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Author Topic: Market Gardening  (Read 1506 times)

Bramble&Rose Dairy

  • Joined Dec 2017
  • Warwickshire
Market Gardening
« on: January 28, 2020, 09:08:51 pm »
Hello  :wave:
I was wondering if there is anyone here who does market gardening? OH and I are looking at different ideas for a business from home on our little smallholding, and this is one of the ideas we've had. We've got absolutely no idea what it entails though so all advice, tips and comments would be very welcome!!!  ;D

We have 10 acres in Warwickshire, very fertile land, good drainage. I am from a commercial farming background, OH no farming in his family at all. We have four milking goats with 4 1/2 acres medieval ridge and furrow which is permanent pasture. Weaners kept all year round for the freezer to use surplus milk and any garden waste. 1/2 acre of garden for our fruit and veg. Hens and ducks for meat and eggs. Apart from hen run, house and farm buildings, we have another 4 acres which we would like to cultivate for stock feed for our goats and pigs. It's a lot of land though and we thought we might be able to do something profitable with it?!
Any suggestions??  :thumbsup:

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2020, 03:41:32 pm »
Running a market garden AND a smallholding is probably timewise near impossible. If you want to find out more what's involved just go to Charles Dowding's website and Youtube channel. In one of his videos he mentioned that it takes about 60 hours per week to run his garden in summer (he has help!)... and I think he delivers to a very local shop...

I think having a large polytunnel would be helpful, so you can a) start off your plants in good time and b) have produce in winter, and c) be able to have tomatoes and peppers reliably, so you could offer something much better than the supermarkets...

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2020, 05:28:42 pm »
  Somewhere I have a little book which goes through everything you need to know to set up a market garden, including costings and when to sow your crops for a continuous  supply. I can't lay my hand on it in my overstuffed bookshelves, but I think this may be it:


 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gardening-Profit-home-market-garden-ebook/dp/B00G8OBYLQ/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=market+gardening+books&qid=1580318265&sr=8-2


If not there are several other books out there on market gardening, just do a search.  When I was considering doing just the same, I fell down on being able to supply year round.  Our climate where we are is just too wet and cold and when you are supplying a shop, or filling green boxes, you have to produce enough year round, preferably without importing.  Another idea is to join an existing supplier to grow specific foods for their scheme.
For me, as well as having the climate against me, my health collapsed early on and I realised that growing to supply others is immensely hard work for little reward.  Have you thought of growing flowers as an alternative, or another niche market?



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Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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Bramble&Rose Dairy

  • Joined Dec 2017
  • Warwickshire
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2020, 06:27:53 pm »
Thanks Anke! I'll have a really good luck at that  :thumbsup: True about the time-we might be trying to stretch ourselves too thin. OH has his own business and I work part time...hmmm  ???

Bless you, Fleecewife, that's wonderful! What a cracking little book. Looking at that I've seen a couple of books by a man called Eliot Colman- one on winter produce as well so that might be well worth a read! I'm sorry it didn't work out for you  :(  Flowers? What do you mean?
« Last Edit: January 29, 2020, 06:37:57 pm by Bramble&Rose Dairy »

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2020, 06:57:48 pm »
There's apparently quite a market for British grown cut flowers, including wild flowers, especially if you can get them to London.  With people more and more aware of 'food miles', there is a corresponding flower miles.  Also fashion likes  bouquets for weddings made up of wildflowers, which have to be grown locally for climate and distance travelled to market.  You might also find a market in large hotels and restaurants locally for flowers for tables and entrance halls
I have seen two reports of people with land specialising in growing flowers for market, one was I think in one of the smallholding magazines last year and I don't remember where I saw the other, perhaps Countryfile?  You have the same demands for a continuous supply, but I think people mostly would expect flowers to be seasonal.  Customers are also learning to accept that locally grown food is seasonal too.
There are other specialities such as growing herbs, and microsalads for restaurants.


I agree with Anke too that time would be against you for market gardening - things like weeding and even harvesting take ages - every task takes longer than expected  ::) :garden:
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

Terry T

  • Joined Sep 2014
  • Norfolk
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2020, 07:21:23 pm »
I run a market garden, smallholding and work part time and it does keep me busy but it’s really satisfying.
I sell veg as veg box as this is more lucrative - from June to Dec. Winter crops are in the ground for so long before harvest that they aren’t really cost effective. Advice I was given before starting was to buy in staples such as potatoes, onions, carrots and Brassicas to save you some work. I didn’t follow this advice however it does make a lot of sense.
Certainly worth considering further and polytunnels are invaluable for good quality crops. Good luck.

Bramble&Rose Dairy

  • Joined Dec 2017
  • Warwickshire
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2020, 08:01:37 pm »
That's definitely something to think about! Cottage garden and wildflowers could be a bit of niche, I didn't know people did that. What about dried flower/petal confetti? I am very interested in herbalism so growing herbs is another route I could look at.
Wonderful, Terry T!  :hug:  Are there any rules and regs for selling to the public? Possibly selling at farmers markets would be more up my street, but do you not think that's as good?

Terry T

  • Joined Sep 2014
  • Norfolk
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2020, 08:43:39 pm »
I registered my business with the local council- they popped round to do a food safety inspection which was very straightforward. And I have insurance which i think you’d need for farmers markets. I didn’t think farmers markets would be as reliable a trade - and I didn’t want to end up with waste.

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow where 20-7-4 will not feel like independence day
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2020, 11:02:12 pm »
I registered my business with the local council- they popped round to do a food safety inspection which was very straightforward. And I have insurance which i think you’d need for farmers markets. I didn’t think farmers markets would be as reliable a trade - and I didn’t want to end up with waste.

@Terry T what sort of insurance cover is that ?

Dan

  • The Accidental Smallholder
  • Administrator
  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Carnoustie, Angus
    • The Accidental Smallholder
    • Facebook
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2020, 09:39:11 am »
You might find these useful - two reports from the Ecological Land Cooperative on making an income from small acreages. The first from 2011, the second from 2018:

https://www.accidentalsmallholder.net/uploads/Small_is_Successful.pdf
https://ecologicalland.coop/sites/default/files/Small%20Farm%20Profits%20final%20web%20ready.pdf

Terry T

  • Joined Sep 2014
  • Norfolk
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2020, 06:00:44 pm »
@arobwk The insurance is basically public liability to cover food poisoning etc. I believe farmers markets insist on sellers having it.

Bramble&Rose Dairy

  • Joined Dec 2017
  • Warwickshire
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2020, 07:25:05 pm »
Thanks everyone! Dan, those links are amazing! And they have given us a few more ideas to play with  :thumbsup: :excited:
Thank you so much everyone for your time and consideration  :hug:  :bouquet:

westcoastcroft

  • Joined Oct 2016
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2020, 12:03:48 pm »
We run an Organic (in conversion) market garden on Skye producing veg bags and also cattle, sheep, pigs and soon commercial numbers of chickens. We are in out 30's, work part time and have kids. Its busy but great fun.

We do veg bags mainly and supply a few trusted cafes with produce.
Veg bags are great as you have basically sold the veg before producing it so you know it has a market, plus no sitting around behind a stall all day hoping to sell stuff either. Also no waste as its picked to order. Having a large number of customers is also good as it means if someone leaves its easy to replace them...our waiting list is longer than our customer list.

Having that customer list is also useful for marketing meat etc - for our pigs we sell them in halfs on pre-order with a deposit. If at least half the carcass isn't booked the Weaner doesn't get bought in the first place. Ditto the hens we will only buy the right number of birds to roughly cater to the number of folk signed up for eggs.

The market Garden is profitable, so are the pigs, pretty sure the hens will be.
Sheep (10 breeding Shetland ewes) so far the herd as a whole hasn't turned a profit, but they don't cost much and with pre-orders for boxed meat it is expected they will from autumn 2020. Cattle haven't had any sales at all yet.

Do you already garden? If so and you know what you are doing why not start a veg bag scheme - begin with 5 people and build up form there..just remember to include lots of variety, people love properly grown Organic veg. If not then go get some experience as a wwoofer or volunteer locally - get some experience.

Go for it - the country needs more small scale growers and farmers.

Happy to answer any specific question you may have...

Bramble&Rose Dairy

  • Joined Dec 2017
  • Warwickshire
Re: Market Gardening
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2020, 07:06:16 pm »
Westcoastcroft, I'm so sorry I hadn't seen your reply!  :o How rude, I really didn't mean to ignore you!
What an inspiration! We definitely have questions!
I have a little experience growing fruit and veg for the home but still have a lot to learn. Every year I experiment with new ideas and am in the process of building up to producing all our own fruit and veg all year round. OH has no growing or animal experience but is an outstanding crafts man and very eager to learn.
A few questions; we have 10 acres with 5 acres of permanent pasture so are wondering how to fit a business/ lifestyle model like yours onto our land, bearing in mind we have 4 milking goats, 4 Angora breeding does to sell mohair, 3 Coloured Ryeland ewes and a tup...
1) What is a veg bag- how does that set up work?
2) How many acres do you have all together and how many acres are allocated to each section i.e how many acres do you grow veg on, how many acres for sheep/ cattle grazing, how many acres for pigs, how many for hens.
3) Do you rotate sections, so using hens for clearing ground, pigs for rotating e.t.c.
4) Am I right in thinking you buy in weaners and rear calves for meat - these aren't bred on the place.
5) How do you feed stock i.e veg waste for pigs, make own hay for cattle?
6) What breeds do you keep?
7) How do you keep stock? Outdoor or indoor pigs, grazed cattle or indoor reared?
Sorry for so many questions! We are really, really interested in your template. Please pm me if you would rather not answer these questions on the thread!
Many, many thanks from Sophie  :D

 

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