The Produce Stand is officially open! It took three summers for me to be able to complete this project, but it’s finally finished! Now I just need to get people to know that it’s here… I am so excited to have this project completed, because it’s been so much longer than just three summers in the making. As I hung the awning for the first time, it dawned on me that I’ve been dreaming of a stand like this since I was a little girl.
While I put the finishing touches on the stand, I thought about how a few years back, I put some logs and a board out near the road with crates of plants I had pulled from our garden…countless volunteer tomatoes. We planted a big pumpkin patch that spring, and we had so many pumpkins for sale. But I realized that if I wanted to keep doing that, I’d need a better way to sell my pumpkins. I needed something to catch a person’s eye and to want them to come back again and again. I had a few ideas, but the one that got me really excited was a produce stand.
Yet this notion goes further back than that. As I thought back to my first stand here at the end of our driveway, I was reminded of another stand I set up years ago. At the age of maybe 7, I was already an entrepreneur. Climbing apple trees in our yard and on my grandparents property that bordered our own, I gathered apples from the branches and collected them in a grocery bag. I towed the card table out to the front yard, a folding table, the apples, and my blue looney toons crayon box. I brought the change from my piggy bank, made a sign, and tried selling apples from the end of our driveway.
This idea of selling something probably started after a visit to one of our cousins. We had relatives that lived in town or had more traffic, and we’d occasionally sell Kool-Aid with our favorite people. We came home and set up our own stand. Despite not getting customers, I was not discouraged and set up my apple stand that September. It turns out that our driveway, or our road was not the ideal location for an apple stand. Out in the country it was not a high-traffic road. My only customers ever were my grandparents, and I made less than a dollar in sales. Still I know I set that stand up more than once.
That memory got me thinking. Why did I try selling apples? It was more than just a desire to make some money. I wanted to sell people something that I loved. My mom made the best apple crunch pie, and I figured other people would want to make that too. Besides, apples are delicious! Who wouldn’t want to buy some?!
Well that memory led to another and another and another, until I started seeing just how long I’ve been wanting to run a stand like this. Throughout my childhood, my mom would take us to apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and craft barns. She loves places like that, partly for her own nostalgic reasons, and that in turn created a love of those things in me. And I love fall and always have. I remember “discovering” fall when I was being driven to preschool one day. The leaves were suddenly not so green anymore, and it was magical watching them transform.
On top of that, over the years I have developed a serious love of gardening. It never ceases to amaze me how one seed can grow into something so massive, and how that thing can have so many more seeds inside of it. I love sharing the food I grow with the people around me, and even more than that, I love making nourishing meals for my family. Initially, I wanted to sell produce because I had more than I knew what to do with. But then I started wanting to sell more because I wanted other people to be able to eat all of the delicious things we get to eat. Suddenly, that passion that started with selling apples as a 7 year old returned.
In the end, all of those years of influence, all of those dreams and that passion, they turned into the start of what will hopefully someday be a successful homestead business. The produce stand is just the tip of the iceberg, and the little we put in the stand this year will hopefully be followed by an abundance in the coming years. We still aren’t ready to share all of our hopes and plans, but after a lot of thinking, experimenting, and researching, we are getting ready to take those next steps.
As of right now, though the stand is complete, it’s still not fully formed. I am trying to decide how to handle payments in this cash-free world… I intend to keep a box for money at the stand, and it will mostly be run on the honor system. I have more things I want to put into the stand, and it’s not going to just be produce. There are signs for the road that need to be made, and I’m still debating how I want to advertise. (I quit Facebook at the beginning of the year for good reason, and I’m not sure I want to go back to it.)
This year, we will have limited stock in the stand. We have a little baby this year, and I went into this spring with the intention that I would not stress myself out over trying to grow tons of food. I’ll put up as much as I can for my family, and we’ll sell what we don’t have the time or energy to put up. I intend to add a few more non-produce items to the stand throughout the remainder of the season, and I am going to be putting some free recipe cards into the stand for cooking and baking inspiration.
My intention is to test out a few different days of the week to see what works best for us, and then set specific days of the week that we’ll have the stand open. The last thing I want is for people to make the trip out, only to have the stand be empty! I’m also planning to properly set up a page on this site where you can see what kinds of things are in the stand and check what days we’ll be open.
If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or if you come to the stand and have any comments, I would really love to hear from you! Let me know what you’d like to see more of, what we could maybe do better, and what would help bring you back time and time again! And remember that this is a work in progress. There is more to come… the timeline is just not defined yet!