Start Selling Your Vegetables, with the Honor System!
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Are you harvesting more produce than you can possibly consume yourself? Do your friends and neighbors avoid you half-way through summer because they know you'll be unloading pounds and pounds of overgrown zucchini onto them? Why not start selling your produce?! It's a great way to make a little extra "seed money", and you get the satisfaction of sharing your homegrown vegetables with your neighborhood or community.
If you're like most people, and don't have time to sit out and monitor your stand, try running it on the "honor system". Most will look puzzled when you mention this idea to them, but once you explain how it works and that the success rate is actually quite high for these type of stands your friends will quit thinking your crazy and that you're actually onto a pretty good idea!
First, you're going to need some type of structure. Consider the type of climate you live in, what the weather is like, and how big or how small you want your stand to be! It could be as simple as a patio table with a large umbrella over-top, or a gazebo. If you really want to get serious, you can build a small structure with tables, shelves, and doors you can lock up at night. Just make sure to check with your local state, city and county rules and guidelines when opening your stand.
Once you've decided what type of set up or structure you'll be using for your farm stand, start thinking about how you will keep your produce fresh. Does it need to be refrigerated? Maybe a small miniature fridge could be plugged in close for easy access. You can usually do just fine with some rubber-maids holding some ice/or water in them to help keep produce with leafy greens or roots fresh.
Make a few signs that are easily seen on the roadside so people will know what you're selling! You can have a banner made, or even just paint one yourself on some old rustic wood.
Figure out cost. What are your vegetables worth to you? Come up with a fair price that both you and your customers can appreciate.
Now for the "money box". Since no-one will be working your farm stand, you'll need a place where customers can pay for their vegetables. It can be something as simple as a box with a piece of wood in it to hold the bills down from blowing away, or something more creative like a mail-drop box where you put the money inside and it actually falls into a more secure place, like the inside of a garage. When researching this method of running a farm stand, you'll probably learn that in most theft cases, people weren't stealing vegetables. They would try to steal a money box if one was left out. Remove the temptation of a money box being left out, and you've got little to worry about, and most of the time if someone steals a vegetable, they probably really need it. On the other hand, if you live in a small, or rural neighborhood theft of a money box probably wouldn't be a threat at all. Customize your money box to be something you're comfortable with and have faith in.
There's an interesting phenomenon with running things on the "Honor System", and here's why it works. First off, people like to feel good. Everyone does, and when you give someone the opportunity to be honest and trustworthy, it inadvertently makes them feel good inside. People that come to your stand will get an instant "feel good" when they arrive and find out that you are trusting them to do the right thing, and they'll feel good a second time around when they actually pay and pay honestly. You're likely to get returning customers to stands ran by this system because everyone likes to feel good, and in a world where little trust is given these days to anyone, at least we can feel trusted when we're picking up fresh produce from our neighbor.