Our culture discourages honest employment for kids.
We shake our heads and tsk over their misunderstandings about money, their inability to communicate with adults, and their overall immaturity. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could even these things out with a job?
But Grandpa’s paper route isn’t an option anymore, as many places now require a driver’s license. They cannot sell things door-to-door because of safety and local regulations. Options are limited for the under sixteen set.
Enter the Solution: Farmer’s Market Booths for Kids!
I introduced this idea in Part 1: Homegrown Economy, where we met a few kids who have found their niche at the Farmer’s Market.
Raven gave me the coolest Tree of Life hemp tattoo on my leg (never had one before!), and she talked about having a creative outlet for her art.
We met Morgan, who funds everything from vacations to a car with her earnings. Even my friend’s twelve-year old pulled out some serious cash to go along with her burgeoning social skills—all from the Farmer’s Market.
Is it work? Sure, but it’s an invaluable education that pays you.
These expert vendors (all 12-19 years old) had some words of wisdom to help you decide if this is the direction you want to head.
Farmer’s Market Booth for Kids: Considerations
It turns out that not all farmers’ markets are kid-friendly! Markets have varying ages they permit in registering for a booth.
Mt. Pleasant’s market in South Carolina has an age requirement of fourteen years old and they won’t permit an adult if they have children younger than six-years-old with them! Although I’m sure they have their reasons, I was appalled at this family-discriminating policy. I remember my own farmer’s market experiences with babies napping under the table.
TIP: Call your closest market first, but call others until you find the one who accommodates children!
I recently visited the Kootenai County Farmer’s Market in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho. They not only allow children to have booths, but they also encourage it by giving children under twelve years old half price on the booth! Kids still have to do a lottery for the space just like the adults do, and their items have to follow all of the same rules (handmade or grown, and must be peer-reviewed). I put this in the plus column because it’s good lesson that the world has standards and we must live up to them.
Looked Down Upon Because of Age
Raven said that people were hesitant to trust her abilities initially, and that she didn’t have the credibility due her because of age. “I have regular clients now,” she says, “and even have appointments beyond the farmer’s market.” Her work speaks for itself, but it was something to overcome.
Morgan said this: “They sometimes treat me like I am less educated about a product because of my age. At the same time, I have had those who are impressed by my knowledge at my age.”
TIP: Stand strong, know your products well, and remember that other customers will come to trust and respect you.
Raven said, “The first year, I struggled to make a profit,” and she cites both the credibility issue and organization as two reasons why. And yet, she puts this in the plus column because of what she learned from the experience of struggling!
Even Morgan, when discussing the financial risk, gives it a positive spin: “There are days where you don’t make any sales, there is loss due to heat or handling. But we try to minimize our financial investment so it normally evens out.”
Whether for safety or companionship, I don’t know, but Raven had a few friends sitting at her booth when I came. Things are just more fun with friends anyway, right?
Morgan mentions this consideration by name, saying, “Sometimes you can make a lot of money at the market so you always need to be careful and avoid situations that would make you a victim, always work with someone.”
Likewise, Morgan’s mom (Amber from The Coastal Homestead) told me that there was one shady character showing a bit too much interest in her daughter.
TIP: A parent needs to be close-by.
Once you have found an accommodating market, begin to develop and learn your products. Don’t forget to take financial and safety considerations into your planning strategy, too! It’s never too early to begin planning for a farmer’s market booth with your kids.