I love baking and sharing my journey of becoming a full-fledged, real-deal cake decorator.
Farmers Markets Are a Great Opportunity for Beginners
As a novice baker, many summers ago, I decided to take my baked goods on the road. I usually bake for family and friends and was so excited to find out Virginia allows home bakers to sell their baked goodies at the Farmer's Market. WooHoooo!
Initially, I signed up for a farmer's market that cost $30 a day for a spot. Luckily, I met some awesome folks who had an extra spot at another local farmer's market that was $50 for the season. Hey, that sounded pretty good to me, and the atmosphere was more communal, just what I was looking for. So I decided on a menu of six different flavors, bought an acrylic display case to keep my goods fresh and critter-free, got a cool sign made online, and I was good to go!
How Can I Sell at the Farmer's Market?
- First make sure you contact your local tourism bureau or farmer's market coordinator. Each city has its own rules and regulations regarding ingredients allowed, temperature control, and so on. Some states have Cottage Food Laws that allow home bakers to sell food prepared in home kitchens at certain locations.
- You will definitely need a table. I prefer the standard six-foot foldable table found at stores like Wal-Mart and Target. A cheery tablecloth wouldn't hurt either.
- Some farmer's markets provide an overhead canopy; others require you bring your own. Be sure to purchase a canopy that is easy to put up, because you will be putting it up every week. A bright cheery color would attract business as well.
- My husband had a sign made online. Make sure you choose an eye-catching logo and colors.
- We invested in an acrylic bakery display case, and I believe this was the best decision we made. It kept our cupcakes fresh and critter-free all summer long. Awesome!!
- Come up with a menu, but be flexible. See what the folks like and go from there.
- Lastly have fun!! Although my husband and I stayed up many nights baking cupcakes for the next morning, the feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day was unbelievable.
I tested the waters and met some pretty awesome people. Please support your local Farmer's Market. If you have a specialty, give it a go one season. I can't wait till May....
Beautify Your Space
It is very important to create a beautiful space when selling at the farmer's market. Along with an eye-catching sign, you should have a colorful, multi-level display. Chalkboard signs are all the rage, and they are a simple, reusable signage choice. I ordered my custom sign online at BuildASign.
Be sure to label everything! Toss in a few baskets and pretty blooms, and you are well on your way to a booth no one will miss!
Coming up with convenient, affordable packaging was not as hard as I thought it would be. While browsing Pinterest I found a very frugal option. I purchased clear plastic 9 oz. tumbler cups and clear cellophane treat bags. The cups fit perfectly inside the bags and only require a ribbon to close. After packaging hundreds of cupcakes this way, I have to admit it can be annoying, because you have to drop the cupcake just right to sit straight in the cup. But after you get the hang of it, it's not that bad. The cost justifies a little frustration. I truly love this packaging option despite a few crooked cupcakes.
Questions & Answers
Question: We sell baked good at farmer's markets in California. We just started and business has been great. I am concerned about how to keep our items from melting when the summer comes. Any suggestions? We sell everything from cookies to coffee cakes, cinnamon rolls, cakes and artisan breads.
Answer: It is really difficult when it gets really hot. Here's what I have done in the past. An acrylic case helps a lot. I usually refrigerate cupcakes prior to placing them in. Be sure to keep case out of direct sun. Another option is to display a few and keep the rest in a large cooler with dry ice on hot days.
Question: How much of each baked good should I bake?
Answer: It really depends. You may want to ask some of the market regulars what the weekly turnout is and go from there.
Question: Did you have to apply tax when selling your bake goods at the farmers market?
Answer: Yes, I do apply tax.
Question: Is there a fee to pay to sell baked goods at a farmers market?
Answer: Yes, there is usually a fee.
Question: How many cupcakes can you fit on one tray? What size is your case?
Answer: I believe I have the 22×22 case. I can fit about 6-7 dozen cupcakes in the case.
Question: What size are those cups?
Answer: They are the 9oz cups.
Question: How far in advance can you bake your products?
Answer: I usually bake the night before. It really depends on your baking style.
Question: What do you usually charge per item?
Answer: Each item has a different price point. It totally depends.
Question: Where do you purchase (online or retail) the 9oz Clear Tumblers with the tops?
Answer: I purchased the cups and tops at Sams Club.
Question: How did you prevent the melting of buttercream while displaying in a farmers market?
Answer: I kept my cupcakes in a case out of the sun. On really hot days you can have your baked goods in a cooler and just display a few samples.
Question: Where do you find the lids for the 9” solo cups?
Answer: I found the kids at Sam's Club.
Yasuko on June 25, 2020:
Do we have to use commercial kitchen or it’s ok to use home kitchen to bake goods to sell??
Daphne Ceto on June 15, 2020:
My daughter wants to start selling baked goods at our local farmers market. She’s very talented and is willing to pay for all the necessary expenses. We are just figuring out what permits we may need and how old you need to apply for them. So if you can answer, what permits may we need to apply for and how old do you need to apply for them?
Teru on May 06, 2019:
How much are you making a day? Is it worthed?
Inda Blackwell (author) from Hampton Roads on July 10, 2018:
Hello! You can purchase 2" round labels at walmart or an office supply store. I purchase the Avery brand and print my own labels. I have heard great reviews about the companies "Labelin" and "Vistaprint" as well, if you prefer to outsource.
ChristiCoffey on July 10, 2018:
How did you make (or where did you order maybe?) the round labels for your cupcakes?
Inda Blackwell (author) from Hampton Roads on May 17, 2018:
Hello! I use the 9 oz. Clear Solo brand cups. Hope this helps!
Joanne on May 16, 2018:
Hi Inda....I was wondering what size paper cup you use for your cupcakes. I find it difficult to find the taller sized ones.
Inda Blackwell (author) from Hampton Roads on April 30, 2018:
There are a few options. You can keep most of your cupcakes in a cooler. I did this on really hot days. You can also use freezer packs conveniently placed in the corners of your display case. Good luck!
Melissa on April 09, 2018:
Hi Inda, I'm thinking about selling my gluten free, vegan baked goods at our local Farmer's Market. Are you still selling at your market? Is the profit enough to justify the work? I'm trying to figure out all of the expenses and details - in the brainstorming stage! :)
Amanda Walters on April 04, 2018:
Did you have to get a permit from the Health Dept. or anything?
Judy on April 01, 2018:
To keep baked goods with fillings or frosting that shouldn't be in the heat, use freezer blocks in your acrylic case.
Aj on March 04, 2018:
Really liked the ideas!
Iva on January 30, 2018:
I’m wondering how to keep baked goods with frosting from melting in the Summer heat? Did you ever run into this problem without refrigeration?
cheldilocks on November 04, 2017:
You inspire me..I'm also a novice baker (youtube learner) and I'm just starting to love baking seriously as I own my time as a stay at home mom.I also want to sell my goodies on the market..thank you for sharing your ideas and experience..i learned alot and having the urge to go live my dream..thank you..
May God bless you
Sandi on October 08, 2017:
Love the ideas!
Debbie Conkle on April 02, 2017:
Curious as to where you bought your acrylic display case, and would it fit Jumbo size muffins and cupcakes?
Inda Blackwell (author) from Hampton Roads on March 26, 2017:
You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by!
Sue on March 26, 2017:
Thanks so much for the useful information.
Emilee on March 13, 2017:
Where did you get the acrylic display case? I'm looking for something similar but they are all pretty expensive.
Inda Blackwell (author) from Hampton Roads on March 03, 2017:
You can definitely make money selling baked goods at the farmer's market! Personally I love to do it for exposure and testing out new recipes.
glenda on March 02, 2017:
You didn't say if you made any money doing this?
LaTasha on September 12, 2016:
Hi, Inda! Thank you so much for your response. Hopefully, the City of Suffolk will get on board soon. I wish you continued success with your business. Take Care!
Inda Blackwell (author) from Hampton Roads on September 07, 2016:
Hello Latasha! Unfortunately if you live in Suffolk you can not bake from home. You can get licensed and approved to use your home as an office and bake from another location (family members home in another city, rent a space with a culinary incubator etc.) with the cottage food law. Hopefully things will change soon.
LaTasha on September 07, 2016:
Hi Inda, I live in Suffolk also and I would like to start a home based bakery. I love your blogs and websites, and I have been inspired to start one of my passions. Did you have to obtain a zoning permit to bake from home, because it seems really difficult in the city of Suffolk?
Inda Blackwell (author) from Hampton Roads on August 24, 2016:
Hello Joe! On really hot mornings I suggest using a cooler. I actually missed a few markets because it was just too hot. I also prepared other pastries on those days.
Joe on August 24, 2016:
Did you have any problems with frosting holding up on hot summer mornings?
Lisa on June 07, 2016:
Hi, I was curious how you kept your frosting from running in the summer? Love the information and case!
Inda Blackwell (author) from Hampton Roads on June 04, 2016:
Hello Linda! Initially, I brought about 72 individual cupcakes. I brought a few more every week depending on how well I did the week before. Good luck! Thanks for stopping by!
Linda on June 03, 2016:
Hi, I was wondering how many cupcakes you baked for one day of selling?
luv2bake on April 22, 2016:
Wow!! Thanks so much for all the great ideas! This was very helpful and Ill recommend to friends! Thanks!
Inda Blackwell (author) from Hampton Roads on April 06, 2016:
Hello Kristin! Thanks for letting me know. I will be sure to link and credit the photo. My apologies!
Katie A on April 06, 2016:
Kristin how did you package those cupcakes? Im having a bake sale to help support my mom with her cancer treatments and im trying to figure out how to package everything individually
KristinNESW on March 24, 2016:
Please credit your sources for the photography. The image of the cupcakes in cups with the polka dot table cloth is from my company The Cupcakerie located in Rhode Island. 6 years ago, it took me a long time how to figure out how to package cupcakes for farmers markets and would appreciate credit. https://www.facebook.com/The-Cupcakerie-8126639070...
Inda Blackwell (author) from Hampton Roads on January 20, 2012:
Sounds interesting thanks for the heads up. Keep up the good work with your hubs!!
TandJ on January 20, 2012:
If you ever get into it further look up Mel bartholomew the inventor of square root gardening. Less space, less seed, less water, and less time than traditional row gardens.
Inda Blackwell (author) from Hampton Roads on January 20, 2012:
Thanks TandJ Good Luck to you on your future endeavors in Horticulture. I too am looking forward to purchasing a home to start growing a massive garden. Thanks for stopping by!!!
TandJ on January 19, 2012:
I plan on growing for the farmers market as soon as I can find a house. I heard the people that make the most money are the baked good stands. So awesome that you're thinking local. Hope to read more!