Farmers' Market Decision Making Tool

Note:The "Projected Income" and "Projected Expenses" you will come up with when filling our this "Decision Making Tool" are not a guarantee of what your income and expenses will be, but rather projections based on experiences supplied by 4 farms that presently attend a Farmers' Market.

This calculator will not get into the cost of production for any crops or products. It just deals with the "Income" and "Expenses" involved in marketing the products at a farmers' market. To do a meaningful budget, you need to estimate 2 things: income and expenses. I appreciate that budgets are a bit of a guessing game, but you have to start somewhere. So I'd like you to start by estimating what you think your sales at the market might be. You can jump right to the expense part, but it's only when you estimate your income, that you complete the picture so you can see if you can realistically make money at an enterprise.

Projected Income:

  • Highlight in blue the name of the farmers' market you plan to attend:
  • Number of weeks you plan to sell at the market:
  • If this farmers' market is open more than one day per week how many days / week do you plan to attend:
  • Number of products you plan to sell:

    When you click "submit query" on the bottom of this page, a table will appear with a row for each product you indicated above.

    Please fill in each row to help project your income.


Sales can range from $200 - $4000/week depending on (1) product line, (2) number of customers and (3) years you have been a vendor). A good target for the 1st year would be to average $500/week.

If you maintain quality and develop a loyal customer base, you could budget to increase sales by:

  • 30% in year 2 (30% of $500 = $150. So year 2 sales may average $500 + $150 = $650/week)
  • 20% in year 3 (20% of $650 = $130. So year 3 sales may average $650 + $130 = $780/week)
  • 15% in year 4 (15% of $780 = $117. So year 4 sales may average $780 + $117 = $897/week

If you want to speed up the growth of your farmers' market business remember:

  • The easiest way to increase gross sales is to increase your average sale per customer.
  • The easiest way to increase your average sale per customer is by expanding your product line.
  • The best way to expand your product line is by adding more unique products.

Projected Expenses:

Market Setup
  • Number of stalls you plan to rent
  • Number of 6' display display tables needed (number - the calculator will budget $100 per 6' table)
  • In outdoor markets you would benefit from a canopy.
  • I don't need a canopy
  • Cheap tarp $100/10 feet of width. How Many 10' widths do you need? (Number of 10' widths)
  • Professional canopy $1000/10' x 10'. How many 10' x 10' canopies do you need? (number)
  • Containers (consumer bags, baskets, etc.). Yes (budget 2% of gross sales).
  • Pricing signs. Yes
    (calculator will budget $60.00 for laminated Bristol board pricing signs that have Velcro attached to their backside. The Velcro has a sticky back to it. The sign will then stick to Velcro that is also fastened to the display tables.)
    You can also make more attractive signs out of wood, which will give your booth a better image.
  • Attractive sign displaying farm name. Yes (calculator will budget $500.00)
  • Matching t-shirts for all staff selling at the market. (number of t-shirts needed – calculator will budget $15.00/t-shirt)
  1. I have truck to take products to the market. Yes
  2. I need to buy a used pick-up truck. Yes (the calculator will budget $12000.00)
  3. I plan to buy a cube van with a 16' box. Yes (the calculator will budget $40000.00)
  4. I plan to rent a cube van with a 16' box. Yes (the calculator will budget $250.00/week, based on the number of weeks you indicated you would be going to market).
  • Round-trip distance from Farm to market and return km.
    If you checked off your own pick-up above, we will budget $0.50 /km to cover gas, repairs, and depreciation
    If you checked off you own cube van, typical costs are about $0.70 /km for gas, repairs and depreciation.
    If you checked off van rental, we will budget only for fuel costs at $0.25 /km.
Cold Storage:
  1. I have a cold storage on the farm. Yes
  2. I want a 10' x 10' cold storage built. Yes
    (calculator will budget $50/sq. ft. for building = $5000 + $3000 for 1 hp of refrigeration = $8000)
  3. I want to build a 15' x 15' cold storage. Yes
    ($45/sq. ft. for building = $10,000 + $3500 for 2 hp of refrigeration = $13,500)
  4. I will buy a used refrigerated truck box, install a 2hp electrical refrigeration unit. Yes
    (The calculator will budget $2000 for a used truck box + $3500 for the refrigeration = $5,500).
  • I need to pay utility cost for the cold storage. Yes (calculator will budget $35.00/month for a 1 hp and $79.00/month for a 2 hp refrigeration unit).
Packing Area:
  1. I need to setup a packing area in my barn. Yes
    (calculator will budget $1500.00 for packing tables, lights, and wooden storage shelves in packing area).
  2. I would like to pack my products on rolling carts that can be rolled into the cold storage and then roll out into the truck to go to market. I require (number) of carts.
    (The calculator will budget $ 350.00 per cart) The carts are 31"W x 44"L x 83"H. There are lots of different sizes around this price.
  3. I wish to get a case of Titan hand wrap Yes
    The budget will include $60.00 for a case of Titan hand wrap (contains 4 rolls, of 16.5 mm wrap, each 1500' long)
  • I will become a member of the Alberta Farmers Market Association. Yes (individuals = $50.00)
  • I will get liability insurance for selling at a farmers' market. Yes
    (The calculator will budget $300.00 / yr. for basic coverage. Check with your insurance agent to confirm their price.)

A typical market might be 5 hrs. But you also need to load up for market, drive to market, unload and setup your stall, then tear it down, return home, unload the truck back into storage. That all takes time. This may not be a critical factor if your family is providing all the labour and they do not get an hourly wage, but some farms that attend farmers' markets hire labour and then it is important to budget for that cost.

A good "thumb rule" if you were to hire someone to do everything involved in going to a farmers' market (packing the truck, driving to market, setting up the displays, doing the selling at the market, tearing down, then driving home and unpacking the truck); labour would be around 10 - 15% of gross sales.

If you only utilize unpaid family labour at the farmers' market, you don't need to fill in the remaining questions:

  • What is a typical hourly wage for unskilled labour in your area? $ /hr.
    (We will add 5.5% onto the hourly rate you give, to cover government mandated programs such as Employment Insurance, Workers Compensation, etc.)
    How many employees do you need to hire?
    You should have 2 staff at a farmers' market (restock displays, go for change if you run out, go to the washroom, talk to customers etc.) 2 employees can handle 2 stalls unless you become very busy.

The calculator will work out what your labour cost is based on:

  • taking 1 hour to load the truck at the farm
  • the round trip distance to market you indicated above, (assuming 75 km/hr.)
  • 1 hour to set up 1 stall, and 1.5 hrs to set up 2 stalls
  • 5 hrs. selling at the market
  • 0.5 hrs to tear down 1 stall and 1 hr. to tear down 2 stalls
  • 1 hr. to unload truck back at the farm
  • the hourly rate you inserted above
  • This subtotal will be ("x" ) multiplied by:
    • the local hourly rate you indicated above (including the 5.5%) "x" (times)
    • the number of time you indicated you would go to market "x" (times)
    • the number of employees you indicated you would hire.