeds go toward: paying for yearly booth rental and insurance; a reserve account for expenses, and to provide a modest "appreciation gift" for the table manager and the business director.

The table manager is responsible for checking the vendors in at the beginning of the day, and checking them out at the end of the day and noting the produce that was sold and returned to each vendor. He is also responsible for setting up the booth, making attractive displays and keeping the produce iced in extremely hot weather. The business director handles scheduling, back-end management of the booth, setting up the business entity and making sure all paperwork is filed correctly. He also fills in at the booth as necessary and trains new people to be table managers.

The Community Exchange model seeks to provide both a swapping opportunity to the participants at the beginning of the day, and a way for people to earn a small income from anything that was not swapped. No one becomes unintentionally excluded - it is microbusiness at its best! And because there is a diversity of people participating, the booth always has ample and varied products to offer.


Crafts made by women from a local women’s shelter.

One of the best things about the Community Exchange booth is that it is inclusive. Several participating vendors are on fixed incomes or have limiting impairments. Others come from underrepresented community segments such as shelters or immigrant populations. The Community Exchange booth provides a wonderful way for products from these individuals to be included and valued.



As word of the Community Exchange booth spread, many market-goers became intrigued with the idea that this food was produced in the surrounding neighborhoods by these micro growers and as a consequence the booth has become a fan favorite; building community and understanding between buyers and sellers. This popularity and support has enabled some growers to expand their endeavors to the point where they earn a modest living and can provide for themselves in financial difficult times.


The Downtown Phoenix Market. Tucked in the surrounding neighborhoods, industrious growers and crafters are hard at work!

The Community Exchange concept was designed to be a repeatable, standalone model that could be replicated around the city or around the globe. To that end, we’ve provided our “working documents” here so that interested groups can start their own Community Exchange booth. Conventions vary by location but many of the items contained in these documents can be modified for local use.

Flyer
Manual
Booth Day Balance Form
Registration Form
Rules and Regulations
Vendor Invoice
Vendor Summary


moderator edit to fix broken link
 
B.E. Ward
Posts: 79
Location: Aside the Salish Sea
bee books forest garden
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cool stuff.. thanks for posting this!

I was led to your post in an attempt to answer the question: "How could someone earn a little income from the excess in their garden without being a full-blown business vending at a farmers market?" The hurdles could be particularly high in a place like this (Western Washington) where markets are really popular and stalls are at a premium.


Are there any other options?


 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6504
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
237
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Have you experienced any push back from commercial growers who don't welcome the competition ? I've seen exclusion via red tape prevent growers from selling in markets that are designed to favor a few vendors who are certified organic. Price fixing is often a component of such markets. I had wild harvested fruit and was denied entry. Not certified, but nobody spends money to spray trees which they don't harvest.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
288
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The Farmer's Market in Chewela, WA has a booth like that.
Chewela-FM.PNG
[Thumbnail for Chewela-FM.PNG]
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
174
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
B.E. Ward wrote:Cool stuff.. thanks for posting this!

I was led to your post in an attempt to answer the question: "How could someone earn a little income from the excess in their garden without being a full-blown business vending at a farmers market?" The hurdles could be particularly high in a place like this (Western Washington) where markets are really popular and stalls are at a premium.


Are there any other options?




Hi B.E. - try Ripe Near Me
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
174
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dale Hodgins wrote:Have you experienced any push back from commercial growers who don't welcome the competition ? I've seen exclusion via red tape prevent growers from selling in markets that are designed to favor a few vendors who are certified organic. Price fixing is often a component of such markets. I had wild harvested fruit and was denied entry. Not certified, but nobody spends money to spray trees which they don't harvest.


Dale - sorry that happened to you.

As for commercial growers not welcoming competition - I don't even think we're on any of their radars yet! The customer base seems to want this type of booth as a new market in the East Valley stated they would not open UNLESS there was a Community Exchange booth.
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6504
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
237
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My fruit supply was a one time thing. If I get to where I need to move a lot of stuff, I could see starting a booth.

Another model for this could be an individual who wants to make a buck running a booth. I could see paying 10%-15% and allowing the seller to fill their own freezer with unsold product on some sort of split basis. I have a young relative in mind. She often runs out of both money and food. This is a way for any apartment dweller to guarantee themselves food and a weekend job.
 
Bippy Grace
Posts: 13
Location: Elgin, Texas 581 ft elevation/ zone 8b/ 34 inches avg. rainfall (hah)/ Mediterranean climate
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a really cool concept and I hope it gets a lot more traction. One of my favorite booths at my local farmers market is a pecan grower that tends to have products from other people that aren't big enough to have their own booths- he's got a couple honey providers, a few jewelry makers, a baker, etc. It makes his booth a lot more diverse and interesting. I'm not sure if that would work in my local farmer's market (I live in a town with about 8,000 people in it- our farmers market is SMALL), but I can see that being awesome larger markets!

Thanks so much for sharing this!
 
Gail Gardner
Posts: 111
Location: SE Oklahoma
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:
B.E. Ward wrote:Cool stuff.. thanks for posting this!

I was led to your post in an attempt to answer the question: "How could someone earn a little income from the excess in their garden without being a full-blown business vending at a farmers market?"  The hurdles could be particularly high in a place like this (Western Washington) where markets are really popular and stalls are at a premium. 


Are there any other options?




Hi B.E. - try Ripe Near Me


I order produce and have it shipped to me. Some of it ships better than others, but if anyone is interested in knowing more I can share how even fragile fruit like peaches arrives in perfect condition.  And I'd be happy to buy excess from anyone who wants to sell it who can take PayPal and is willing to ship. 

More ideas:

In our area, there are people who have their own vending spots. They buy watermelons, tomatoes, okra, squash and other produce from local non-certified, but organic growers to sell at their stands. They even come help pick and load it. Every grower doesn't need a booth or farm stand. Those who retail can buy from growers and people who wholesale.

Another idea that would take some doing, but I'm sure would work in small towns would be to advertise locally and build a local route. Have a regular day for delivery in a particular area and let people come out to your car or truck and buy at their homes. I've been thinking that using a horse-drawn cart would attract a lot of attention and bring people out. Or someone could emulate an ice cream truck and have music or bells or something to let people know you were driving through their area.
 
Michelle Bisson
Posts: 200
Location: Quebec, Canada
15
forest garden hugelkultur trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There is a small business dedicated in distributing growers produce in Florida.  They seemed to be open not just to farmers but to local "backyard" growers.
Local Roots Distribution

Maybe what they are doing in Florida might inspire others to do something in their region.  The owner, Emily Sarah Rankin, did say that it was difficult to find enough growers to meet the demands of their market in a meeting I attended while visiting Florida.

If you are in Florida and you grow food, whether you are a farmer or backyard grower etc.., contact them if you have a surplus.  I know no détails of their program since I was only an attendee of the event.


 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2091
65
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have a garden market exchange group in my neighborhood. We use fake money and trade what we have extra. It's fun.  It's not really about making money. It's about sharing food and techniques on how to grow stuff. It's also just a fun social time.
John S
PDX OR
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
Posts: 552
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
63
bike dog forest garden urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't know if a booth like that would be possible here in the Netherlands (with very strict rules and regulations on everything), but it sure is a very good initiative!
 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2091
65
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We just meet in each others' gardens and houses, so it is not regulated.
John S
PDX OR
 
He's dead Jim. Grab his tricorder. I'll get his wallet and this tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - boots-to-roots
https://permies.com/t/59706/permaculture-bootcamp-boots-roots
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!