For the past three weeks we have been harvesting and selling our vegetables and flowers on campus. Last growing season we began having farmstands the first week of August and this season we have already had three before the end of July! This is exciting progress for us not only because it means our crops are healthier and more abundant than last season, but we also have the opportunity to earn more money to fund next year's garden intern position. The farmstands have been a great learning experience in all aspects of mangaing the production and sales of our bounty.
When we started the farmstands in '09 we decided to not set specific prices for our vegetables. Instead we established a donation system and our motto has been "take what you like and give what you like." This has served as an interesting social/economic experiment. Our profits have been steady and consistant despite the inevidable varation that this system entails. Some folks are more than generous and others are able to give what they can and still receive plenty of organic produce. Now that we have experimented with the donation system for two seasons we are beginnging to consider if we would like to maintain this mentality with our farmstands or would we like to try a different approach. We are now considering buying a scale so we can weigh the vegetables and then people can sense from there about how much things would cost in a grocery store and then base their donation on weight. We are also contemplating setting fixed prices that are comparable to local market prices.
With these thoughts in mind many other questions arise such as, will fixed prices encourage or discourage sales now that we have been functioning on a donation basis? Who are our customers and how do we ensure all SMC students have equal access to the vegetables? Another big question on our minds now that we are producing more has also been what to do with the extra produce? We have been donating our surplus to the Chittenden County Food Shelf, but are there other venues for sharing what we glean? The exciting thing about all of these questions is that the Farmden serves as an excellent opportunity to experiement with various methods and approaches to growing and selling organic produce and we have the support and flexibility test our ideas and learn from our experiences.