If you Google Farmers Markets, you will be greeted with dozens of sites dedicated to finding farmers markets near you, links to the largest and oldest Farmers Markets in the country. If you are willing to scroll down far enough, you will find the Wikipedia definition, which states “A farmers’ market (also or farmers market) consists of individual vendors—mostly farmers—who set up booths, tables or stands, outdoors or indoors, to sell produce, meat products, fruits and sometimes prepared foods and beverages. Farmers markets add value to communities”. No where does the definition, or on the many websites does it state “Crafters” or “Artisans” featured. But I should back up.
We live in a small fisherman town in the East Bay of Rhode Island. We are surrounded by farms and farm stands. Neighbors keep chickens for eggs like some people have dogs and cats for companionship. We can drive less then a mile from our house and find corn, flowers, Christmas trees, and many seasonal produce sold on the side of the road. And just a little over a mile away, we have Mount Hope Farm. My history with the Farm goes back to before we even moved to Rhode Island. It as one of the venues that my now husband and I considered for our wedding, and though it is a beautiful location and facility, it just did not work for what we needed. After moving to Rhode Island, we couldn’t even remember where “that farm we looked at once” was located. After one year into living in Providence, we decided to move down to the town we live in now. Only after missing a turn one time on my way to our new home did I realize that we were living in the same town as “that farm”
The Mount Hope Farm is on a gorgeous piece of land that overlooks both the Mount Hope and Narragansett Bays, and is committed to preserving the history that it is settled on. Much like the rest of our town, the Farm is also committed to supporting the local community. Our family has been going to the farm for a while, and a few weeks back, after many inquiries for local fairs to sell my books, and much frustration that came from the booth fees I was getting quoted, I asked myself why I hadn’t though of local events, and more importantly, why I hadn’t thought to inquire with MHF. The first obvious answer was “Duh, it’s a FARMERS market – they sell food”, but trying to start a business has made me for better or worse, much more aggressive in getting myself out there and noticed. I e mailed the director of MHF, and inquired if they ever had or would consider having someone at the market that sold goods, not food. I received a response from the Events director who told me that she had not only considered it, but had been getting inquiries regarding that option, but had been waiting until the spring session was running smoothly. After e mailing back and forth with her, she offered two dates that I would be able to sell on, and an extremely reasonable “table fee”. One of the dates was my daughters birthday, so that was out, but the other date, I was available – but it was a week and a half away! Time to kick everything into high gear, get the word out, as I will be the first “Craft Vendor” featured, ensure that all of my inventory was accounted for, and all of my supplies are in order. I needed to find a table, and maybe a tent. I am a firm believer that when things are meant to happen, everything fall is into place, and everything seems to be doing so. I have a table (thanks to my husband) but no tent – I will be applying the sunblock until it is an inch thick probably. I am getting my signage printed this week, and the word is out via Twitter and Facebook.
Will I make money on this venture? Probably not, If I am lucky, I will break even after my expenses are deducted. But it’s all about the exposure. If I can get my name out there, I will be happy, because ultimately, my goal is to get my books out to people that can enjoy them, share them, and become regular customers. Some people say I am crazy for attempting paper products in the digital world that we live in now, but I refuse to believe that paper is gone and people can’t find a use for it.
So, if you are local to Rhode Island, come out and visit me at the Farm 9:00 – 12:00 if you aren’t, send good thoughts my way on Saturday morning. I’ll let everyone know how it goes!