I love the farmers’ market in so many ways that at times I wonder about my sanity. They present an opportunity to sell your flowers to a very diverse customer base, especially the markets held in urban settings. During the season it is not uncommon to share stories with other farmers about particular transactions, or should we call them ‘encounters with customers from some unknown land’. I often say to myself that someone could write a book documenting these stories.   Some of my most memorable encounters are those that deal with the ways a person cannot make a flower purchase and their rationalization to me.
One day I had two elderly women looking at some bouquets commenting on how pretty they were when one of the women looked at me and said, “ Oh, how I wish I could buy a bouquet, but I live in a condominium.”  I was very confused and asked her what she meant – “They don’t allow flowers in the condo association?” I was thinking perhaps fragrant flowers could be a problem. She very confidently said that cut flowers don’t last as long in a condominium. I was even more puzzled, but at that point I humbled myself and remembered the customer is always right.
Another story which happens all too often is a person (often a man), wanders into the booth and asks, “What do I do with these?” This is while pointing to a bunch of cut stems. Depending on my mood I can answer that question in many ways. My response usually is that they are cut flowers that people give to someone as a gift or some people even bring them to work to decorate the office. The next question is, “ Do they have to stay in water?” I patiently explain the proper care of cut flowers. Usually at that point they wander off giving me odd looks.
I am always perplexed by this question. The general lack of appreciation of cut flowers is very evident in many markets. I guess that as farmers’ market vendors we must do a lot of educating and have a tremendous amount of patience. If you lack these skills I would recommend having an employee who has them or seeking alternative marketing opportunities.
I start up my greenhouses today and start planting oriental lilies in crates. My winter break is over and it’s time to concentrate on the upcoming spring. I would like to write the next issue on the success I have had using beneficial insects in my greenhouses. It has been two years since I have sprayed an insecticide.  I look forward to sharing my experiences. If you have any input or experiences please contact me.