Farm Stand Ideas for the Small Farm

The farm stand is an idyllic part of rural America.  It allows products to be sold where they are grown, often on an honor system. A farm stand can be an important source of income for a small farm or in some cases, multiple farms, in the community. Each one is different, reflecting the personality of the owners.

Roadside Culture Stand created by Peter Flannery in 2009 as part of The Wormfarm Institutes artist and farmer collaboration

Each state, and often counties within states, regulate farm stands differently.  Larger buildings often require building permits, while mobile stands or small non-entry structures are generally less regulated. A farm stand might also require land-use permits or compliance with health and safety codes.  Some states allow farm stands to sell “incidental retail items” such as value-added products, t-shirts, and bottled drinks, for example.

photo credit Karin Lidbeck-Brent Photography

There are several features that a good farm stand whether temporary, mobile, permanent, staffed, or honor system should include. Every farm stand should have clear signage.  What you are offering for sale should be able to be seen from a distance, whether you attach signs to the structure or stick them in the ground, people should be able to read them from the road. Hours or days of operation should also be clearly posted, so that even if you are closed one day, the customer will know when to come by next time.  Prices should be clearly listed for every item for sale.  This is especially important for stands operating on an honor system. Wether you use a chalkboard, dry erase board, or paper signs, prices by piece or pound (not recommended for self-serve stands) should stand out to the customer.

In most cases your stand should have the capability to be closed up for the off season or days when you are not open.  Many stands feature windows the fold out or can be lifted up, and tables that can be brought out during hours of operation.

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Faith Farms, Viroqua, WI

If you have an honor system stand, leave paper, writing utensils, and a calculator for your customer, and consider posting a phone number if they need to contact you.  Also, it’s a good idea to have a locked, bolted cash box, that you check regularly.

Old Gates Farm Stand, Castleton, VT

Colorful chile ristras hang from the window of an old pickup at Elizabeth Berry's ranch near the village of Abiquiu in northern New Mexico

chilies on truck photo credit

Pedal Powered Produce stand “Folding Farm”

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