How to Become a Farmers Market Vendor

Опубликовал Admin
9-12-2019, 16:00
Updated: November 25, 2019 Farmers' markets have grown in popularity and become important places for people to buy their food. Shoppers enjoy having access to fresh food and meeting the people who produced it. If you run a farming or agriculture business, you can expand your business considerably if you become a vendor at a farmers' market. Investigate the different markets around your area and determine which is best for you. Then submit all your application materials. If you're chosen, select your best products, make an eye-catching sign, and interact with your customers. If you make a good impression, you can earn lifelong customers for your business.

Finding the Right Market

  1. Search for farmers’ markets near you. As a first step, find out if there are any farmers’ markets near you. If you already know of local markets, then you don’t have to do much searching. Otherwise, you have many options for finding one.
    • The US Department of Agriculture keeps a directory of all the farmers’ markets in the country. Find one near you by typing your zip code into
    • You could also search “farmers’ market near” your town name to find locations.
    • You can travel to a farmers’ market, but keep in mind that your products have to stay fresh on a long car ride. If you have products that perish quickly, consider sticking with closer markets.
  2. Determine what vendor category you fall under. Farmers' markets usually host a multitude of vendors, ranging from farmers to artisans to beekeepers. The application will likely ask your category so the market can place you properly. Know what you produce and what you’ll be bringing to the market to categorize yourself properly.
    • Common categories include: producers, usually applying to farmers and ranchers; value added, for people who use raw and local ingredients to make food; prepared food, for bakers or chefs who use non-local or store-bought ingredients; and artisans, for people who make crafts.
    • Some markets specialize in particular vendor types. Check if a market you’re considering has a particular vendor need, or if anyone can apply.
  3. Compare farmers' markets that appeal to you. You will probably have several choices for which markets to apply to, and they each may offer different advantages. Think carefully about the strengths and drawbacks of each location to decide which market is best for you. For example, one market may specialize in the product you sell, but be very far from your farm. Another might be closer to you, but charge a higher fee. These are all factors you should weigh when making your decision.
    • Stay organized by making a spreadsheet and plugging in relevant information about every market you’re considering. Important information could include the location, commuting time, fee, and required application materials.
    • Pay particular attention to the fees each market charges. The point of selling at a farmers’ market is making money, so keep all expenditures within your budget. Otherwise you could end up losing money by participating.
  4. Gather the necessary paperwork and submit the market application. All markets may have different application processes that they usually list on their websites. They often ask for some of the same documents, however. Common materials include an application form, a copy of your business license, proof of your business insurance, and a signed vendor agreement. Ready all of these materials ahead of time before submitting.
    • If you haven’t already, register your farm as a business before applying to farmers’ markets because most markets require you to be a legal business.
    • Look into obtaining business insurance as well, since your farm usually needs insurance before it can sell at the market.
    • Remember that each farmers’ market has its own deadline for applications. If you miss this deadline, you will have to wait until next year to sell at the market. Keep track of the submission dates and have all your paperwork ready for the application.
  5. Plan your commute to the market location. Location is important when considering farmers’ markets because in many cases, you’ll be transporting perishable items. If you’ll be traveling long distances, make sure you have a truck with refrigeration to prevent food from spoiling on the trip. Distance in also important because if you run out of inventory, you’ll have to restock. If you have a 4 hour trip back to your farm, this will be difficult.
    • Calculate your transportation costs as well. High gas prices can cut into your profit margin.
    • Also consider the travel time. Will you have to get up at 3 AM every day to be there when the market opens? Is this something you want to do?
  6. Contact the market manager if you have any questions. Even after you look into a farmers’ market, you may still have questions. In this case, don’t hesitate to reach out to the market manager. They are responsible for making sure the market runs smoothly and would be happy to answer any uncertainties you might have.
    • The market website may list someone’s name and contact information, or it may just give you a general phone number. In either case, state your question clearly to increase you chances of receiving a sufficient answer.

Preparing to Become a Vendor

  1. Find out what your booth size will be. This information is important so you will know how much inventory you can fit in your tent. Find out early on how much space you have so you can plan your inventory accordingly.
    • A common lot at farmers’ markets is 10 feet (3.0 m) by 10 feet (3.0 m). Use this as a reference for how much inventory you can bring.
    • When you do find out your booth size, calculate how much inventory you can fit in your tent. You want to strike a balance between offering as many products as you can while still looking presentable and orderly.
    • Figuring out the ideal amount of inventory to pack is a learning process. You can look up how many visitors per day the market received in past years to get an idea of how many customers you might have. Adjust your approach if you need to. For example, if your cart sells out by noon one day, plan to pack more inventory the next day.
  2. Practice setting up and breaking down your tent. The day the market starts is not the time to have any unexpected problems. Make sure you know how to smoothly set up your tent and any other equipment so you can get started selling right away.
    • Markets usually have regulations on how tents should be weighed down and secured. Conform to all of these rules for everyone’s safety.
    • Make sure everyone who will be running your booth is capable of setting up and breaking down the tent as well. If you’re sick one day, you may need someone else to fill in for you.
    • Also make sure any equipment you’ll be using is in working order too. If you’ll be using refrigerators, sinks, or stoves, practice setting them up and make sure they work.
  3. Select only your best products for the market. No matter what you sell, you want your customers to see the very best from your farm. Sort your products carefully and remove any damaged or undesirable ones.
    • If you sell produce, find the largest and most colorful examples to attract customers. Wash them with cold running water to give them a shine.

Selling at the Market

  1. Get to the market in time for opening. Farmers’ markets open early, usually no later than 8 AM. Arrive before opening time so you have time to set up. This way, your booth will be ready when customers start arriving.
    • Dress appropriately as well. Read the weather reports and know what to expect. If it will be warm in the morning but rainy in the afternoon, plan accordingly by bringing a jacket you can wear.
  2. Create an eye-catching display. There is a lot of competition at farmers’ markets, so you have to try and stand out. Remember that selling at the market is an advertisement for your business. Hopefully, if people like your products, it will bring you more sales. Work hard to design an appealing display so customers want to stop and look at your products.
    • Start with a large, colorful sign. Put your farm name and business logo on this sign so all visitors can clearly see who you are. Remember to follow any rules about sign sizing.
    • Use smaller signs to describe what makes your products unique. For instance, “Just picked this morning!” will appeal to people looking for the freshest food.
    • Arrange your products so they look neat and orderly for your customers. Don’t just throw things around. This will make your display look sloppy. Customers prefer a well-organized stand.
  3. Set a good price for your products. Pricing your products can be difficult, but it’s extremely important. If your prices are too high, you’ll drive customers away. If they’re too low, you’ll lose money. There is a lot to consider when pricing items.
    • Calculate exactly how much the item cost you to produce. Then add a percentage on top of that so you make a decent profit.
    • Look around the market and see what other vendors are offering for similar products. If your prices are much higher than your competition, you will lose business to them.
    • Consider offering deals for larger purchases. For example, your price could be $1 for 1 pound (0.45 kg) or $2.50 for 3 pounds (1.4 kg). This could entice customers to buy more than they would normally.
  4. Communicate politely with all customers. Practice good customer service so your farm has a good reputation. Greet all customers and talk with them politely. Always thank them for coming, even if they don’t buy anything.
    • Having light conversations with customers is a good thing, but keep it short if the market is busy. Other customers who want to buy something could get angry if you ignore them.
    • Be polite to the other vendors too! Although you are technically competing with them, there's no reason you shouldn't be kind and courteous to your neighbors.
  5. Remove products that begin looking lower-quality. Your inventory should look fresh and new through the day. Monitor your inventory periodically and see if any products are no longer looking their best. Brown spots on produce, for example, will turn customers off. Swap these out for a fresher replacement.
    • Have backup inventory in your truck or stored in your tent. This way, you can easily replace damaged inventory.
    • Consider offering a sale for older items to attract customers looking for a deal.
  6. Provide samples if the market allows you to. Free samples are a great way to attract attention to your booth. If you sell food items, consider handing out some small samples to show people the quality of your product.
    • Wear gloves and wash any food samples thoroughly before giving them to a customer.
    • Some farmers’ markets don’t allow samples for sanitary or legal reasons. Don’t do this if your market doesn’t allow it.
  7. Keep your money box in a safe place. You’ll be handling a lot of cash at a farmers’ market. Keep track of all of it, especially your money box. Lock it when it’s not in use, and never leave it unattended. If you need to step away for any reason, leave the money with someone you trust completely.
    • This is why you should always bring a partner or assistant to the market with you. You can both take turns watching the booth and money when one of you needs a food or bathroom break.
    • Also try to get set up to accept credit and debit cards, if your farmers’ market allows it. Many people don’t carry much cash, and you could miss out on sales if you can’t accept credit or debit payments.

Getting More Business Beyond the Market

  1. Hand out business cards at your booth. A well-designed business card can catch a customer’s eye and make them remember you. Leave a stack on your booth for people to take. Also place them in the bag when a customer makes a purchase. This can help attract repeat customers who were happy with your products.
    • A business card should have your farm name, address, contact information, and social media pages.
    • Don’t forget to design an appealing logo. If you aren’t a good designer yourself, see if any of your friends have design skills. There are also websites like Fiverr where you can look for freelancers to design your logo.
  2. Create an email list. Email lists are a great way to stay connected with customers. Leave a piece of paper on your booth inviting customers to write their name and email address. Give it an alluring title like “Hear about all our great deals!” Then plug these emails into your email list.
    • Use this email list to announce any promotions, sales, or activities you’ll be doing at your farm.
    • Don’t overuse the email list, however. Limit your emails to a few times a month at most. Otherwise people may get annoyed and unsubscribe.
  3. Ask customers to follow and share you on social media. A huge amount of advertising is done on social media now. Display your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts and invite customers to post on your page. If they take pictures, ask them to tag you.
    • Don’t be shy about asking your customers for reviews. This is your business. Advertise it!


  • If you have ever won awards for your product, bring them and display them so everyone can see your accomplishments.
  • It is possible to sell at more than one market, but you'll need a team to do this. Recruit people you can trust to run your different stands.
  • Don't forget to bring food and water with you when you're at the market too.

Things You'll Need

  • Tent, canopy, large umbrella
  • Display table, trestle table, folding table, stacked boxes
  • Produce
  • Signs and labels
  • Licenses or certification (where relevant)
  • Transportation vehicles, trailer
  • Change and a bum-pack to carry your money on your body
  • Calculator, possibly attached to the counter
  • Carry bags (optional)
Users of Guests are not allowed to comment this publication.