Friday, February 6, 2015

Do You Sell...?

Do you sell...? It's a question I've been asked quite a bit in the past few months or so. I've been asked about fresh herbs, pickled goods, infused oils, flavored vinegar... The answer is - NOT YET. We'd really like to get into market selling, and we have talked with the managers of our local markets about the process for future reference.

Thus far, we've only been selling a few dozen excess eggs here and there to friends and coworkers. There is a lot more to LEGALLY selling many prepared food stuffs than one would think, even though Michigan does have a Cottage Industry Law that allows a homemaker to sell specific goods up to $20,000 in profit per year without being inspected/licensed.

Thankfully, we can legally sell fresh and dried herbs, and fresh and dehydrated fruit and vegetables if we choose. Baked goods like breads and cookies are also permissible. However, sadly, I would need to rent a licensed kitchen (which is fairly expensive) to legally sell any type of meat jerky like our "Black Pepper and Garlic Venison Jerky"and "Salt and Pepper Stew Chunks" for camp meals, or pickled items like "Dad's Dilly Beans" and "Carrie's Stinky Cauliflower". What's interesting is, though, that flavored vinegar and home canned jams and jellies ARE something I can sell without renting a kitchen. By now you're probably as confused as I am, right?

Disregarding the legal aspects, there is the issue of  expanding our garden, both size wise and plant variety wise. In the past 2 seasons, we have not produced enough herbs, vegetables or fruit to put away for ourselves AND sell at the market. We're hoping we will be able to get a hold of a disc for our ATV relatively soon, which will enable us to turn over the entire 1/4-ish acre fenced former horse pasture into garden. Our little Mantis tiller just doesn't cut it for large vegetable gardens!

Besides food goods, people that know me personally also know that I enjoy sewing, crafting, and painting. I've been brainstorming for quite some time concerning add-on items that could be sold as well as the food items. We plan on growing birdhouse gourds for hand painted birdhouses, and I would like to sew things like themed kitchen sets (apron, potholders, oven mitt) and cloth shopping bags. Herbal soaps and candles have also been a topic of discussion, although it'd be a lot more expensive to produce these items without our own bees for beeswax and milking goats for larger scale production. I've been kicking around ideas since before we bought this place...

Admittedly, it's a little scary to take that next step into actually becoming a full-time seller. It will be a big commitment, and I will be soley responsible for the success or failure of the venture. That's quite a responsibility, especially since so much time and money will be invested into it. I don't expect to be ready for the 2015 season, but 2016 is a real possibility if I can get the ducks in a row with the garden plot this summer. I guess we shall see!

Do you sell homemade goods at a market or online? What do you sell? Do you have any advice for me and others? Please comment below!