The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Selling at farmer's markets

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bassopotamus's picture
bassopotamus

Selling at farmer's markets

I apologize in advance if this is the wrong forum, but it didn't seem to fit anywhere else.


 


I have been baking fairly seriously at home for about 6 months, and my wife really wants to start selling at the local farmers markets. I am a little skeptical of the idea but wanted to at least do some background on the matter.


 


The big challenge, as I see it, is that I haven't really baked in quantity before and we don't have commercial grade equipment. Average sized home oven (with quite good temp control at least), kitchen aid pro 600 mixer, which I'm pretty sure is not up to many baking in quantity tasks. That said, I think we can get around the mixing issues by at least starting with no knead (but for a few stretch and fold) recipies which wouldn't overtax the mixer. Since it only involves about 2 minutes of mixing per batch, I kind of figure the two of us could assembly line it. I've got a great sourdough and good baguette/boule recipe. If we were to turn a profit, I'd probably sink money back into either an Electrolux DLX or maybe a used 5qt hobart.  The bigger concern is the oven. It will do about 2 boules per rack, but I have not yet tried baking on both racks at once (I think it would be OK for this) but will need to try it later this week.If we could do 4 boules at a time, I can see baking about 50 loaves in around 6 hours which wouldn't be awful.


 


SO, a series of questions


 


1. WHat is the best way to store loaves, and what is a reasonable hold time. I see baking a bunch friday evening and selling saturday morning.


2. It seems desireable to get flour prices down. I use king arthur at home, which right now is 4 bucks for 5 lbs at the local grocery, or about a buck a loaf. Other material costs are negligable (water is more or less free, I got a ton of yeast at sams, my starter is going like a champ). Unfortunately, our Sam's does not sell any bread flour at all. Not sure if there are other ways to get bread flour in quantity easily.


3. I am figuring, supply wise, I need several more large rising containers, plastic bags, and twist ties for selling the bread, maybe some kind of homemade logo to establish a bit of a "brand". Am I missing anything here


4. Would baking stones be an advantage here? I currently have been baking on an old air bake cookie sheet and getting great results, but I'm wondering if more mass in the oven would be desireable.


5. What kind of quantity would be a sensible amount to sell? I'm thinking 20-30 loaves for starts to see where that goes, but I don't have any idea. We have a series of farmer's markets around here, and they are pretty well attended, but I don't know what the market looks like. I'm also not sure what fees are involved with getting space (I've got calls out). Seems like this and ingredients would be the main costs.


6. What about pricing? As it stands now, a loaf has about a buck of ingredients in it. The packaging (based on sources I've seen) works out to negligable per loaf, other main cost would be the cost of the space and a little bump on the electricity. I'm thinking I would probably need to sell pound loaves at around 4 bucks a pop for this to make any sense, but am not sure what the market would bear. I know a pound loaf of quasi artisan bread at Target and the local grocery goes for about 4 bucks, so that doesn't seem unreasonable. Don't need to get rich, but don't want to work for free either.


7. What else am I missing here?


 


Thanks in advance


justin


 


 


 

Zenbirder's picture
Zenbirder

Hi Justin,


I am starting baking for market this coming week.  I have practiced some, selling to my dance group and getting feedback (I can not seem to bake enough whole wheat cinnamon raisin).  Check your local laws.  Here you must register with the Environment Department and cook in a certified kitchen.  Our market limits the number of bakers, so do check with them.  Our market fees are 4%.


The oven I am using will do 5 full sized bread loaf pans, 6 loaves in the Chicago baguette pans, or 8 mini loaves at one time.  I plan to bake cookie bars, muffins and sweet quick breads on Thursdays.  Thursday evening I will start poolish for some loaves.   Bread will be baked Fridays for Saturday morning market.  I do have a heavy marble slab in the oven for temp maintenance, but if I bake rounds on top of it I can only get two loaves at a time with lovely crusts.


I grind all my own Wheat berries, and buy white flour at Sam's Club.  For kneading, I sought out used bread machines, $2 to $5 each at yard sales and thrift stores.  I have a table with them all on it, one loaf per machine and only use them as a kneading machine and rising place for Market.


I am planning on $5 per loaf for the bread 1 1/2 pound loaves fresh ground whole wheat.  I will need to charge more for raisin bread.  Good breads in the co-op are $6, so I do not think I am out of line.  I am still working out pricing for other baked goods.  Labels I will do on the computer on address labels I can send through the printer (30 per page).  We are allowed to have labels on the table as well for small things so we don't have to label every cookie and muffin.


I have spent a bunch of money so far: bread pans, paper bags for breads (ordered online), huge roll of plastic wrap, 25 pounds or more of raisins and many other ingredients.  So in one week I will have my shakedown sales and see how it goes!  I do not know how many loaves I can bake in a day.  I wish you luck.


Susan

bassopotamus's picture
bassopotamus

From what I can find of state law, bread is a non hazardous baked good (oh how I love that term) and therefore not subject to kitchen inspections or any of that. That bread machine idea is clever, but I don't think I have the room for a herd of them :)

mcs's picture
mcs

Double check with the specific market manager of the farmers market you're interested in selling in.  Montana state law says no certified kitchen is needed for a farmers market baked good, but the local board says otherwise, and they're the ones accepting the applications, so they make the rules.  However, fifteen miles south and north of the town I live, also have farmers markets and neither one requires a commercial kitchen.


-Mark

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Even if your farmers market doesn't require an inspected or licensced kitchen, that doesn't mean you don't need one.


 


Having baked commercially in a number of areas, and talked to professionals around the country, it is important to note that the laws vary from state to state, that farmers markets vary in their level of professionalism and legal expertise, and that you can get into REAL trouble in some states selling breads without a licensed kitchen.


 


In Colorado, you may not cook products for sale in your home kitchen.  And if you sell without a license, the fines are steep and the state can confiscate all your kitchen equipment.


 


In Texas, you may bake bread for a farmers market in your home kitchen, but that is tightly defined as the kitchen in your home.  If you decide to, let's say, put a mobile home in your back yard, but the walls leaving the bathroom and one big room you'll use as one big kitchen, well, that's not really your home kitchen, is it?  You don't sleep in it.  And they frown on using a garage as a kitchen, even if thats all you use it for, even if its attached to your home because you don't live in the garage.


 


And other states have their own little quirks.  The stakes are potentially high and ignorance of the law is no excuse.  The health inspector in a number of states will not be amused by your claiming, "But, Gail at the farmers market said I could do this!"


 


So, PLEASE check with your city, county and state health departments.  It will probably frustrating, but you'll sleep better once the exercise is over.


 


Mike


 

SuzyZ's picture
SuzyZ

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I can not find it anywhere that "In Texas, you may bake bread for a farmers market in your home kitchen, but that is tightly defined as the kitchen in your home." Everything I can find says that you can not sell anything baked in a home, that it must be from a licensed commercial kitchen. I am dying to sell at Farmer's Markets in San Antonio. Thanks for your insight and direction.

Tanya's picture
Tanya

Hopefully someone in Texas can answer your question better, but I would recommend calling the TX dept of agriculture and if they are the regulating authority, ask them that question and preferably get the answer in writing, most likely a referense to a specific ordinance or instruction.  We live in VA and have a commercial kitchen in what used to be a garage.  VA dept of agriculture inspected it and we had no problems.  The requirements are mostly common sense, but the interpretation depends on the inspector.  As any other government parasite, they won't feel satisfied unless they find something to justify their existence.  Your job is to make sure that the something is trivial so that it can be corrected on the spot.  Some things to keep in mind is using the right tables (stainless or hardwood), check the hubs on your mixer to make sure that there's no seeping oil, refrigerators have thermometers, your 3 bay sink has proper cleaning and rinsing chemicals, your packaging is sanitary (gloves).  No pets hanging around the kitchen...  There is a temptation to use your regular home kitchen (or appliances) to augment your commercial process.  That is a no-no.  You have to be able to demonstrate or explain to the inspector that the entire cooking process in done exclusively in the commercial kitchen.  And good luck!

cookingwithdenay's picture
cookingwithdenay

It is a slippery slope to bake from home in a state that does not have a "cottage law." The farmers markets may let you sell, but that does not mean the state allows it so your may want to contact your state Department of Agriculture to see what the law really says, trust they have it in writing.


If your state is a none home-based baking state with no cottage law you might want to investigate and see what would need to be done to create a "Bakers Bill" that will allow home-based bakers to bake from home for profit. I have been teaching home food processing for many years and when I started there were only 9 states with Bills addressing the cottage law which states you can bake low risk foods, primarily baked goods from home, now there are 15 and growing. Don't give up just tell your legislators what you want...they do work for you. you know.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Farmer's markets have managers.  Your first step is to contact the manager of the martket you have chosen and confirm that you don't have to have any certification from your local health department to sell baked goods.  He/she will also advise you of the fees and any other local rules that apply to that particular market.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

While a market manager is aware of the market rules and regulations, that deesn't mean they will be aware of state laws and regulastions.


 


When your state health department knocks down your door, confiscates your kitchen equipment, and levys a large fine, I am inclined to think your market manatger's support will be limited to saying, "gee, tough break dude!"


 


YOU are the one responsible for stayong within the letter of the law.  YOU are the one who needs to check.  Not the market manager.


 


All the market managers I've known have been nice people.  But you have no way of knowing if they know what they are talking about.  Maybe they're riight.  But if they are wrong, they won't be the ones with the empty kitchen and huge fine.


 


Mike


 

hsmum's picture
hsmum

The city nearest you probably has some kind of wholesale grocery outlet.  In Canada such stores will usually sell to anyone, although probably their main market is small businesses and sometimes there is an annual membership fee.  In our local store of this type I just bought 100 loaf-sized plastic bags for about $3.50.  I can get about 500 twist ties for about $1.50.  Both a HUGE savings on anything you'd find in an ordinary grocery-store.  They also sell bread flour at large savings, although perhaps not the quality you're seeking.  Anyway, it's worth checking out if such an outlet exists somewhere near you.


Karen

bassopotamus's picture
bassopotamus

Looks like everything is a go (pending space). It is only 100 bucks for the summer, which really makes things work better for us. That's less than 10 dollars a week of overhead for the spot.The rules are pretty laid back here. So long as you aren't making cream pie, you are good to go.


 


The big downer is that to do this, we are going to need a bigger mixer. First attempt at making a reasonable sized batch of dough was an epic failure in the kitchen aid. Even for a low knead that only needs about 2 minutes of mixing. I've got a thread in the gear forum, but am pondering either a used hobart or a new DLX (leaning DLX at this point)

possum-liz's picture
possum-liz

I can't really comment on regulations--living down under, but I have been  baking for our local monthly farmers market for the past two years.


Yes, start out with 20-30 loaves. I started with 18 sourdough and a couple of turkish and now bake about 80 all up and always sell out. I'm at my limit now. If your bread is good the customers come to you first so they don't miss out.


I start Thursday morning with starters, preping fruit, olives etc. Mix some of the doughs Thursday pm and retard them in the refrigerator or the cooler. Then I mix the rest of the doughs Friday and start baking as soon as the retarded dough is ready. I do the turkish last because it's yeasted and not a good keeper.


I think you've underestimated your baking time. Don't forget turn around time and that your best planned baking time table may go astray. If you make it too tight and don't have controlled proofing conditions you risk overproofing which is worse than having to wait for a slow batch. Days with weather changes here are a nightmare.  I use baking stones to increase thermal mass and can get 6 panned loaves in my oven at a time and it is definitely slower than with fewer loaves.


I make all my bread by hand and think it is no big issue for batches under about 5 kg (12 lbs). I use big plastic tubs to mix in and when I run out for bulk fermentation I use large plastic bags.


Check out your local bakery/grocery wholesaler for bread flour. Here it is in 25 kg bags. I'm out of touch with how wholesaling works in the States or your local bakery might put an extra bag on their order if you're not cutting into their territory too much.


Have fun.


Liz

bassopotamus's picture
bassopotamus

Point taken on the timing. Figure on starting early in the day on fridays so things time out.

Zenbirder's picture
Zenbirder

I was so pleased Saturday at Market, I sold out even though the crowd was very light.  I also found that people are willing to pay way more than I thought for good whole grain breads.


Regular sized muffins $1.50,


mini loaves (banana bread, pumpkin bread etc.) $4,


baguette about 3/4 lb. $3.50,


full size 1 1/2 lb. cinnamon raisin loaf $7.


I took it easy on baking schedules because I am still learning the ropes.  I think I can make many more loaves and muffins with experience.  It certainly is financially worth while, and emotionally worth while when people come back for more and send others over telling them how good the food is!!

bassopotamus's picture
bassopotamus

Congrats!


 


We got our stall, and have been getting our stuff together. Extra pans, Electrolux mixer, a bunch of 8qt cambro buckets, collapsable table, canopy, etc. Our first time will be the second saturday of May. I hope we are as successful as you are! How many loaves did you take?

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I have a Kitchen Aid and a DLX. And I wouldn't use either of them for working at a farmers market.


 


When I was baking for the farmers market, I did 200 loaves by hand a night with no mixer using the stretch and fold technique.  I talk about it a lot on my web page, sourdoughhome.com.  The page where I talk about it is http://www.sourdoughhome.com/stretchandfold.html


 


When I was baking for the farmers market, I'd use bus tubs to mix the dough in.  I could do about 20 to 22 1.5lb loaves in a tub.  I'd dump the dough onto a work surface, stretch and fold, and then put the dough back in the tub.  I'd cover the tubs with wide cling wrap.  You could also use food grade trash bags or oil cloth.  I had three bakery racks, and could put 5 tubs on each rack.


 


The original mix was by hand.


 


It worked a lot better than trying to wear out a home grade mixer, and better than trying to buy a commercial mixer.


 


Hope this helps,


Mike


 

sojourner's picture
sojourner

Mike, you said that you USED to bake for farmers' markets. Did you stop because of pressure of work and time elsewhere or because it wasn't a viable proposition?


I'm amazed at the prices I'm seeing quoted in this thread. Here is the UK, a commercial artisan-style loaf hovers between £1.10 and £1.40 ($1.67 to 2.13) depending on type, while in France a baguette from an artisan baker currently sells for between 75-84 centimes ($1.02-1.14).


Sojourner


 

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

We moved from Colorado to Texas and I haven't found a kitchen I can rent for the purpose.


 


Whether or not Texas allows home baked goods to be sold commercially, my home kitchen isn't up to the task.


If I was still in Colorado, I'd still be baking for the farmers markets.  Despite the peculiar politics that seem to affect small group dynamics.


-Mike


PS - Oops... AFTER I posted this, I saw I'd already answered it.  Sorry.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

A number of people have asked how the stretch and fold thing works on larger quantities.


 


I found my wife had taken some pictures of me doing the stretch and fold for a farmers market, so I put together a page with that information on it.


 


A quick warning - there are LOTS of pictures on that page.  About 44 including the banner and such.  As a result, it takes a long time to load if you hae a slow connection.  It'll get there though.  As with almost all the pictures on my site, if you click a picture, you see a larger version of the picture,


 


With that out of the way, try going to http://www.sourdoughhome.com/stretchandfoldfm.html


 


Hope it helps someone,


Mike

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Thanks, Mike, for putting that page together. I'm not looking to do any farmer's market baking, but the process really came to life in your wife's pictures and your helpful descriptions. (Fortunately my connection must be good, as everything loaded quickly.)


Great job!


David

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

For a number of reasons, we moved.  When we got here, we had two mortgages and one income, so I had to look for a "real" job rather than a kitchen, a farmers market and so on.


 


We're still investigating the markets around here.


 


One thing to be very clear about.  There is a world of difference between baking a loaf or two for family, a dozen for the church social, and 200 a night for the farmers market.  It is very hard work.  (It was especially bad when my work space and the ovens weren't on the same floor.  I stopped counting how many trips up and down the stairs in one bake night at around 50, and the night was still young.  My knees still haven't forgiven me.)


 


It can be very enjoyable, it can be fulfilling, it can even be profitable, but it is hard work.  I feel that with lots of energy, you could make a good living baking for farmers markets.


 


My own view - don't do baguettes.  Bad ones are available in most grocery stores, and as a result people aren't willing to pay a fair price for them.  With one person, time and human energy are limiting factors, so decide what you can get the most out of for your time.  In the end, we sold loaves of bread.  Lots of them.  If we had leftovers, we froze them and turned the leftover loaves into croutons and bread pudding for the next market week.  We also found health food stores that would buy and resell our market leftovers.  Any loaves beyond that went to the local food pantry stamped with a stamp that read, "Not for resale!"


 


Pricing is a topic I haven't touched on.  It depends on what the market will bear.  If you can sell all you can make for $7.00 aloaf, why should you sell them for $5.00.  No one will go hungry because they didn't get a loaf of artisanal bread.  Look at what is being sold in your area, and at your market.  Compare the price, the size and the quality.  It's tempting to charge the same as the guy in the next booth, but farmers markets are about quality, not price.  So, don't be afraid to charge more, if your product is better.


 


If someone says, "The guy on the other side of the market is charging $4.00, why are you charging $6.00?" the answer is simple.  "He knows what his product is worth, I know what my product is worth.  A friend started selling in a market where there was an Amish woman selling bread for about $2.00 a loaf.  My friend was unsure.  How much should she charge?  I suggested charging $5.00 a loaf.  The result?  My friend sold out of breads every week.  The Amish woman stopped selling breads and told my friend, "I really wasn't into bread anyway, I'd just been asked to sell bread.  I'm doing more jams now - they sell better than my bread ever did!"  The market will sort things out.


 


It is harder to raise your prices than to drop them.  So, don't charge less than you want to charge in the long run.  If you want to charge $7.00 a loaf, do so.  You can have some "get aquainted specials for 2 weeks only" to get people in the habit of buying your bread.  But if you start at $5.00, it'll be hard to go to $7.00.  If you have to raise prices, be ready with an explanation.  "My landlord raised the rent."  "Flour prices went up."  "Gas prices went up, and I have to drive forever to get here."  Otherwise, you will face stiff resistance.  You can always play with coupons and specials until you find a good price point and then adjust the price down.


 


Hope that helps,


Mike


PS - Am I the only one who wonders why the editing window is so much smaller than the text that will be displayed?  Why do I always find the typos after I publish the post?  Mike


 

freebread's picture
freebread

My wife and I have just started a bakery and we are currently attending three farmers markerts per week.  I agree with Mike that you need to sell your bread for what it is worth.  We have set our prices for the year at $5 dollars per loaf when I'm now sure we could get $6 or more.  People are willing to pay more for quality.  This is our second season selling at farmers markets and sales for the begining of this season has been good.  Make sure you love it,  Best wishes Thomas.

pipo1000's picture
pipo1000

Mike,


what kind of oven did you use to bake all these 22 loafs in one go of one batch?

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

In any bakery, you need to be aware of your bottlenecks and schedule for them.  For many people the bottleneck is the oven.


I had two ways of baking breads.  One was free form loaves which were allowed to rise on sheet pans, and were then baked on the sheet pans.  The other loaves were pan loaves baked in strapped baking pans.  Strapped pans are pans that are strapped together so you can handle 3, 4, 5 or more pans as a group.  They are an optimum distance from one another, so you can load your oven quickly and get GREAT space utilization.


I never had the ovens I wanted, just the ovens that were available to me.  I rented two different kitchens when I was baking for the farmers market. 


One kitchen had two commercial convection ovens.  I could bake three pans of bread in each oven, with each pan holding 3 loaves.  Or about 18 loaves at time,  With stapped pans, I could put 4 straped pans in each oven, for a total of 32 loaves.


In the second kitchen, I had one commercial convection oven and a commercial kitchen oven.  I could bake three sheet pans in the convection oven and one in the regular oven at a time, or 4 strapped pans in the convection oven and 2 more in the regular oven.  So, I could do about 12 free form loaves at a time or 24 pan loaves.


The ovens I wanted were deck ovens.  If you are baking bread, I feel they are the way to go.  Lots of options there, just avoid the used pizza ovens - their decks aren't tall enough for many breads and they don't bake as evenly as bread ovens.


Part of the equation is how long loaves can be held after they are risen and before they are baked.  This is called tolerance in the trade.  Most wheat breads can be held about an hour without significant degradation.  So, if I didn't have room for the entire batch the leftover loaves would go into the next bake.  Juggling when I started each batch of bread with an eye on bake time was a challenge at first, but after a while it became second nature.


Hope this late answer helps,


Mike


 

pipo1000's picture
pipo1000

Thanks for your answer it was very helpful!


 

cookingwithdenay's picture
cookingwithdenay

Hi Justin,


I will attempt to give a couple home-based baking tips.


 


1. What is the best way to store loaves, and what is a reasonable hold time. I see baking a bunch friday evening and selling saturday morning.
Bake your bread and selll it as close to "baking time" as possible. A number of home-based bakers (HBBs) in North Caroline use the 24-72 hour max. After 72 hours the bread should be used for bread pudding only. Remember your bread has no preservatives.



2. It seems desireable to get flour prices down. I use king arthur at home, which right now is 4 bucks for 5 lbs at the local grocery, or about a buck a loaf. Other material costs are negligable (water is more or less free, I got a ton of yeast at sams, my starter is going like a champ). Unfortunately, our Sam's does not sell any bread flour at all. Not sure if there are other ways to get bread flour in quantity easily.


You may want to approach your favorite family restaurant or diner and see if they are willing to purchase wholesale bread flour for you when they purchase their products from the wholesaler. I got this idea from a HBB who approached an Italian restaurant in her area who makes their own bread, she told the owner what she was doing and since she was not in competition with him, he now orders her flour, yeast etc when he orders his own and she pays in advance. It's a win-win. You never know until you ask.



3. I am figuring, supply wise, I need several more large rising containers, plastic bags, and twist ties for selling the bread, maybe some kind of homemade logo to establish a bit of a "brand". Am I missing anything here


Plastic containers, check your news paper for restaurant supply companies or going out of business sales.
Twist ties
http://www.anchorbag.com/bagtie.htm
http://www.uline.com/Grp_64/Twist-Ties?searchedkeywords=bag%2520twist%2520ties


Labels- (This place is a bit pricy)
http://www.myownlabels.com/ML119.asp?fnColumns=5&AreaID=1



4. Would baking stones be an advantage here? I currently have been baking on an old air bake cookie sheet and getting great results, but I'm wondering if more mass in the oven would be desireable. Don't fix what ain't broken, after you increase revenue invest, see if you can borrow one from another baker and try it before you buy it.


 


5. What kind of quantity would be a sensible amount to sell? I'm thinking 20-30 loaves for starts to see where that goes, but I don't have any idea. We have a series of farmer's markets around here, and they are pretty well attended, but I don't know what the market looks like. I'm also not sure what fees are involved with getting space (I've got calls out). Seems like this and ingredients would be the main costs.You need to do some home work Justin and get this information. You may also want to talk to any other bakers at other markets who sell bread. Something bakers do here in NC is start a baking club or baking coop where customers pay in advance using PayPal or other payment plan and meet you at the Farmer's Market to Pick up their bread. You can take extras because as you form a crowd, consumers are drawn to you location.Just a thought.



6. What about pricing? As it stands now, a loaf has about a buck of ingredients in it. The packaging (based on sources I've seen) works out to negligable per loaf, other main cost would be the cost of the space and a little bump on the electricity. I'm thinking I would probably need to sell pound loaves at around 4 bucks a pop for this to make any sense, but am not sure what the market would bear. I know a pound loaf of quasi artisan bread at Target and the local grocery goes for about 4 bucks, so that doesn't seem unreasonable. Don't need to get rich, but don't want to work for free either.


The questions is what is your bread worth? Do you make "Target" bread? Is it better than "Target" bread? Is it not as good as "Target" bread? Here in NC artisan breads go for $5.75-$12.00. You need to do a bit of market research and see what you market will bare and pay close attentionto who your customers are. Are they the regular Farmer's Market attendees or are you bringing in a new clientel?


 

bassopotamus's picture
bassopotamus

Wow!


 


Didn't realize that people had kept posting on this, and stumbled in...


 


We've been going for about 3 months now, and with some growing pains, things are going pretty well.Answers to a few of my own questions


1. Ours is a smaller market than what some of you have been up to, clearly.


2. We seem to have pricing and production about right. We take 70-80 loaves a week, and usually either sell out or come home with only a couple


3. We are basically at capcity given that we have one oven and one fridge


4. We are turning a pretty decent profit, even if our prices are perhaps lower on some things than they ought to be.


5. The one unanticpated piece of gear that has really helped this along is a 6 tier 4 foot by 1 foot wire rack from Sams.


6. We bake starting at noon friday and sell between 8 and noon saturday. Nothing goes into bags before saturday AM and no problems with freshness.


7. We've built up a loyal following of customers. Earlier in the summer, we had no power for 8 hours on friday and could only take about 1/4 of what we usually do. WE sold out in an hour and people were really bummed.


8. I'm not real keen on the Electrolux across the board. Not only for dealing with quantitiy, but in general. Everytime I voice this concern on other forums, people get mad or act like I don't know what I'm doing, but it just isnt' very good at mixing certain things, though it is good at kneading.


 


 


And a question.


Is there a "brand name" for a general mills unbleached bread flour? I've been using All Trump, but that is bleached. The local food service place cuts a good deal on 50 lb bags of it, but they are pretty useless for ordering stuff from (basically, they only deal with their retail side for smaller customers, and while you can get anything pulled from the warehouse, they have no idea what they have so you have to know what to ask for).


 


Not sure how much longer we'll keep doing this, honestly. It has been kind of fun, but it is alot of work and basically leaves me with no time off (since I have another job...). But thanks to all for the advice. It has been really helpful.

freebread's picture
freebread

The unbleached unbromated flour from GM is called Harvst King.  It product # is 53722.  We get ours from a commercial supplier for about $14.60 per 50# bag.  Hope that helps.  Thomas

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

All-trumps comes in many flavors.  Bleached, unbleached, bromated, unbromated.


Tell your supplier what you want.  The last time I checked the unbromated was available only west of the Mississippo river.  Still, check with a number of distributors.  You should be able to find what you want.


Also, All Trumps is around 14% protein, compared to around 12% for Harvest King.  They really aren't interchangeable.  And, all in all, while I liked all-trumps when I was baking in the mountains, it is a bit too strong for general purpose baking.


-Mike

Zenbirder's picture
Zenbirder

I have been baking and selling now for two plus months.  Our Farmer's Market is small and poorly located.  I am maxing out the buyers with 50 - 60 loaves.  I could make more, but not unless the market moves to a better location.


Mike - I do a great business in baguettes.  My whole philosophy is to not compete with stores, so I make things people can not get anywhere else in town.  To start with the market crowd is more health conscious than most.  I use organic whole wheat and grind it myself.  For baguettes, I use a pre-ferment base and add red onion, sage, thyme and parsley.  I get $3.50 each and I grow all my own herbs.


Loaves include whole wheat cinnamon raisin, seedy bread (millet, sesame and sunflower), and sun dried tomato and black olive, $7 a loaf.  I also sell whole wheat muffins and specialty sweets like old-fashioned gingerbread and Boston Brown Bread.  I have labels for every stack of bread listing ingredients, that also helps.


Yes I am making money, yes it is a whopping amount of work, but it feels like "right livelihood".

cookingwithdenay's picture
cookingwithdenay

Hello Zenbirder


There is an interesting blog about about selling and the farmer's market and strategies for making more sales, limited as to what I can post here, but perhaps if you tweet or on FB I can share some info with you from other bakers across the U.S. who also sell at Farmer's Markets.

cookingwithdenay's picture
cookingwithdenay

Most in NY already know that the state has a food processing regulation that will allow you to sell products at local farmers markets and farm stands in the state of New York. Here is some additional information.


http://cookingwithdenay.com/home-based-bakers/state-cottage-laws/new-york/


I am in the process now of working with the Dept of Ag to gather a complete listing of all states that allow home food processing and sales at local farmers markets, food states and food cooperatives. Will post soon.

Tasty Little Dish's picture
Tasty Little Dish

Hey, cookingwithdenay,


I am VERY interested in reading this blog that you mentioned!  Could you send me the link?  I am a college student taking Hospitality Classes and I would love to start baking at my local Farmer's Market.  Thanks in advance!

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Selling for profit sounds too much like a job.. I'd lose the love.  I admire anyone who keeps it up and I particularly admire Mr. Knead My Own.. love that you do that and love that you wouldn't have it any other way.

Farmpride's picture
Farmpride

i have been at this over 40 years, done retail, wholesale, and now The Dane County Farmers Market in madison wisconsin for the last 20 years... my acvise is to get into a "commercial shop" ASAP..

first in a home situation you will probably be limited by law as to the sales volume, (you would be here), second is space for work and storage. i know it is not cheap to start up, but partner with another to do that, not as business partners but in the kitchen, if your not going to do retail or walk in sales, then getting a place should be cheap as location is not important.

Go to auctions for equipment, resturants and supermarket auctions are good generally a place for a good deal, ovens ..really big ovens can be had for free, but be ready for some work movine them, especially the old ones, i have moved many..:)

i have seen some mention of selling like 20 loaves or 30. the hours required, the clean up, the time at the market, the car or truck, the gas..on and on , well i don't care if you do get 6 dollars, it is but a hobby that will eat up 2 days easy , you would be better off working for someone else at that rate,

also, check around, in many areas like ours group or community kitchens are sprouting up, our town is building one, and to close communities are also..then you could just rent time there.

never listen to those that tell ya what you may or may not to do.. pick up the phone and call youe state health dept first...

al.

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

A lot of good advice in Al's post.


 


My own feeling is if you can't make $1,000 gross, you should stay home and sleep late.  Making 200 or more loaves isn't that much harder or more time consuming than making 20 to 30.  (I recognize that you may have to start small.  Just don't stay small.)


 


Mike

AshleyAlissa's picture
AshleyAlissa

Hi Al,

I am beginning to look into selling my bread at both farmer's market and local retail outlets but have never baked commercially and am starting fromteh very beginning.  Being that I am also in WI, do you have any suggestions on where to get started as far as licensing, etc.  While I'd love to bake at home since I have the ability to bake up to 20 loaves at a time with my current setup, I am being told that I have to rent a commercial kitchen and still get a retaila and food processing license.  

Lorenzo's picture
Lorenzo

2010 was our 1st full year of selling at our local Farmers Market. We had a Thursday and Friday Market which was great in that baking back to back days made simplified production. Our state does have a cottage bakery law and allows home production as along as you label baked goods to conform with the law.


A WFO (wood fired oven) simplified baking in that we could bake 10 loaves at a time, simple to build and easy to operate with free wood from friends and others.


Over the summer we sold 800-900 loaves at 37 market days, plus other sweet goods making for a very good summer market.


In regards to your home oven, if you are serious buy a commercial oven or build a WFO, 2 loaves at time will drive you nuts. Our markets is very small but growing. Check with local health department and state officials in order to cover all your bases.


Good luck


 

Tanya's picture
Tanya

Here are some sources of equipment that you can use:


twist ties:  http://www.twistease.com/


bread bags, high clarity 13x18 solid or perforated for crusty breads:  www.europackinc.com


labels:  www.labels-direct.com


buy a used Eltron Zebra printer, model 2442, 2443 or 2444.  These sell on eBay for $24-$40, use a parallel port and print labels very fast (1/sec) and the labels cost a fraction of a cent.


Our Nu-Vue 6 deck oven with steam injection cost about $8K shipped.  I've also bought a Super Systems 3 deck oven for $1200, but it doesn't have steam and I had to pick it up.  So this gives you an idea for the oven prices.  I also don't quite see anyone baking bread for a profit being able to do it without a commercial 30+ quart mixer, and preferably a couple of them (if your only mixer breaks, you could be down for weeks, not to mention the constant bottlenecks waiting for one mixer).  The used mixers are at least a $1K investment each.  If you have time and are good with heavy machinery or have a friend that is, you can buy a damaged mixer for a $100 or so, and spend a few hundred fixing it.  But you'll have a reliable rebuilt machine.  If you're buying a commercial mixer from an on-line auction, make sure that you know what voltage and phase the mixer needs.  The smaller commercial mixers (20, 30, and sometimes 40 qt) will be 110V, so that's no problem.  Some 30, 40 and larger units may be 220V (actually, 208).  Your household voltage is 240 (235-240),  Most mixers will work reliably on the higher voltage.  The cheaper ones may not.  Make sure that they are single phase.  You cannot get 3 phase power in residential service.


Flour can often be purchased much less expensively from local mills or distributors.  If you buy in small quantities (less than $500 - $1000 at a time), you may need to go to them to pick it up, otherwise delivery is often free.  They will often have better quality flour than Sams and the like (unbleached, unbromated).


From our experience, I don't see how one can make any profit unless you're selling at least a few hundred loaves during the market day.

Lori C Bryant's picture
Lori C Bryant

I wish I had found this site 3 years ago.  I started in a farm market but I already had a bakery in place as we had an outside wedding facility and had to close.  Didn't want the bakery to go to waste so I started selling bread at the market.  Did really well.  People don't have the time to bake anymore or don't know how and they love fresh homemade breads and goodies.  Last year I was asked to run the concessions for the market so I did both.  Cut back on the breads because I was too exhausted and had help in both the certified kitchen and the market kitchen.  It is amazing how you smarten up when you are not making enough to make it worth your while.  This year I will do both again but I learned alot that I will be putting into practice this year.


I so appreciate Mike's posts.  He is spot on!  You HAVE to make sure you are in compliance.  Not just as a bakery but possibly as a certified kitchen which requires the FDA to be involved.  It is not a scarey thing, and actually your inspector can provide invaluable information to grow your business!  Licensing fees are very high here in Oklahoma which is frustrating but a necessary evil I guess.  I am a rule follower so I question both of my inspectors continually. 


I have had customers ask me directly many times where my breads are baked.  In your home?(I always think  they must be thinking of last nights dinner dishes on the cabinet and a cat sitting at the end watching me kneed their bread) Yuck!!! I am so happy to tell them it comes either from my certified kitchen at our farm or straight from the market kitchen (which is spectacular).  It puts them at ease and gives me an advantage.


Just know if you are selling you have to charge enough to make it worth your while.  If you are using locally grown product in your baked goods you will be paying a high price for those items and if your customers are at the market they already know this and it doesn't bother them.  Thats why they shop there, for quailty!  That is the best selling point you can have!!  I buy local peaches for fresh peach pies and muffins.  Same for blueberries.  Local eggs are used in our breakfast items as well as our baked goods etc...  I tell the customers who at the market I have bought from so they now their fresh baked goods are local and if they love it they will visit their booths also.  We work together and in turn they push my items because I use their products.  You can demand higher prices because you have used only the best.  You may also find favor with the other vendors and they will give you a cut rate or sometimes just give you items they have to get rid of or they will ruin.  I love squash season because I am always given extra squash that didn't sell and useit in my breads.  Means my profit margin just got a little higher!


Also realize you are going to work your fannies off!!!  You will be so tired by the end ofmarket on Saturday that you will have to take a nap.  Trust me, all those projects you thought you would get done this summer will go out the wiindow because there just isn't enough of you.  Your time is important so charge like it is.  Our market is every Wednesday and Saturday so when I'm not baking I am either packaging, shopping, gardening(as I grow alot of my own produce), or labeling.  Sunday is my only day and it is filled with church and family.


Love your customers and cater to them.  Something else you need to do.  Get a client list together.  Just because market ends doesn't mean you have to stop.  You may slow down but you have great possiblities to sell beyond summer.  Holidays are great selling times.  Also check to see if your state has a local coop to sell at.  Our state is very big on buying from farmers and producer locally and that really helps to offer other outlets for sells.  Start a website, especially if you think you might grow beyond the market to opening your own place.  As for me, I will just do the market one more year(I've said that every year by the way).  Get business cards so your customers can pass them on to others. 


Mostly have fun when you are selling.  I am blessed to have a wonderful friend who can sell anything.  We have so much fun together and our customers see that.  We make sure they leave with a smile on their faces.  Don't sit back in a chair and expect your bread to sell itself.  Stand up greet people before they make it all the way to your both and smile, smile, smile!  As you sell down keep your booth rearranged and neat. It is fulltime work while your there and you are on the whole time.  Good luck!


Lori


I also needed to add that our inspectors visit the famers market regularly and check all licenses for anyone who is selling baked goods, canned good, and bottled goods.  I keep all mine either posted or in a binder.  Prefer to post them so my customers can see them too.

Dobeda's picture
Dobeda

Our town requires that a permit be issued for any prepared foods, and that they be made in an inspected, commercial kitchen!!!  While that is a drag, it is what it is.  Not every market requires this, so I would strongly urge you to check before investing the time and energy into pursuing this endeavor.

cookingwithdenay's picture
cookingwithdenay

Update on Selling at state sponsored West Virginia Farmers Markets


You can sell baked goods at the state sponsored Farmers Markets in West Virginia. You need to make sure you are abiding by the packaging and labeling state requirements, plus your product must be made in a certified approved inspected kitchen by the health department.


For more information contact WV Dept. of Ag; Marketing and Development Division; 304.558.0185 to ask about product labeling and packaging guideline/requirements.


Plus, as far as, selling at the Farmers Market; bakers may also want to consider the owner of WV Marketplace (All Things WV); the manager is always looking for unique products and may want to purchase your products wholesale.