Start Your Own “Front Porch Farm Stand”

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

front porch

Several years ago I spent part of October in Vermont and up state New York. The trip was everything I had seen in pictures and more. The weather was cool and crisp, the people friendly and warm, the towns historical and picturesque. But, what struck me the most was the wonderful road-side stands with their quaint “honor boxes”, overflowing with homegrown flowers, pumpkins, squash, veggies, even bales of hay and jars of honey. They were artfully arranged on wagons or tables or wooden boxes. It was wonderful to see this kind of business mindedness, even if it was on a small scale.

I was so taken by the stands that the dashboard of my rental car looked somewhat like the LA Produce Market by the time my trip was over; it was brimming with purchases. It got me thinking though; I think that’s what makes travel so wonderful – pulling together ideas from everywhere you go and incorporating them into your own life and situation.

A variation of the Vermont honor stand was born the following growing season as the Front Porch Farm Stand – sort of. I wasn’t totally convinced that my produce would be paid for, considering the area of southern California I live in, so instead of arranging it at the end of my driveway (like I had seen in VT) I made a sign from a piece of charcoal slate and hung it on the bracket of my mailbox. In colored chalk I wrote the “specials of the day” – eggs, peaches, herbs, pumpkins and gourds, and the prices. What ever excess was at the peak of freshness was sold as surplus.

It is a great way to meet new people, strike up conversations about eating locally and promote the idea of suburban homesteading. Plus, the buyers had a chance to meet the grower and be more connected to how and where their food was grown. I have even found a few people interested in buying day old chicks.

Selling summer surplus from the garden is a doable idea for any suburban homestead!

Creative Commons License photo credit: cdsessums

2 Responses to “Start Your Own “Front Porch Farm Stand””

  1. Having lived half of my life in the countryside of the Massachusetts Berkshires I am familiar with the road-side stands complete with the honor system pay boxes. It is a wonderful sight.
    My wife and I have lived in the SF bay area for some time where we enjoy operating our small urban/suburban farm of produce and chickens for eggs. As our farm has grown leaving us with a surplus of goods even after feeding our own family and sharing with neighbors have played with the idea of opening our farm for road-side purchases to the public.
    The question I have- and I am asking you- is, was there ever any awkwardness or tension among your neighbors when you began to open your home to sales.
    Specifically did the idea of traffic at your house ever seem to disturb the neighbors?

  2. jenn says:

    Hi Graham,

    I actually got the idea from a visit to Vermont years ago when I stopped by a few wagons of flowers and pumpkins on the roadside. I thought the “honor box” was so quaint, and trusting. Not something we find very often closer to big cities. Since I don’t live on a busy road the neighbors and traffic are not a concern. Another person I know of that does this has it advertised on their website with days and times of operation, but there again, it’s not a problem because the volume of people is not huge and they aren’t there for very long. Also, most customers are neighbors, it just gives them the option to shop anytime.

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