Our Family Garden Produces More Than We Can Eat – Can We Sell the Excess?

Q.  There is a real possibility that what could be produced in the twenty-four 30′ grow boxes we are planning on building and populating with vegetables is more than our family can consume or preserve.  Since Mittleider’s books state that this is also a very real possibility, I was wondering what some of you may have done to market your produce.  How do you market the produce to grocery stores?  How about wholesalers? Is a roadside stand a viable option?
 
A.  Don’t try to sell your vegetables until you are experienced enough to know that you can produce good stuff!  There’s nothing worse for your future business prospects than trying to peddle inferior quality goods.
 
Even then, the big grocery stores, and even most of the smaller ones, buy their produce exclusively from their trusted wholesaler, and probably won’t be interested.
 
And unless you can promise them a steady supply, you probably won’t have a lot of success cracking the wholesale market either.
 
A roadside stand is a full-time job for someone, and unless you can keep your produce at least cool it won’t last long.  If you are serious, though, and keep good, fresh, and inexpensive produce available, you can develop a reputation and even a business that will sustain you.  Thousands have done it before you.  You may want to invest in some used refrigeration of some kind, and certainly a large umbrella, decent bins, trays, tables, etc.
 
If you’re growing single-crop varieties in the summer months (so you can’t do the winter storage thing), plan ahead and visit with neighbors, who might be interested in buying or trading something of value. 
 
Go to specialty stores and restaurants (plus the smaller grocery stores I mentioned at first).  Explain that you grow without pesticides or herbicides, and tell them your produce is “better than organic” because your plants receive natural mineral nutrients in the exact amounts they need for optimum healthy growth.  If you can show them great looking crops, and promise some degree of stabiity in delivery, you may make some converts.  And once they try your produce they will be solid, so long as you can produce the quality that’s expected in America on a consistent basis.