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Selling your Homegrown Produce

Many who have bought a Bulgarian property and are now developing it as a small farm look for ways to supplement their income through selling their homegrown produce. How you set about this depends to a great extent on what you will be selling and where you are in Bulgaria. The Bulgarians have long favoured homegrown fruit and veg and foreign visitors show a distinct consumer trend towards organic produce.

Before you even start to sell your produce, your first step should be to contact your municipal council to check out any permits you will need and what codes you may need to adhere to.

At your gate

This is probably the simplest way to sell your goods. If you have good passing traffic you can set up shop at the end of your drive.

There are some considerations to be made:
- do you have a safe place for cars to pull in
- place signs 1 or 2km. further back down the road
- how are you going to protect yourself and the produce (an umbrella over a table, or something more permanent)
- what days and hours will you be there (you need to be consistent, so that visitors know you will be open)

What you sell will determine how frequently customers will come to you and how much money you are likely to make.

If you only have fruit and veg, think about making the fruit into homemade jam to expand the variety of produce you have available. During the summer months when there is likely to be more passing trade you may expand into sandwiches and soft drinks.

Remember to keep your prices in line with the locals. Check around for what others are charging. It is also worth noting what produce others are selling and seeing if you can spot a niche in the market which they are not covering but you can.

At market

This will depend upon where you live as many markets are only open once or twice a week. If you are near a large town where the market is open every day, it may be worth travelling the required distance as there will certainly be more people coming through and you'll have a better chance to sell more of your produce.

However, there will invariably be a fee to pay to the market to have a stall space and the cost of travel will add up.

If you are thinking about selling at market, then visit the market on different days before you decide. Take a good look at the competition and what they are selling; how many people are coming in and how much they are buying.

If they are all selling the same produce, can you sell something different?


Business to business

More and more farms are selling their produce direct to restaurants and hotels. Numerous restaurants like to support their local farmers and want to use only fresh produce. To sell successfully to restaurants your produce needs to be of the highest quality. They also often look for the more unusual fruit and veg, which can command a premium.

If you would like to sell business to business, then you need to visit the restaurant and talk face to face with the manager or the chef. The best time to do this is early in the morning. Avoid times which are busy for them - lunch or dinner times. Take some of your produce with you so that they can taste.

Your prices will have to be lower than if you are selling direct to the consumer. Be prepared that you are probably going to have to deliver larger quantities, meet deadlines and match high quality expectations. You will need to be very clear with the restaurant and ensure that they know exactly what and how much you can supply.

Pick your own

This can be a great way to sell the produce from your farm. It is not common in Bulgaria right now but could be an excellent way to promote a family day out. Selling your produce in this way can be a bit of a reality check as there is no way you can stop kids running around or people treading on your plants when picking. The other side is that you could expand upon this with tours around the farm, afternoon teas, lunches and even bed and breakfast.

If you want to sell your homegrown produce, keep thinking of new ways to improve the quality and variety of what you are producing. These are the two things which will keep visitors coming - and coming back time and time again. Over time you may be able to grow the business sufficiently for it to become your major source of income.