Take steps to join Victoria County Farmers Market
March 8, 2014 at 12:03 a.m.
Updated March 8, 2014 at 9:09 p.m.
Share nature's bounty at the Victoria County Farmers Market.
Each Wednesday and Saturday, the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center parking lot is occupied by more than automobiles.
Farmers and vendors sell produce, homemade jams, processed herbs and breads at the market, but what they sell is very dependent on the seasons, Veronica Riehs, president of the Victoria County Farmers Market Association, said.
Now is a good time to start preparing those spring gardens while last season's crops are finishing up, she said.
"We're transitioning from the fall and winter crops - broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage - to the spring," Riehs, 54, said.
Once those spring plants are ready to be harvested, the farmers market is the place to sell them.
Victoria County Master Gardener Roy Cook, who is also the vice president of the association, grows and sells a lot of his produce at the farmers market.
He grows vegetables year-round and said he has a lot of requests for certain beans and vegetables from his customers.
"At one time, I was growing buttercup squash, and no one knew what it was," Cook said. "I offered a free recipe with each sale, and they came back the next week looking for it."
While the spring plants are growing, it's a good time to get things in order before setting up shop.
Here are a few things Riehs and Cook think you should know to be a part of the farmers market:
Join the market
The growers have to be able to grow 75 percent of what is sold. There's an application to fill out and a few fees to pay: $20 a year and $15 per setup during the week.
Learn the rules
Study the regulations given to you by the association. The regulations are set as a guideline for all the vendors to follow - like no laying out produce on the ground.
To sell at the market as a plant vendor, you must have a nursery certification. A county extension agent will come out to your home to make certain that there are no diseases or pests in the plants that will be sold.
Become a food handler
Under the Cottage Food Act, food vendors can sell baked goods, jams and jellies, candy, pickles, processed herbs and roasted coffee as long as they have an accredited food handler's certificate.
Eggs can also be sold at the farmers market. For those who raise chickens, the county requires the vendor to be a permit holder and obey the rules for selling the eggs.
The association recognizes growers who grow locally with plaques that certify to the buyers that all the produce sold is grown locally.
It's optional bragging rights, Cook added. Riehs and Jerry Martin, another member of the association, can come out to see anyone's garden, if you want to flaunt it.
Get a Tax ID
To collect sales tax on plants or homemade soaps, which can be sold at the farmers market, too, register for a Tax ID.
Cook also keeps tabs on his sales over the year to claim when he files his taxes the following year.
"I've got regular customers who are there every Saturday," he said.