Kelso Farmers Market (c) WikiCommons
A great way to start “selling your own”. There are currently 500 Farmers’ Markets in the UK with over 70 in Scotland.
The Camerons Tea Room & Farm Shop is now open for business on Glenlia Farm in the village of Foyers in the Highlands of Scotland.
It is situated a short stroll away from Camerons Holiday Cottage between Inverness and Fort Augustus on the peaceful South side of Loch Ness. Perfectly situated for refreshments while staying in the holiday cottage. It is only a quarter of a mile from the famous Falls of Foyers waterfall. Look out for the sign to Camerons Holiday Cottage, Camerons Tea Room and the highland cattle in the fields.
We love this one: Bespoke Blooms By Maybury on the Isle of Lewis!
Pick Your Own/Rent a Tree
Whilst fruit and nut crops can be highly productive, getting the labour to harvest these crops can be difficult and/or costly. One workaround to this issue is the pick-your-own (PYO) and rent-a-tree models. The PYO model will be familiar to many people already and consists of letting customers harvest the crops themselves (usually fruit like strawberries, though veg like peas are sometimes included) and then weighing the gathered produce before purchasing it. Craigie’s Farm near Edinburgh uses a traffic light system to indicate how bountiful each crop is for picking at the time of visit as well as an entry voucher system and a calendar for when each crop is in season.
The rent-a-tree model works quite similarly and allows customers to rent a single tree for a season (this could be a fruit or nut tree) which they can visit in summer/autumn to harvest it. In the meantime, these trees are maintained by the farmer or farm workers. Bentinck Farm is a good example of the rent-a-tree model and they also encourage renters to visit in the Spring to view the trees while they are blossoming. Additionally, the purchasing and planting of trees can be covered by the rent-a-tree model as demonstrated by the worker’s cooperative OrganicLea, and in this way can be effective for preserving traditional varieties of fruit and nut trees. For both these models, there are numerous examples throughout the UK and there is even a directory of PYO UK farms.
PYO and rent-a-tree operations are particularly suited for crops that need to be harvested within a short time period and whose ripeness can be easily assessed. Their main advantages are saving on farm-labour, handling, packing, storage and transport costs and publicity for the farm’s other produce. Some potential disadvantages to consider include the need to offer adequate parking facilities and/or harvesting equipment, careless picking causing damage to the plant or crop loss (could be mitigated by informing pickers of best harvesting practices) and safety/liability issues from accidents (ensuring the area and equipment customers have access to is safe and obtaining insurance is a must) (Lev 2016). Specifically for rent-a-tree operations, it is worth considering how often you want to let customers visit their tree in order to avoid dealing with excessive visits from customers. One last consideration for both of these models is the time it will take and the skills needed (e.g. social media) to effectively promote your farm/croft and the administration of customers. The Lathcoats Farm FAQ for their PYO/rent-a-tree operation is also a useful example for considering how to structure your own operation.
Veg Box Scheme
Bonobo Cafe’s Veg Box
Machines can be a great way to sell seasonal fruit and veg while you do something else! A 28 compartment vending machine costs around £8,000. A well-placed vending machine will pay itself off in around 12 months.