Thursday, December 27, 2012

Farmers Market DIY Display

In theOrganic Gardening blog spot (here) and under FARMERS MARKETS(2013) in my website I talked about the addition of a SLANTED DISPLAY area.  This was a great addition to displaying the "small amount" vegetables like to bunches of radishes, various types of onions, peppers etc.  The SLANTED DISPLAY at the Farmers Market gave me me approximately 284 sq. inches additional display area, 2 sq. ft.

This is how the booth looked before the new display.

 For those of you are unfamiliar with participating in shows whether it is taking your crafts to Art shows, setting up at a Flee market or other business venture where you buy a booth space, display area is critical.  The organizer will only give you so much space, standard is 8 X 8 foot or 10 X 10 foot.  The trick is cramming everything you have into that small space while trying not to make it look crowded or cluttered.  The space needs to lend itself to excellent eye appeal, to attract the optimum amount of traffic.

Our booth in 2011 used two 4 x 2 foot tables set up in a 'L' configuration.  This was 16 sq foot of flat space, by adding the slanted display I increased the same space  of 16 sq. foot to 18 sq. ft., so I gained approximately 2 sq. foot of space.
  Plus I increased the eye appeal and appearance of the booth.

Not only did the slanted space give us more room and added eye appeal, it changed the look of the booth enough so that it did not "look" the same as 2011, that always gets people curious about "who is new" all public events become "gossip" central and the more you can positively affect the outcome of your traffic the better you do.  Same is true with internet traffic, same emotional response to stimulus.

BUILDING THE SLANTED AREAI am NOT an engineer so I used my eyes to construct this project.  I provided different measurements but these measurement came after the fact not planned in advance.  

  • 1 inch CPVC pipe, available at your local hardware store
  • Display boxes
  • Clips
  • Clothes Pins
  • Name badges
  • Plastic pipe cutter
NOTE:  I have built things out of PVC pipe before so I did not have to buy this pipe for this project.  I put together the pipe I had on hand.  That means you will see pipe with connections in places where connection are not necessary if you are construction this out of pipe that has not been used before. 


  1. Have the display boxes handy. 
  2. Measure the length of the boxes to get the length of your display.  Mine were 13.5 inches long.
  3. Measure the width of the boxes to get the width or slant of your display.  Mine were 10.5 inches wide.
    1. I used boxes that came with my canning pint jars when I purchased them, sturdy but not sturdy enough to withstand all the wear and tear of transportation and use.
    2. I use two boxes across so I have a total distance of 27 inches.  So I know my platform needs to be at least 27 inches wide. I have the boxes stacked three high so that gives me a height of at least 31.5 inches.
  4. So the makes a PLATFORM of at least 27 X 31.5.  Mine at finish measured 30" x 26".  My boxes were sticking off the sides (width) of my platform.  Not the best but remember I am using existing cut pieces and this was the closest I could get.  Better idea for the boxes to fit better the the slanted part of the DISPLAY.
  5. I constructed the PLATFORM first.  Having a 'T' connection at each end.  The back end will have the 'T' connection facing up to accommodate the RISER and the front of the platform will have the 'T' connection down. (Originally I thought this would slip off the table so I constructed a 'lip' with the 'T' to prevent sliding.  I did not need this, so NOT necessary)
  1. The platform is a "U".  The PVC connectors will take up around 1/4 inch of pipe so the 'cuts' you make have to be about 1/4" longer to accommodate for the connector and your measurement need to accommodate for the connector length.  Every connector will be different so you just have to experiment with the supplies you have to get the correct length.
  2. I added two connectors close to each other in the back of the platform so I could have a bar to complete the platform and a 'T' sticking up to place my risers pipe in.
  3. My RISER pipe is 13 inch tall at a 90 degree angle. 
  4. My display come apart into two sections so I did not glue any of the pipe.  At minimum only the PLATFORM and the SLANT SECTION need to be glued if you want your display to lay flat.  DO NOT GLUE the RISER pipe to the SLANT SECTION or your PLATFORM.

  1. Once the RISERS were cut and in place, measure across the top (should be the same as your support piece or bar in the platform.
  2. The TOP BAR will have 'T' connections so you can add the support bars for your angle (ANGLE BARS).  I have four ANGLE BARS with 'T' connectors at the bottom that act as 'stoppers' so my boxes don't fall off.  Constructing this top angle piece is just trial an error, unless of course you are better at this than I am.
    1. I put it together and if it didn't fit, tried it again until I got it.  As I said I was working with "used" pipe.

This is the display with the boxes on it, before I beefed up the boxes, painted the boxes add clips for stability. 
MAKING THE BOXESI used boxes that my pint size canning jars were purchased in.  They are heavy cardboard but glued together at the corners and will come apart with heavy use.  So I added glue and paper to them to make them sturdier.  If you are familiar with paper mache that is the method I used to 'add paper' to these boxes with a slight twist; I used wood Mozia Wood  glue because I wanted a water proof seal, then spray painted.
  FAVECRAFT has quite a few paper mache projects if you want to know more about paper mache.

Once I had the boxes done I spray painted them sporadically with green spray paint.

    The issue of the boxes being too big for the flat slanted portion became very evident.  Remember I said I was using PVC that was already cut and that the platform was turning out smaller than the size of the two boxes put together.  The boxes would fall off if I didn't not find a solution to bind them together.  Since I did not want one long box on three layers I had to find away to connect the boxes on the slanted platform.

I use 32 mm binder clips to hold the boxes together.

I also needed signage.  Some method of adding a price and name to each box.  Something that I could take off and store, something that would not be permanently attached.  Remember this need to travel in a compact manner.

SOLUTION:Clothes pins and name badges.  I clip the clothes pins on the individual boxes and slide the name badge on that snugly, voila removable signage.
Now the entire new display was done and looks like this:

Much better.
  In this picture foreground zucchini, going back are bags of green beans, then collards, the seed packs and dried chili pepper on the hangers.  On the slanted area on the first row left to right, sweet onions, collards and radishes.  Second row, red onions, and beets.  Third row white onions and turnips, on the left of the new display are red new potatoes.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012


While it is still the middle of winter(December 2012) we can do some planning for the 2013 Farmers Market.


Tomatoes (yellow, Rutgers, Beefsteak, Roma, and cherry)  Since we had a fairly severe drought here in my area of Missouri so the tomatoes were a little wanting, but we managed and sold quite a few.  This was the first year the we sold yellow tomatoes (requested by buyers last year) and the sold extremely well so YELLOW TOMATOES are on our list for this, no doubt.  All the other types of tomatoes were sold in previous years and were good sellers.
 (above, photo of 2011)
For the first time had a good crop of cantaloups and water melons, not only did they sell but these items really solidified us to people that we had good produce.  We had people coming back the next week to get more and only stopping by our booth to get them.  Wow, that really make a person feel good.

We planted onion plants (the ones that look like tiny onion sprout when you buy them, not the sets) and we wished we had put more of those in.  This was another veggie that people came but specifically to buy.  We plant CANDY WHITES, GIANT WHITES and REDS.  If you have never tried CANDY WHITES and you like sweet onions you are missing one of the best onions out there.  As far as I know these are not at the grocers so find a Farmers Market and starting asking the booth owner.   I can't say enough good things about them.  They are so, so good.  So we will be tripling our production of onions for 2013.

Everything else we took was our standard stuff okra, cucumbers, cabbage, string beans, broccoli, jalapenos, chili, green and cayenne peppers, lettuce, radishes, turnips, beets, zucchini, acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash, egg plant was new and sold well.  We planted brussel sprouts but because of the drought we only had enough for me and Jr, and we froze four gallon bags of those.  mmmm, good stuff in the middle of the winter.

We tried a new booth set up this year that worked very well.  I made a tilted platform that held 6 oblong boxes about 15" by 8" and 6" deep, spray painted them green.  In a space on my table that would only hold maybe 4 of these boxes I was able to get 6.  This is where we displayed the smaller or small quantity items like the 3 kinds of onions, radishes, peppers(three inserted plastic containers per box), okra, cucumbers, some squashes.  This also put the items "on display", instead of flat on the table people were able to see a better selection from a longer distance.  
(pictured above is the first day of 2012, we don't have the slanted platform up yet)
This new display area then left lots of extra room for tomatoes, cantaloups and watermelon, all of which take lots of space.

next year(2013) for the booth
I wanted to make an additional slanted platform with bigger boxes (probably 3) for the tomatoes.  I have discovered that tomatoes need to be in one layer, flat against whatever they are in.  If you stack them, you are doomed to throw away all the bruised tomatoes the public picks up and just throw back in on top of the others as they are selecting their purchases.  The key...low flat containers, single layer big enough for a good selection.  Unless it is a product that is hard, one layer with side just tall enough so product does not roll out is the rule of thumb.

Three times as many onion plants, 4 bunches of CANDY WHITES  (should make 3 to 4 row in our garden), 2 bunches of GIANT WHITES, and change for red for larger sweeter variety, 2 bunches of those.   All in all on onions we will have 6 to 8 rows.  We only had one bunch each of the onions in 2012.
ONION CONSIDERATIONS:  Onions are planted early, they like the colder weather, they mature early with most being out of the garden by the end of June and they keep fresh so they can be sold until you are sold out.  We ran out of onions by the first part of August and people were disappointed.

A larger plot of watermelons adding long oval and round solid greens and keeping our long oval and round striped.  The same size cantaloupe patch, decreasing pepper plants except for bell peppers, keeping the same amount of okra, string beans and lettuces.  Decreasing the amount of cherry tomatoes and adding the sweet grape type.  Everything else is staying the same.


Thursday, December 20, 2012


This year I am going to be planting the tomatoes that did the best for me at the Farmers Market and add a couple of new ones that were requested.

I have seeds saved from:
Roma, cherry and my yellow tomatoes.
My beefsteak and Rutger tomatoes did not do well (drought conditions) so I had enough to consume and sell but did not save any seeds.

I try to plant Heritage, Organic, heirloom, or open pollinated types of seeds.  What are Organic, heirloom, or open pollinated types of seeds?  These terms are almost the same.

The definition does vary from person to person, company to company.  It has become a very popular or trendy marketing term. 
An heirloom plant variety is one that has been valued by a family, tenderly and carefully preserved, and handed along from generation to generation.

There are some "heirlooms" whose origins were as a commercial release.  That is, they were introduced by a seed company or seedsman.  These old "commercial heirlooms" have value and are worthy of protection.

At a minimum, an heirloom variety must be, open-pollinated seed, not an unstable hybrid, and certainly not genetically modified!
 A seed which produces offspring just like the parent plants. Open-pollinated seed allows growers to harvest and save seed for the following year. 

Although I try not to use Hybrid or GMO seeds I may just have to plant a few because I had requests for a grape tomato.  So far I have not found one but still looking.

My seed catalogs for 2013 should be arriving soon so I may get some selection that are no hybrids from there.  If you haven't already here is a good site for a collection of FREE SEED CATALOGS.  

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012


December 2012, FOR GARDEN IN 2013

About this time of the year(cold, winter) I start wondering what I am going to plant in my garden for the next year.

Everything I planted in 2012 sold well at the Farmers Market except for the collard greens.  So the planting will remain the way it was.

My seedling that I started indoors last year did very well in the garden and selling at the Farmers Market.  Tomatoes sold the best, then peppers.  Requests were made for cucumbers, cantaloupe and watermelon, so I am adding those and subtracting, cabbage & collards. 

Jr. has put a greenhouse for me so the mess won't be in my kitchen this year like is was last year.  I will still be using toilet paper and paper towel rolls(see video) to start my plants.  I learned this year to replant my starts just as soon as I see them pop up and transplant into "selling" container only once.  I had transplants some of the starts three times because they out grew the first replanting pots(lesson learned).

I will be planting

adding a requested new one: grape(red and yellow)
slicing(straight eights)
large oval stripes
round stripes
add this year: large and round solid green
large white
candy whites
My onions sold extremely well so I will tripling those.