I'm looking for ideas here and I may come up with a few to share.
Biggest issue I see at the moment is how the heck to haul living produce to market and keep it looking marketable during transport and on the market tables.
Needing to keep the labor reasonable but also need to haul enough produce to market and be able to set up in a reasonable time without rendering the product unmarketable.
Goal, to get enough product to market to make it profitable to pay the booth fee, travel costs, person tending the market booth, and production costs of the produce AND have a little profit left over.
That would be the trick.
From what I see at my local farmers market here in Torrance, Ca there are a LOT of people selling the same stuff. The only real decision maker is who's looks the best and price.
To keep the produce fresh, the trick I've heard is to take the veggies right into a refrigerator. This closes the pores so it stays fresh. Also with micro veggies, I've seen people package them 100% including the grow cube to keep the roots intact. I have never seen that at a farmers market. Could be an edge to rise above the competition. If your growing them in a zip tube, you could even just bring the whole tube and let people pick their own fresh while still growing. This could also give you an edge over the competition, but I think it would take up a lot more room in a van than just boxes of cold stuff in grow cubes (mini veggies). Would also be a good promo for aquaponics (another thing I have never seen at a farmers market).
I'm interested in hearing if anyone doing their growing aquaponically and selling at farmers markets advertise that they are growing AP? And if so, how that has affected sales compared to the mass of other farmers at the market? Weather it has given you an edge, or made it more difficult?
I've been selling produce at Markets for a while now.
Way back when I was at the old house I actually had a permanent booth at a market where I left a system set up for a while and I spend a heck of a lot of time explaining aquaponics to people. Now I have a Market trailer with a large cooler on it so I can bring enough to market to maybe be worth while. I have some people buy but my problem in my area is that many of the markets, most people are really looking for the cheapest stuff and they don't care much about the whole "local or organic or pesticide or toxin free or even flavor (because they have never compared the difference I guess)" I get some customers who are repeat customers every week but at this point I don't think I've found any markets that I sell enough at to make continuing to go to market worth while.
With the towers or the living walls it is hard to bring enough to be worth it even if you did manage to sell out AND most of the customers are not actually willing to pick their own, they just don't know how and need help or education. Then again, many customers don't recognize lettuce unless it is a perfect ball shape that is greenish white and wrapped in plastic and others don't recognize growing veggies as produce unless it is bright red and basically round (in other words they only see the Fruit as produce.)
I'm starting to think the only way to make it around here is to run it more CSA style with people buying subscriptions for weekly produce pickup/delivery.
As to harvest and immediately after harvest handling. Most above ground crops are going to have their best water/nutrition content/quality if harvested first thing in the morning and chilled immediately (but without letting it dehydrate.) Root crops will have their best quality/nutrition content if harvested late afternoon/early evening after it cools down a bit.
What would you want to do differently with year round Produce? You can make a schedule (Quarterly, every 6 months or full year) and advertize and price based on what you can provide for that time period for subscriptions.
Or some people sell through "online" markets.
WHEN we get big enough, hopefully in a year or so, I want to try to go the FARM SHARE route - something like a CSA but with the FARM SHARE, individuals "buy" a share of the farm membership for X number of weeks. Here in SW FL thinking of a membership of $50 or so for Jan. 2 thru Apr. 30 with weekly 10 to 15 produce/fruit item boxes for $25 BUT with the farm share, members would also be able to buy the fish PLUS we have chickens, ducks, turkeys, sheep and goats. Sheep and goat milk would be available along with butters and cheeses and their meats! There could also be a door to door system with the farm share!