Farmer's Market?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by jaye, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. jaye

    jaye Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 26, 2008
    Waterboro, Maine
    Anyone else here sell their birds & eggs at farmer's market? We started late last season and are now planning for next year. (Our market season runs May-October.)

    I'd love to chat with someone who's "been there, done that" and would be willing to share ideas. I'm thinking of adding some value-added products like chicken sausage and chicken pot pies. Yes, I am aware of the legal and licensing issues surrounding processing and preparing. I'm trying to get started on a business plan and have lots of questions...
     
  2. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:Yes! However, poultry (and rabbits) are weird. They are not USDA regulated, but state regulated (unless you produce 20,000+ birds per year). So, someone in Maine needs to answer your questions. Better yet, phone your Extension agent. He or she probalby has a pahmplet or packet ready for people who ask this question.

    So, all I can say is that in my State:

    - We need an egg vendor license, which involves cleaning the eggs, clean packaging, egg stamps, annual inspection and a separate storage fridge.

    Egg sales directly from our porch are exempt. As soon as we leave our driveway, we have to be licensed.

    - Our State allows us to sell chicken meat if they were processed at a State inspected facility. They again must be stored separate from our domestic food supply. We cannot freeze or cut up the birds ourselves (although our processory can).

    Other states completely "punt" and just say they don't want their own rules, so defer to require USDA inspection. The problem being, of course, that there are very few USDA inspected facilities that deal with small producers. As a matter of fact, there are none in my State, period.


    Quote:We went down this year from 125 to 30 layers. When we calculated how much time we spent with the hens, feeding, moving tractors, washing eggs, etc. it was a brutal money loser. Even though we could sell every egg we produced at $4/dozen, it was taking 45 minutes per day. That was clearing around $2/dozen profit as well.

    The sad thing is we make around $2-3 bucks per broiler, too. The difference is it's closer to 10-15 minutes per day management. But, it's safe to say you will make as much money selling one dozen eggs as you would 1 broiler.

    But, we've never considered stopping the broiler production. Why? Because we like good chicken! We do crops of 50 or 100 and essentially, other people pay us to eat our own good chicken. It's the good life.


    Quote:You got it. You just need to be a food processor, which again is probably state regulated. We could do all those here, using a commercial kitchen, then transporting the product to the market. Everything does need to be cold or hot held, which could require mechanical refrigeration if there are meat or dairy products involved.

    Good luck!
     
  3. jaye

    jaye Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 26, 2008
    Waterboro, Maine
    Thanks! I'm planning to try the Colored Rangers next year - don't you raise those, too? I have a question about raising birds on grass - do they REALLY eat a lot of grass? My farm is almost entirely wooded and my chickens LOVE ranging in the forest. I think they like the protection from raptors (tho the woods do not protect them from coyotes!). Do you have any ideas re: ranging birds on a wooded lot?

    Trying to crunch numbers and see if we could clear $10K next season. That's our first goal...
     
  4. Bossroo

    Bossroo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 15, 2008
    Hey Greyfields, We visited in Vancouver, Washington for a couple months this past summer/ fall. We whent to farmers' markets in Vancouver and Battleground every weekend and no one had even a single egg, chicken ( live or processed), duck, goose or any farm animal or produce thereof. Only fruit and vegetables, flowers and some handmade crafts... how come? On every visit we made there were a whole bunch of people bringing their dogs, most of them off leash, sniffing at the open bins and boxes of produce. I don't know about everbody else but we were put off by this practice . We mentioned this to several vendors and all we got was shrugs and everbody does that. Grocery stores would be closed pronto by the health department if they alowed this type of practice to go on.
     
  5. ole-crone

    ole-crone Chillin' With My Peeps

    Were you at the market first thing in the morning?

    At our market, all the eggs are long gone within an hour of opening.

    As far as dogs. Our market does not allow dogs - it is a city policy.

    Making comments to vendors accomplishes nothing. They are mostly concerned about their 10x10 space and as long as the dog doesn't pee on their stuff they don't care. If you have a complaint - go to the Market Information booth and find out where you can send complaints. Chances are the Market management/board would love to have a reason to get rid of dogs at the market but those who want to bring their bothersome pooches are louder than those who don't.

    I love dogs but hate them at market. I've had my stuff peed on, knocked off, drooled on and watched calm dogs go ballistic in just a few seconds. At least one dog fight started with a small child standing between them but luckily he wasn't hurt. I watched another dog - on a leash - lurch for a passing dog. The leash was wrapped around the owner's legs and the lurching caused the leash to tighten, pop the legs out from under the owner and making her fall head first into the curb. It was a medical mess.

    We know you love your dogs but even people who like dogs don't necessarally like yours. Those cute little quirks that makes you smile makes us grit our teeth. AND there are people at the market who are uneasy around dogs. Bringing your dog to market might be ruining their market experience. Please leave your dog at home so we can all enjoy Market!
     
  6. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 15, 2007
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    Quote:Yes, I raise Colored Range Broilers and Freedom Rangers before them (same birds).

    Joel Salatin swears his feed bill was 30% lower by putting them on grass. However, I'm immensely skeptical of that claim. Birds do ingest grass in their hunt for seeds and bugs, but do not have the right stomach system to digest grass. In my opinion, the advantage of putting them on grass is for sanitation and an ethical alternative to confined housing.

    As far as safety goes, you need to confine them at night using a tractor or you'll lose many.
     
  7. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    Quote:Those two aren't good markets. The fees for the Vancouver market are too high. And I've never heard a producer I know or think highly of selling in Battleground.

    Why no eggs? Most people adjoining the urban Vancouver area set up "egg drops" and are typically fully committed that way. Why go to a market, who will take a cut of the $$, when you'd rather be home washing, labeling, packaging and selling your eggs for more money?

    Poultry is really hard in our state since there are no processors. We cannot freeze the birds and must sell them with 48 hours of being killed. The only way this is feasible is to take pre-orders and have days where people come to the farm to get their birds. Again, this day probably would never coincide well with a farm market day.

    The third problem is food safety. I'm guessing based on your description that Clark county must require mechanical freezing/refrigeration, meaning farmers could not show up with coolers full of meat for sale. This is a HUGE hurdle and county health officials don't realize how must this handicapped farmers. We are lucky in that we have a static location farm market on private property, meaning our freezers stay there all Summer.

    If we had to drag coolers/freezers to a market and run generators, we wouldn't do the market. It's not worth the PITA. Or we could buy a refrigerated truck for $10k-$20k. :|


    Quote:Dogs are only 'barred' from a booth if they are actually cooking in the booth. After that it's up to the market manager. Dogs are ubiquitous in farming life and we take ours to the market and they help us greet customers.

    All produce at the market cannot be processed in any manner, meaning the buyer most wash it when he/she gets home. So, even if dogs are sniffing it, that's OK becasue it's not being presented and sold as ready-to-eat food.
     
  8. Bossroo

    Bossroo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    At the Vancouver Farmer's market , there were 10-12 vendors selling processed Chinese food, Mexican food, hot dogs, BBQ , sish ka bob type food. I didn't see any freezers only one fairly small refrigerator by a large food vendor. I saw no evidence of any other type of animal products , live or processed offered. Many of the fruit vendors had sliced apples, pears, peaches, etc with toothpics in the slices on open dishes as samples. The larger dogs can and did sniff at them. Home made candies, Canned foods and dried fruit in plastic bagies, shelled nuts in plastic baggies, were sold by quite a few vendors.
     
  9. jaye

    jaye Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 26, 2008
    Waterboro, Maine
    FYI, we did go to market with frozen meat in marine coolers and had no trouble with any thawing at all. We leave home around 7:30AM and get back around 1:45PM. I am licensed to sell frozen and fresh meat from home and from coolers as a mobile vendor - two separate licenses. Fresh is a little more complicated, with hourly temp readings being recorded, but that went fine as well. Probably won't be the norm. There was one other meat vendor there, with lamb and lobsters, and one with goat cheese.
     
  10. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    Quote:I can't adequately explain the whole Vancouver farmers market situation. They set-up an entire City block with hopes of having a 5 day a week, largely indoor, farmer's market. The farmer's were excited, they went, nothing sold, the fees were high and they started getting squeezed out by the flea market and elephant ear type people. So they all went back over the river to Portland where the farm market allows only for farm produce, produced by the person selling it, where they get better prices and sell out.

    We have a food permit which allows us to slice up apples, vegetables, cook meat for samples on toothpicks, etc. In nowhere does it say animals can or cannot be near the food.
     

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