Market · Not Farming Related · Product Review · Tutorial

Being Farmers Market Vendors: How We Set Up

Lately, we have had seen several people asking about setting up at farmers markets, and what sorts of tents/tables/signage work the best. We are in our third year of vending at our local market, but I have been doing handmade markets for over a decade. I have seen many different setups that work, and many more that just… do not… We are going to share some of what we have for our market setup, and why we’ve chosen them. What works for us may not work for you. Consider this a jumping off point for your market booth.

We forgot our tablecloths this day. They were in the washer. This is why we suggest having two sets of tablecloths!

The most important item, for us anyway, is a really good, sturdy tent. We used to have a cheap canopy from Kmart, but we upgraded this year to a 10 x 10 Eurmax brand tent. It’s heavier, but it’s way sturdier, and looks much more professional. It’s available in a bunch of different colors. However, the downside to this is that the sun filtering through is tinted the color of the tent, and can make some of your products look weird and unappealing. You can purchase the tents that come with the side walls, or buy them afterwards. We bought one when we realized the sun was roasting our veggies while still on the table! The only thing we don’t use from this pack are the leg weights. They are heavy! You absolutely need tent weights though. Our “cheat”? Five gallon buckets filled with water! They come to the market empty, and weight next to nothing. We fill them with water at the market, and use a bungee cord to attach them to the top of the tent.

The next most important item are tables. We buy ours on sale from Menards, Home Depot, or wherever we find them. We like to buy them in person so we can see how heavy they are. Folding tables are easiest for us, but standard tables might work for you. They get set up in a T or L shape, depending on where our booth is located, and how much stock we have. Most customers don’t want to enter your tent, so having the tables at the front of the booth is ideal. However, if it’s really hot and sunny out, they will often appreciate the extra shade. Make sure your tables are sturdy, the same height, and able to support the weight you will put on them.

The tables will look best if covered. We ordered some inexpensive grey tablecloths off Amazon that look great against our products. Again, you can get something more colorful, but keep in mind that the sunlight might make your products look a little weird. I would personally stay away from white, black, or anything patterned. You want your products to be the focus, and you don’t want them sitting on a table that will look filthy (white cloths) or absorb all the heat and cook everything (black). This seller has a ton of different table cloth options, in different colors and sizes. They are easy to wash, and we hang them to dry. They are polyester, so they dry really fast. We definitely suggest having at least one spare table cloth, or even an extra set. We seem to forget them at home a couple times a season, and having a backup set in your bin of market supplies can be a lifesaver!

Our market banner is from Staples. We used their online design option, and picked it up in store a couple days later. This is something we have been complimented on more times than I can count. We are planning on getting another one made that is a little more colorful, but this one was made in a rush, and we didn’t have time to find the photos we needed. The good thing is, it’s inexpensive enough to just have a handful of them for different markets. We have it attached to the tent frame with bungee cords. We can never have enough bungees on the farm, and both of our vehicles have a handful stored in them at all times. You never know when you need to hold something in place!

We also decided to splurge on a chalkboard sign. It isn’t super expensive, but it’s definitely a nice bonus item that has helped us out a lot. I spent an afternoon putting our social media links on one side of it, and we have the other side as our actual advertising side. At some point, we are going to have someone redo the permanent side, and seal it with clear coat. We also suggest using chalk markers instead of actual chalk. It is easier to read, easier to clean off, less likely to be smudged by people or in transit, and just generally cleaner. The pack we got has colors that are easy to read when it’s bright out, or not so bright.

The rest of our set up changes depending on what we have for sale. We have a couple coolers with ice packs for our frozen meat. We will be upgrading to actual freezers in the near future. We also have a cooler for our eggs, with ice packs. For this one, we made sure that egg cartons would fit in without too much wiggle room. This keeps the eggs secure while driving to the market. We have brought egg cartons into stores to test fit. It looks silly, but the peace of mind knowing they won’t slide around and smash everything is totally worth it.

We have picked up a few wooden crates, canning jars, as well as pots and pans to hold produce on the table. We like to have enough where it looks like a full display, but it isn’t so full it’s going to topple over. Many types of greens do best when kept in water, so we do that as needed.

For our own comfort, we usually bring a chair, and squishy stress relief mats to stand on. This, along with comfortable shoes, makes the market day much more bearable. We are also sure to stay hydrated with water, and try to eat something somewhat healthy. It’s easy to fill up on pastries from the other vendors, but we try to also have some fruit or veg, and protein.

Finally, one of the most important things: SIGNAGE! We have laminated some cards with our farm logo, and we use a dry erase marker to put the prices and item name on them. This looks neat and tidy, and makes it easier for people to see what the prices are and not have to ask us. We either weight them down with the items we are selling, or tape them to the table/cooler.

In addition to all these big things, we have a couple bins with market supplies. Some of the supplies include:

  • Locking cash box filled with small bills and quarters
  • Our Square readers
  • A box of business cards
  • Bungee cords
  • Produce bags
  • Shopping bags (we reuse the ones from the grocery store)
  • Pens
  • Markers
  • Scissors or a knife
  • Duct tape
  • Roll of paper towels
  • A rag
  • Snacks
  • A bottle of water

This is just a little peek into what we bring to the market every week. This changes slightly depending on weather, which market we are vending at, and if we remember to pack everything. We keep everything stored in one spot in the barn, so it’s easy to go out and grab all of it early in the morning before market days. Look at this post as more of guidelines rather than instructions to follow. What you bring to the market will be different depending on what you sell, but this seems like a good spot to start. We hope you find this helpful, and we wish you success at your markets!

Frontière Farm House is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon. If you click a link in this post, we may earn a small commission. This does not cost you anything, and helps us cover the costs associated with farming.

Not Farming Related · Uncategorized

We’re On The Front Page!

Last week, we got a message online from a writer at the local newspaper. He was interested in interviewing us about the unseasonable weather we’ve had in our area lately, and we were more than happy to have him come and visit.

Photo by Brooks Hepp

Brooks Hepp, from Battle Creek Enquirer, came over that evening and we chatted while sitting on some inverted five gallon buckets, in our incredibly untidy garage. He had done some research on us, and asked some great questions. We then walked around the property so he could meet the animals and get some photos.

A few days later, super early in the morning, we received a message via Facebook. We found out we were on the front page! This was way more than we expected, and was really, really cool. We jumped out of bed and headed to the local gas station. We bought them out of Enquirers, and headed to another location as well.

The article was incredibly well written, and had some great information about us. We are so grateful for this opportunity to share more about us. You can find the full article from the Battle Creek Enquirer here.

Not Farming Related · Uncategorized

We Hate Helium Balloons

Pretty intense title, right? Well, we chose to omit some more… colorful… language from it. This should be sufficient to get the point across.

The GRAD balloon we found in the pasture, where the sheep and goats live

So, why do we hate balloons? Several reasons actually. Balloon waste has been found in the great lakes. We’ve rid ourselves of microbeads in most of our cosmetics, but the waste from balloons is going to end up in our fish. It’s killing our birds. Mylar balloons can short out power lines, and electric fences. And the worst for us? Our animals could eat them, and die. There have been several farmers worldwide who have lost livestock because they ingest a balloon. This is a long, drawn out, painful death. They can either suffocate, or the ribbon can get wrapped up in their digestive tract. Could you imagine the pain of having the circulation cut off to your intestines, and then having them ripped open, spilling digestive juices into your body? Gross.

The HAPPY BIRTHDAY balloon we found in our garden

In addition to all the pollution, there is a global shortage of helium. Several party stores have closed because they can’t acquire helium anymore. That sucks, right? Want to know what other industries use helium? Healthcare. Military. Nuclear power. Space exploration. Digital device production. [Source] So not only are we saying goodbye to balloons, we could be saying goodbye to SO MUCH technology, and lifesaving healthcare.

What can you do? STOP BUYING HELIUM BALLOONS! This removes the possibility of accidentally, or intentionally, releasing them. Balloons never make it to heaven, they end up in the pastures of your local farmers. Blow bubbles or sprinkle wildflower seeds instead. Encourage your loved ones to do the same.

Please note that I am not trying to call out any individuals. This is meant to make you think about your impact on the planet. If you feel personally attacked, it’s probably time for some introspection.

Animals · Collaboration · Goats · Not Farming Related

Something Fun: Taco The Goat Stickers

Since acquiring our hodgepodge of goats, one of the little guys has amassed quite a fan club. Taco, a tiny little thing, has captivated so many people. He is small. Like really, really small. And I think that is part of his appeal!

We decided to work with our friend Nicole Lapointe, who we’ve had do some custom art for us in the past, to design something special to honor Taco and all his tiny, goaty goodness. She is awesomely talented, and perfectly captures the subjects in every piece she creates.

I know that if Taco’s little legs were just a wee bit longer, he would certainly be up on the roof any chance he got.

Her art was sent to StickerMule where we had stickers made. Their pricing is great, and the quality is top notch. So far, we have just this one design made, but we will have more stickers made in the future with other awesome animals! If you are interested in getting your own stickers, check out StickerMule!

Custom Stickers, Die Cut Stickers, Bumper Stickers - Sticker Mule
Animals · Not Farming Related

Not Farming-Related: Nicole’s Thirtieth Birthday

This is going to be a little different than our usual content, but I hope you don’t mind. I promise there are cute animals!

My birthday is January 4th, and I turned 30 this year. Robert decided to make this birthday an extra fun one. We exchanged gifts for Solstice, and he had told me ahead of time that my gift was going to be an experience, instead of physical things, but he got me something to open and it was representative of what my gift was. I opened my gift, and immediately started crying. This is what greeted me.

This adorable sloth stuffed animal came from Amazon

I knew I would be petting sloths for my birthday! I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t stop crying, and Luna had to help me calm back down. If you’ve seen that Kristen Bell sloth video, that was basically me, but she’s prettier.

So fast forward to my actual birthday. Bob let me sleep in, and went out to do animal chores. Unfortunately, one of our Jacob ewes, Tanka, knocked off one of her lateral horns and was bleeding pretty heavily. We got in touch with our sheep mentors, and they basically said “Well, it’s cold out. She will be fine.” So on we went with our day! And a week later, she’s still alright. We headed to Hillsdale to look at a potential farm truck. Spoiler: it was worse than a rust bucket. So it was a big fat NO. We ended up getting breakfast at Coffee Cup Diner which was AMAZING! Surprise Thai food for breakfast? Yes please! We both loved our meal, and we are planning on heading back there soon.

Post breakfast, we drove to Ann Arbor for my birthday present. The Creature Conservancy is an amazing non-profit educational organization. They started with surrendered pets that people realized they couldn’t take care of anymore. Who’d have though an alligator or an arctic fox would make bad pets? We met up with our guide Patricia, and we talked about what they do there.

Our first stop was the outdoor area where the black swans live. Being that Bob and I have experience with large waterfowl (our geese) we knew we didn’t need to get any closer than necessary. They are cool looking, but a whole lot of NOPE!

After that, we went indoors and through the kitchen area where they prep food for all the resident animals. They get a large portion of the fruit and vegetables donated by the Whole Foods that isn’t far from them. The animals are getting a large variety in their diets at basically no cost to The Creature Conservancy, WF doesn’t need to pay for waste disposal, and it’s keeping good food out of the landfill. Everyone wins! We may be donating some extra produce to them this summer, depending on how our gardens do, and if we cannot find something closer to us.

We walked through the indoor animal enclosures, which included some gigantic tortoises, a shy eagle, and an adorable kangaroo! We learned that kangaroos are super soft. Imagine a chinchilla, but… better? She was so chill. Petting her was awesome.

After the kangaroo, we watched the resident cougar with her new toy, a paper mache “deer”. The staff added some meat to the top of it so Quinn would be able to find it. She was really cool! Bob was really excited to find out that cougars can purr.

After seeing the cougar, we headed out to see the little goats. There are five little wethers, who were absolutely adorable. They all still have their horns, which was a little bothersome for me, because I am so used to ours who mostly don’t have horns, and these little guys were spoiled as babies, so they are exceptionally needy. Two of them chewed the ends off my shoelaces. However, I still love goats of all attitudes.

We really like their hay feeder, and we might look into getting a couple for our group. We would hang them, because I don’t think they’d be strong enough to hold up our pudgy beasts.

We wandered through a few more animal areas and ended up in front of Bed Head and Lady Gaga. This was the second most exciting animal encounter for me. Porcupines are an animal that makes me go mushy inside. I think they’re so silly and adorable looking, and I found out we would be feeding them sweet potatoes. We also learned they are basically garbage disposals and they love almost any produce that Whole Food donates!

Post porcupine perusal, we walked through the larger indoor area where the majority of the animals live. They had Macaws, which were loud, warthogs, who were kind of terrifying with their tusks, binturongs (that I didn’t get close enough to verify if they smell like popcorn), and many others. Finally, we went up some steps to where the most important animal encounter would occur.

The first sloth to come out was Poco. He was huge, much larger than I thought a sloth would be. I don’t know what I expected, but he moved faster than I thought possible! But we had grapes for him, so I totally understand his excitement He eagerly gobbled them off the straws Patricia shoved them on. Shortly after, his girlfriend Annie came moseying on out. She had a baby a few months ago, and it’s so stinking adorable, I almost cried.

Annie and baby sloth!

After the sloths, we headed back to the car and I promptly started crying. I was just so overwhelmed with all the amazing things I’d just seen, and couldn’t hold it in anymore. Bob was actually surprised that I didn’t cry while petting the sloth. And for those who are interested, sloths feel sort of like grey hair does.

Earl Grey was mine, and Aztec Chocolate was Bob’s

The rest of the evening included a visit to TeaHaus in Ann Arbor for macarons and tea. Which were both tasty. We also had No Thai for dinner, which was honestly the perfect way to end the evening! Nothing fancy, just something that would fill our bellies.

This was possibly the best birthday I’ve ever had, and I am so grateful we got to spend the day together. The weekend continued the festivities, and we went to Detroit and partied with many of our friends. Nothing will ever top this weekend!