Equip Your Table

It is important to maintain a professional and consistent appearance at the market, the farm stand, or at a special event. Having the appropriate supplies, signs, scales, and an aesthetically pleasing set-up may give your farm the edge.

Market Supplies.
You will probably have to provide your own transportable tents, tables and chairs. Make sure that you’ll be comfortable for the entirety of the market and that it’s manageable for the number of people working the market to move and set up. Don’t forget to tie down your tent. Some roll over in a gust of wind! Consider weights, stakes and bungees. To keep delicate produce moist on hot days, you may want to bring a spray bottle for misting them.

Weights & Measures.
Do not forget a scale if you are going to sell items that are not pre-packaged. You can bring either a hanging or an electronic scale to market, and you must make sure that you get the scale inspected by the Department of Labor and Training's Weights and Measures Department once a year so that you can make sure you are giving your customer a fair pound of squash... or that you aren't selling two pounds for the price of one! Market scales must be "sealed for trade" or legal for trade.

  • Scale sealers can be contacted online or by calling John Shaw at (401) 462-8568 or via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Prices and Labels.
Bring a cashbox, calculator and laminated price sheet for your reference. Bring cards to label each item on the table names and with prices. If possible, laminate the cards to withstand moist produce and the rain. Also consider labeling foods in Spanish or another language if it's commonly spoken in the area of the market. It will help you communicate with customers.

Don’t forget cash. You can never have enough quarters and ones for making change!

Consider how much packaging you will use. It's easy to use too many bags and containers, which will turn off some customers who shop at markets for environmental reasons and also be a waste for you and your bottom line. (Although many customers will bring their own reusable bags, make sure you do have some plastic bags available.)

Hand Truck.
Another item that may be of use at a farmers market is a hand truck. The hand truck can save you a lot of time moving hundreds of pounds of produce, and could be the difference between needing to hire an extra hand to set up and clean up your market table.

Keeping Your Food Fresh during the Market.
Growing beautiful produce is the first step. It still needs to reach eaters as fresh as possible. Here are a few tips to keep your food safe and looking beautiful.

  • For fresh vegetables and fruit, it's fine to keep them out for a few hours on a mild day.
  • Some vegetables do great in the sun -- tomatoes and peppers, for instance. Use the temperature tolerances of your products to guide the arrangement of your display.
  • Provide shade in your display to protect heat-intolerant produce from wilting.
  • Some greens absolutely need to be out of the sun. Spraying or misting delicate greens with water helps on a hot day.
  • Don't tie closed plastic bags containing greens. The build up of perspiration clouds customers' view and is not good for the greens' longevity. Customers may not cook every day and often decide what to buy based on how long they think it will last. Learn how to best store your veggies and teach your customers. You'll increase their loyalty.
  • Keep greens and herbs like basil in containers or flats with a low-level of water for the bottom of their stems to drink from. But don't let the leaves of the herbs sit in the water!
  • The shade of trees or buildings can be priceless. If you have a choice of location, figure out where the sun falls on the market to help pick your spot.
  • Remember, you can always rotate your items out of the sun if it is getting too hot. They will cool off under your table, in the shade or cooler.
  • Aesthetics are important.
  • If you are selling meat, dairy or egg products, then you will need to keep them in coolers with ice.

For More Information on Food Safety, please see FoodSafety.gov or USDA's Basics for Handling Food Safely.

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