This past Saturday, Build It Up East TN had our first day at the Jonesborough Farmers Market. It was a little last minute deciding to attend, but one of our participants really wanted to go, so we pulled together all the supplies we needed for a booth. Someone brought a pop up tent and a table, someone brought chairs and table cloth, etc. It all came together beautifully! We had collards, red & green kale, Swiss chard, radishes, herbs, wild-harvested serviceberries, and some extra potted plants for sale.
At first we were trying to sell the greens by the pound, but no one was buying them. After a little scouting around, we noticed that the other vendors were mostly selling greens by the bunch. Luckily we had some twist ties on hand. We weighed out the produce, bundled them up, switched out our sign and voila! Stuff starting selling.
We sold most of what we brought, even though it didn’t seem like there was much foot traffic that day at the market. As we get more produce in, we’ll explore setting up at different area farmers markets to see which one does the best for us. By now, all of our participants have summer crops planted and it’s just a matter of weeks before the first summer squash, beans and ‘maters are picked! May was very dry, but the last week has brought some nice rain and plants are growing strong.
As a tip to other programs, I thought I would share a little about the Facebook Group we’ve created for our market gardeners this year. Facebook allows you to set up groups that are private or public. Ours is private and invite only, so only our participants can join. It’s become a space where folks share pictures of their gardens, ask for help and give each other support.
This last part has been the best part. One gardener had a really frustrating experience with rabbits eating her tomatoes and trying to construct a fence around her garden to protect it. She wrote a post to vent her frustration and several other participants quickly responded with words of encouragement and offers of help.
We were hoping that through our workshops and 5 hour per month volunteer requirement, that we would be able to build a sense of community around the project. However, it’s really been this facebook group that has done a lot to help participants feel like they are a part of something larger. Not only are they receiving help and supplies from Build It Up, but they are also able to give back to their fellow gardeners in a very real way.
Here’s a link with instructions for setting up a group on Facebook: