What are your Michi no Eki moneymakers?

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Wolfsong013
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What are your Michi no Eki moneymakers?

Post by Wolfsong013 »

Hello everyone, I hope you're all doing well. I've changed jobs this year to being super part time, and I've had lots of time for growing and extra farmland between my current and new house.

I was wondering what you all make the best returns on at michi no eki? Last year I grew mostly hot peppers, but aside from some restaurants and hot sauce makers, I didn't make much money (I was doing it more for hobby anyway, so it didn't matter much).

Last year I worked in an office with about 100 staff, so I gave most of my haul away every week, but now I have more production and no one to give it to (my new job has 5 office members). I was hoping to sell just enough to buy materials to continue next year, and keep my husband happy that the farm isn't costing us anything extra.

I'm presuming that Japanese vegetables are worth the time and competition for, since they tend to be extremely cheap (at least here in Tochigi).

Currently I'm waiting on my garlic, elephant garlic, purple potatoes, regular wax potatoes. They will be done here in June/July.

Is there anything in particular that sells well at the market? What's your go to vegetable?

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Re: What are your Michi no Eki moneymakers?

Post by Zasso Nouka »

A lot depends on your area and the kind of clientele your local michi no eki attracts. If it's mainly older generation customers then traditional Japanese veg will sell best, if you have a younger crowd then growing more unusual veg will earn a higher return. We've pretty much given up trying to sell run of the mill Japanese veg at michi no eki's as you just can't compete with the Obasan's and Ojisan's that sell stuff for 80円 a pack. They don't mind loosing money on every pack as it's just a hobby for them to keep them busy.

Mixed leaf salad used to be a fantastic earner for us now as we were practically the only people in our area growing it but now there are so many other people as well as big companies in enviromentally controlled greenhouses growing it takes a bit more creativity. Still possible but you have to differentiate your salad to theirs, either with packing or varieties of leaves used or timing when you harvest to maximise individual flavours. Many of the big companies mixes are quite bland to be honest as they harvest way too early IMHO.

Over this winter we've had fantastic success with kabu, find a variety that isn't grown in your area and has good flavour and then go with that. It will be familiar enough to customers that they know what to do with it but different enough that yours will stand out, ours is currently selling for about 3 times the price of other kabu and they sell out most days.

Another daily staple that can do well is nasu, see what varieties others are growing and then try something different. Last year we grew kamo nasu from Kyoto and they were selling like hot cakes. We also grew chibi nasu which folk use for pickling or tempura

Image

And these nasu are a staple for us.

Image

These snack cucumbers have been pretty successful over the last few years

Image

But they are very susceptible to powdery mildew so can't be grown into the summer. They are also parthenocarpic so have to be grown in a poly tunnel so bees can't get to them.

Arugula can do well if you have the right kind of clientele, specially if you harvest it as a cut and come again veg rather than cutting the whole plant as many local farmers do. You can get 3 or 4 harvests from a single seeding that way.

The main thing is don't under sell your stuff, specially at the start before people know who you are or have tried your vegetables. Start with a fair price for your work and stick with that price, it could well take a while for your veggies to take off but stay firm with your pricing. We regularly see new farmers start at the local michi no eki's with a ridiculously low selling price, initially it sells well but after a year or two they give up farming as their initial grant has run out and they suddenly find they aren't able to make a living on the paltry income their low prices were generating.

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Re: What are your Michi no Eki moneymakers?

Post by Del »

Great photos !!

Off topic: how do you get photos on this BB please ?

Del
Wake, Okayama :dance:

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Re: What are your Michi no Eki moneymakers?

Post by Wolfsong013 »

Zasso Nouka wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 1:22 pm
A lot depends on your area and the kind of clientele your local michi no eki attracts. If it's mainly older generation customers then traditional Japanese veg will sell best, if you have a younger crowd then growing more unusual veg will earn a higher return. We've pretty much given up trying to sell run of the mill Japanese veg at michi no eki's as you just can't compete with the Obasan's and Ojisan's that sell stuff for 80円 a pack. They don't mind loosing money on every pack as it's just a hobby for them to keep them busy.

Mixed leaf salad used to be a fantastic earner for us now as we were practically the only people in our area growing it but now there are so many other people as well as big companies in enviromentally controlled greenhouses growing it takes a bit more creativity. Still possible but you have to differentiate your salad to theirs, either with packing or varieties of leaves used or timing when you harvest to maximise individual flavours. Many of the big companies mixes are quite bland to be honest as they harvest way too early IMHO.

Over this winter we've had fantastic success with kabu, find a variety that isn't grown in your area and has good flavour and then go with that. It will be familiar enough to customers that they know what to do with it but different enough that yours will stand out, ours is currently selling for about 3 times the price of other kabu and they sell out most days.

Another daily staple that can do well is nasu, see what varieties others are growing and then try something different. Last year we grew kamo nasu from Kyoto and they were selling like hot cakes. We also grew chibi nasu which folk use for pickling or tempura

Image

And these nasu are a staple for us.

Image

These snack cucumbers have been pretty successful over the last few years

Image

But they are very susceptible to powdery mildew so can't be grown into the summer. They are also parthenocarpic so have to be grown in a poly tunnel so bees can't get to them.

Arugula can do well if you have the right kind of clientele, specially if you harvest it as a cut and come again veg rather than cutting the whole plant as many local farmers do. You can get 3 or 4 harvests from a single seeding that way.

The main thing is don't under sell your stuff, specially at the start before people know who you are or have tried your vegetables. Start with a fair price for your work and stick with that price, it could well take a while for your veggies to take off but stay firm with your pricing. We regularly see new farmers start at the local michi no eki's with a ridiculously low selling price, initially it sells well but after a year or two they give up farming as their initial grant has run out and they suddenly find they aren't able to make a living on the paltry income their low prices were generating.

Thanks for the detailed write up, as usual!

Sadly I'll be moving to a town that I'm not entirely sure of the clientel yet. Surprisingly, its in a bigger city, but is a small market compared to the one our here in the inaka.

Those eggplants look great! I planted a variety of eggplants in feburary in my greenhouse, but it seems like its just too hard to get them to grow well in the mountain cold. Even in the slightly heated house, they barely are a few centimeters high and I have little hope for getting any actual production going from them this year.

I know you reccommended tane.jp before for seeds, but do you happen to know any sellers of interesting plants that sell the actual plant itself? At least out here in tochigi, I haven't found any interesting plants at the home centers, it seems all catered to just the most basic vegetables.

And thanks for the advice about under selling. I had some basic nasu last year, but I didn't bother to sell because I didn't want to waste time packing and driving things over to get 50 yen/3 eggplants. I sold shishito last year and made a good profit on it, just undercutting the supermarket by 30 yen.

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Re: What are your Michi no Eki moneymakers?

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Del wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 3:07 pm
Great photos !!

Off topic: how do you get photos on this BB please ?

Del
Thank you, I'm currently hosting my pictures on ImgBox but you can use any other photo hosting site you like, Imgur also works. Copy the address to your photo and click on the Insert Image icon at the top of the posting box.
Wolfsong013 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 9:47 pm
Thanks for the detailed write up, as usual!

Sadly I'll be moving to a town that I'm not entirely sure of the clientel yet. Surprisingly, its in a bigger city, but is a small market compared to the one our here in the inaka.

Those eggplants look great! I planted a variety of eggplants in feburary in my greenhouse, but it seems like its just too hard to get them to grow well in the mountain cold. Even in the slightly heated house, they barely are a few centimeters high and I have little hope for getting any actual production going from them this year.

I know you reccommended tane.jp before for seeds, but do you happen to know any sellers of interesting plants that sell the actual plant itself? At least out here in tochigi, I haven't found any interesting plants at the home centers, it seems all catered to just the most basic vegetables.

And thanks for the advice about under selling. I had some basic nasu last year, but I didn't bother to sell because I didn't want to waste time packing and driving things over to get 50 yen/3 eggplants. I sold shishito last year and made a good profit on it, just undercutting the supermarket by 30 yen.
No worries,

You might find it easier to sell in a larger city as there could be more people that don't have time to grow their own veg whereas in the inaka every has their own plot out back of the house.

We start all of our things like nasu, paprika, tomatoes, etc off in our house and then move them out to a poly tunnel once they've got a good start. Inside the vinyl house we have a double low tunnel. The inner layer is horticultural fleece with an air gap between it and an outer later of vinyl. That can keep things alive down to about -3C - -5C.

I've never ordered seedlings over the net as postage would probably make them prohibitively expensive. Nikko seeds sometimes do seedlings and I think Takii also do, check your local taneyasan and see what they have.