Getting Started at Farmers Markets Vendor Toolkit

 Selling at Farmers Markets 

Have you been dreaming about selling local foods to directly to local consumers? Do you have a home-based, value-added product that you would like to test on consumers? Do you grow a large vegetable garden and want to sell your excess products? If you answered yes to these questions, farmers markets might be a great fit for selling your product directly to consumers with less risk and high exposure. Getting Started at Farmers Markets Vendor Toolkit contains multimedia resources on seven key topics that will help you start successfully selling at farmers markets in Montana. This toolkit contains topic tabs listed below this introduction. Each topic includes short lessons, case studies, and additional key resources related to each topic. 

Before deciding to become a vendor at a farmers market, it is important to determine whether it is a good fit for you. Selling at farmers markets can be an excellent option for producers to build a customer base and get their name out to the public, but being a vendor involves much more than selling a product. If you’re thinking about becoming a vendor, consider the amount of time you are willing and able to contribute towards selling at farmers markets. Interacting and connecting with customers is vital in ensuring the success of a vendor, so ask yourself whether this is something you enjoy doing. If not, do you have an outgoing employee who would enjoy running the stand on market days? 

Each farmers market is different, so it’s also essential to do your research when deciding which market is best for you as a vendor. Does your chosen market have rules on what type of products can be sold? Does the market only allow vendors from within an established radius? Do vendors need to reserve stalls for the whole season? The size of the market you are considering can help you figure out whether you will have robust competition or if you may need to find additional avenues to sell your product in order to meet income goals. Knowing the ins and outs of nearby markets will be vital in ensuring you would be a good fit as a vendor. This section will address these important considerations and provide you with resources to set you up for success. It includes a 15-minute recorded lesson, a tipsheet, and a podcast that focuses on evaluating how to sell through farmers’ markets and finding a market right for you, as well as tips for entering a new market channel. 


If you’ve found that selling at farmers markets is a good fit for you, it’s time to think about how you can make your product or business stand out. First and foremost, you will want to develop an honest and solid story about your product and business. Think about your personal values and goals – have you faced any obstacles while on your journey to accomplish your goals? Build these challenges into your business story and allow them to show how meaningful your efforts have been. Developing and promoting this message may help you establish a loyal customer base.  

With an established story about your business, ideas for your brand name and logo may come more easily. Creating a brand name and logo based on your story can help send a message even if you do not get the chance to deliver the story yourself. Overall, finding a way to highlight what makes you and your product unique can improve your success as a vendor. The resources below provide guidance on setting yourself apart in a busy marketplace.  


Each market varies in size and rules for its vendors. Visiting potential markets more than once during a season can help identify gaps and competition for similar products before committing to becoming a vendor. After visiting the markets you are interested in, it can be beneficial to introduce yourself to the market manager.  

Building a relationship with the market manager can improve your understanding of the customer base, what kind of products/packaging are most successful, and how you can succeed in that market. The manager can help you figure out the usual amount of foot traffic, typical habits of customers, how much product you should bring, and any opportunities to fill a gap not already there. Being a dependable, flexible vendor can help maintain this relationship. Your market manager is interested in the market’s success and subsequently will want to ensure your success as a vendor, so keep open lines of communication! The resources below provide tips on how to streamline conversations with your market manager and create collaborative successful relationship at the market. 


Farmers markets continue to be a low-risk marketing strategy for beginning farmers. However, vendors often struggle to figure out the right pricing strategy. Many beginning farmers start out with a pricing strategy that reflects what everyone else is charging. While it can be difficult to set profitable yet competitive prices for your products, it is important to create a pricing strategy that will ensure that selling at a farmers market will benefit your business. When setting product prices, you will want to know your fixed and variable production costs, profit goals, current market prices, and target customer preferences. Additionally, it will be important to consider the additional time and resources selling through a farmers market takes versus wholesale. In the video listed below, you will be introduced to different methods to help you calculate prices and essential factors to consider when pricing your products. 


An attractive display can set you apart from competitors and attract wide-ranging   customers. Prices, labels, and any other information the customer will want to know should be included in your display to help make the shopping experience easy and comfortable. Your products should also be visible from three feet away  to help pique the customer’s interest. Plan! Sketch out display ideas beforehand and prepare any changes you will need, depending on your seasonal products. Promotional items such as recipes using your products or brochures about your business can extend your reach. Examples of exceptional displays can be viewed in the resources below to help guide ideas for organizing your farmers market booth. The lesson provides tips on how to create your display, including packaging considerations, to attract customers and increase your sales. 



Video lessonExpanding Your Markets

Publication: Direct Marketing 

Publication: Selling To Local and Regional Markets: Barriers and Opportunities for Beginning Farmers

While direct interactions with your customers are important in establishing customer relationships, there are additional marketing tools to help set you apart. Social media marketing is one way to promote yourself and your products.  Even though it is a “free” marketing medium, it requires time and dedication. If you are looking for help in establishing your business’s social media presence, you’ll find details on how to use different social media platforms to market your products, tips specific to each platform, and guidance on building and managing a website in the video below.  

Also, is a podcast that provides additional details on Abundant Montana and how it can be used as a resource for digital marketing.  


Video: Selling your Story: Social Media Outreach and Marketing 

Podcast: Local Foods Directory Helps Find Farmers Markets, Create a Digital Marketing Strategy-Erin Austin; Abundant MT 

VideoMake Social Media Work for Your Market: Why It’s So Important, and What to Focus on Right Now | ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture – Shannon Loy, also known as “The Social Ginger,” talks about how social media can work for farmers markets and which social media platforms might be the best choice for your market.

PodcastEpisode 318. Local Foods Directory Helps Find Farmers Markets, Create a Digital Marketing Strategy | ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture – In this episode of Voices from the Field, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist and Montana Farmers Market Network Manager Tammy Howard talks with Erin Austin of the Alternative Energy Resources Organization about its online Abundant Montana platform. 

External Resource10 Tips for Farm Social Media | Land-Grant Press – In this guide, members of Clemson Extension’s Agribusiness Program Team provide 10 tips for farmers to make their social media content more effective.  

External ResourceSocial Media Marketing for Your Farm Business | ASAP and Creasman Farms – In these 57 slides, Sarah Hart of ASAP and Colby Creasman Buchanan of Creasman Farms go over the who, what, where, when, and whys of social media marketing for farm businesses. 

External ResourceA Social Media Guide for Farmers | ASAP – In this concise social media guide for farmers, ASAP explains the benefits social media can provide a farm business and how to effectively use Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter. 

External ResourceSuccess on Socials: Tips for Growing your Social Media Presence with Unconventional Acres | The Independent Farmer Podcast – In this episode of the Independent Farmer podcast, Mel Dickenson of Unconventional Acres discusses her Farm’s social media strategy and how her farm grew from 0 to 60,000 followers on Instagram. The podcast can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. 

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