Am I Out of Touch???

moosemacJuly 1, 2012

Let me prefaces this by saying, for 30 years I have always had a large vegetable garden (and fruits). Consequently over the years I have purchased very few fresh vegetables and fruits during the growing season. This year work has been crazy so I decided to just do a few things in containers.

Yesterday, I stopped at the local farm stand (not organic) just down the road from my house. Yikes! I had sticker shock. Is $6/lb. for peas in the shell or $8 per scant quart of strawberries. Are these prices within the normal price range? I also checked out the local farmer�s market and the prices were even higher in most cases!

If that�s the case then next year I�ll hire a high school student to tend my garden. It will be a lot less expensive than buying from the stand. The plus is I know my soil and gardening methods are organic.

Your thoughts?

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We have a city ordinance for farmer's markets and fresh produce stands, and they have to set the price for their items with the prices at the grocery store. It's supposed to make the pricing equitable for everyone.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 9:23AM
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The problem I see with setting the same price for all is that it is against the Sherman Anti-trust act, I think. Having everyone agree to the same price is monopolizing the market.

Here the 20 farmer vendors at Market have prices all over the place, some are from big farms, some are certified organic, some just naturally-grown, and some just from a small plot out back. No one seems to be drastically undercutting anyone, but none of them have high prices like you are posting, moosemac. Peas, snap beans, tomatoes, squash are all $2 per pound or less. Some heirloom tomatoes are $2.50, potatoes are $1 per pound (high price to my mind), and $4 per pint of blueberries.

I would think that the Market near you will not stay in business long with such ridiculous prices.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 10:09AM
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Your prices are similar to here in coastal CT. Every year, we get sticker shock. We purchased local strawberries a couple weeks ago & they were also $8/lb. We're going to the farmer's market today. I'll report back with a few prices. In general though New England prices seem higher than what, say, grainlady seems to be able to find. Makes shortcake seem like a gourmet dessert, huh?


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 10:09AM
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Our local produce is going for $20/flat of strawberries, $3.50/quart, tomatoes, $2.75 for a quart (about 4 tomatoes in it).

Your prices are huge. $1 per pound for potatoes is sure up there, Nancy! I don't like paying $4.50 for a bag in the store.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 10:47AM
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Oops, I meant "quart" not "lb." on those strawberries.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 10:53AM
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I'm really surprised that a local ordinance can set prices. Sounds illegal. The USSR did that, and we all see how well that worked out. There are a couple of economic laws that can't be subverted by laws of governments: price something ABOVE its true market price and you get a surplus of it. And if you price something BELOW its true market value, and you get a shortage. (If by fiat the price of gold were set at $50 and ounce, all of a sudden there would be no gold for sale; no owner would be willing to sell.)

(And don't get me started on the sugar industry. To save a few thousand jobs in the US sugar industry, thousands more jobs have been moved elsewhere--Kraft moved its Lifesaver production to Canada in 2002, and Brachs moved its candy production to Mexico because the raw ingredient (sugar) was cheaper there because they didn't have the tariff that the US government places on sugar.)

The local produce stands here can set whatever price they want. I find their prices are not terribly different than supermarkets, but the quality is generally a lot better.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 11:15AM
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Moosemac, Farmer's Market prices here are very similar to your markets.

I'm very surprised too that prices can be dictated by the city. There is a big difference between farm fresh produce and what is sold in major grocery stores. Setting the prices makes it very difficult for small farmers market vendors to compete.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 11:50AM
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There will be continuing rising prices for food in the foreseeable future. At least due to the following:

1. Bad weather - changes in climate pattern has been forecasted.

2. Significant rise in living standards in other populous countries such as China, and India.

3. "----- When the United States chooses to borrow from the public both domestically and internationally, the borrowed monies are used to pay for government services. These services are paid for in dollars. In essence the government has created dollars without producing any goods and services---it has borrowed the production of goods and services of others. Until these dollars are paid back, there are more dollars circulating for the same amount of goods and services. Thus, with more dollars to purchase the same amount of goods and services, the rate of inflation rises. --------"

Here in NY, I don't need to tell you how expensive to buy in framer's markets.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 11:54AM
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Food prices also are related to petroleum, which is used both in their production and getting them to market. Also energy for storage.

Brilliant idea to hire a local kid to tend your garden, if you have the money. Would be a great learning experience for them! Lots of kids I grew up with earned summer money picking vegetables.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 12:29PM
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Is your farmers market run by the city that they can set the price you can charge? The one I belong to is not and we are applying for non-profit statice. We all set are own prices and can vary. Patty

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 12:57PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I've been buying strawberries on sale for .99 a quart for the past several months. Not local and not organic, but hey...

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 3:31PM
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We went to the Dennison Farmer's Market today & strawberry season is over so I couldn't get a current price. Corn is still two weeks away & early apples should be ready towards the middle to end of July. Actually, we got there just about 1:00 p.m. sharp & there wasn't much of anything left. They were still BBQing burgers so DH had lunch. The burger was $12.50 though & NOT grass-fed.


Here is a link that might be useful: Denison Farmer's Market, Myctic, CT

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 3:54PM
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If the market is on city property, I imagine they can impose all sorts of rules, including prices.

These high prices are just jaw-dropping for me. And $12.50 burgers? No, I don't get to any of the Farmers' Markets around here, but obviously I cannot afford to shop there.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 4:33PM
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I'm in Sacramento, CA

This morning I bought strawberries at one of the small roadside farm patches. A box with 3 overfilled pint baskets was $6.

At the farmer's market, I got 12 baskets of blackberries (about 10 oz per basket) for $20. One basket would have been $4. Corn was 4 for a dollar at one stand.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 4:35PM
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Thanks for all the info. I'm really in a quandary as to where to find reasonably priced local vegetables. Guess I'm spoiled because I've always raised most of the vegetables we ate.

I really can't afford not to hire a student to tend my garden. I ran the numbers and if I pay them for 10 hours each week for 12 weeks, I'll still be ahead on my grocery bill for the year. I can always squeeze in time to freeze and can if I do it in small batches.

I do have onions, tomatoes, cukes, sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts in containers and I will replant lettuce soon but not the quantities to get me though the year. I really miss fresh peas, haricot vert, squashes, red cranberry beans, peppers, corns, etc. What was I thinking not planting a garden! Hindsight is a marvelous thing....LOL

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 5:03PM
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Well, I live on the East coast, and around here, there's farm market prices, and then there's "from the farm" prices. Go to the markets at the end of the day. Ask the farmers if they will sell you bulk stuff for preserving at a better price. Also, around here there is a produce auction, which is where the farmers take the stuff that isn't selling. And you can sometimes get a good deal at the end of the day at a farm market if the farmer doesn't have an easy option for unloading what is left.

Or do what I do, schmooze farmers and folks with big gardens!! :) I just scored a batch of beets this weekend!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 5:14PM
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wow, that's astounding, and I don't know of anyone here who has anything close to a $12.50 burger!

Our farmer's markets are just starting, so I don't have prices on everything, but new potatoes are $2 a quart, green beans are $1.50 a pound. Cucumbers are 3/$1 and zucchini and yellow squash are 25 cents each. Snow peas and snap peas are $1.50 a pound too and I got a bunch of beets with the greens still attached, 8 beets about tennis ball sized $1.50. Lettuce is going for $1 a big bag and I picked strawberries for $1.35 a pound a few weeks ago.

Fruit will be expensive, though, as the fruit crop has pretty much been frozen out. Apples, peaches, plums, pears, cherries and apricots are all going to be darned expensive for local stuff if there is any availab at all, the farmers say 90% of the crop is lost.

I have no idea what corn or tomatoes will cost this year but last year corn was $3 a dozen and tomatoes were about $1 a pound for heirlooms, or $7 a half bushel for "field run" canning tomatoes.

The only things ready in my own garden are lettuce, radishes, herbs and garlic, which I have to go out and dig up in the next couple of days!


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 7:39PM
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Oh, and I have the first beets too, but mine aren't as big as the ones I got at Magicland, so I thinned mine and ate the "thinnings", but I'm filling in with Magicland's until my own get just a bit bigger!

It would be a great idea to hire a high school student to tend the garden, if you can find one that will do it and knows the difference between a weed and a vegetable. I haven't been able to find one here, nor one that will mow the lawn, clean the pool or shovel snow. They don't do manual labor, LOL.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 9:09PM
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About five years ago, we established a neighborhood co-op based on the idea of sharing our talents and resources. A few members have large vegetable gardens and share their produce with the entire group.

The church in our neighborhood lets us use their kitchen for the day for canning. I don't do gardening but am the food prep lady for canning and freezing. Nothing goes to waste, everyone saves money and our quality of life is better knowing there's always someone to help if a tree falls down or the power goes out.

We also do things like buy fuel oil in bulk from one supplier at a volume discount and trade finished canning products for produce we don't grow with commercial farmers.

Maybe you could have someone work your garden in exchange for a share of its results.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 8:08AM
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