So, you’re starting a market garden and you want to know what the most profitable crops are to grow. I hear ya, you want to be able to make a living from selling your vegetables, so do we!
For our first year of growing vegetables for our market garden, we are concentrating on high profitable crops, coupled with what vegetables grows well in our grow zone.
We don’t yet have a customer base, so we can’t reach out and learn what our customers want us to grow. Hopefully that will happen in the future!
We’re not going to let a little issue like having no customers stop us from starting a market farm. No siree!
Jon and I are really excited about starting a market garden, so we are hitting the books and learning about profitable crops that grow well in our area.
Our ultimate goal for growing crops in our market garden is to base our vegetable selection on customer preference AND profitability. Because if our customers don’t want the vegetables that we grow, what’s the point in growing them?
For the first year, we are doing some recon work at local farmers markets, farm stands, as well as good old fashioned book learnin’ in order to pick the crops we are going to grow in 2021.
Below is the result of our thorough research, highlighting the top 30 crops to grow in your market garden, especially if you are brand new.
A word of warning before you run out and buy seeds for these profitable crops is to make sure you know your grow zone and what grows well there.
There is no point in buying a bunch of seeds for veg that does not grow well in your area. A little bit of due diligence is required here.
The Most Profitable Crops To Grow In Your Market Garden
This chart is adapted from information found in the market gardener by J.M. Fortier and The Urban Farmer by Curtis Stone. For more great resources, check out these must-have books for new (and seasoned) market farmers.
After a few years of selling produce, you can crunch your own numbers and create a profitability chart so you can clearly see what crops are most profitable to your own farm and customer base.
When Jon and I create our own profitability chart, you better believe we will be sharing it with you!
But for now, let’s just stick with the expert advice.
As well, please keep in mind that many factors go into calculating the profitability of a crop, including total sales, yield per bed, number of growing days in the garden, just to name a few.
Understand that variability will happen, this is simply an example, it’s not an absolute fact. Your results may vary.
Now let’s break this chart down a little to give you a more complete picture.
What Is The Most Profitable Vegetable To Grow?
The highlighted vegetables are the most profitable vegetables to grow and sell.
Those veggies are:
- Greenhouse tomatoes
- Mesclun mix
- Greenhouse cucumbers
- Green onion
- Cherry tomatoes
These are the top 7 crops that a small farm should grow and sell if they can.
What Are The Most Profitable Crops For A Greenhouse?
This one is pretty straight forward, as there are only two.
These are the two most profitable crops grown in a greenhouse, but by no means are you limited to these two crops if you are fortunate enough to have a greenhouse on your farm.
How Can I Make Money With My Vegetable Garden?
Keep in mind, not all vegetables grown are of equal market value, invest your time and energy into producing vegetables that command a higher market price.
How do we determine which crops are the most profitable?
Let’s turn to the expert to answer this question.
J.M. Fortier quantifies the value of production by measuring the total sales of each crop AND space and time it took to grow them.
He looks at space because it is a limited resource that must be used efficiently, and time in order to plan the succession of crops in the same beds.
I am not going to go into a ton of detail on how J.M. calculates his profitability, check out his book here for more insight.
Tips For Adding Value To Your Crops
There are ways to add value to your crops, as J. M. Fortier mentions in his book The Market Gardener.
For example, a 5-pound bag of carrots at the grocery store sells for about $6 or $1.20/lb, while the same bunch of carrots sold for $2.50/lb.
What’s the difference?
The value of carrots doubled simply by leaving the leaves on to indicate freshness.
Some other tips to help you command good prices at the market are:
- Focus on the quality and freshness of your vegetables
- Keep the leaves on root vegetable to indicate freshness
- Avoid storage vegetables, for example, potatoes, parsnips, winter squash, etc., as they take up space in the garden for a long time and cannot be marketed as fresh
- Regularly try different or unusual cultivars to keep customers interested
- Force early season crops to be the first to offer at the market
- Change prices as little as possible
- Wash vegetables and display them neatly
- Guarantee satisfaction with all products – No questions asked
In the beginning, focus on growing quality, top-notch vegetables. That is the most important aspect of market farming.
Once you have quality achieved, then start focussing on other strategies to differentiate yourself from the crowd and increase your profits.
What are the most profitable crops in your market garden? Let us know in the comments below what they are and where you grow them (your location).
Kathy & Jon
Your friendly neighbourhood gardeners