In Feb 2014 Brett and Nici Cooper along with farming neighbours Ken and Carol Maddocks set up Two Men and a Pumpkin farmgate roadside stall along the Bucketts Way, six kilometres north of Stroud, NSW, seventy km north of Newcastle.
Why did you decide to set up the roadside stall?
Our location offered an opportunity to bring our permaculture strategies full circle, providing a financial return that then would support the costs associated with regular farm inputs.
The farmgate stall benefits our local community and travellers from afar as an outlet for chemical free, farm fresh produce at market prices direct from the farms that grow it. Our customers can see our Perma-Market Gardens from the stall and upon request can visit the garden and even taste test some of the produce.
From our Facebook page, we also offer tips on ‘how to cook it’, ‘health benefits’ and Nici regularly shares her delicious & nutritious ‘Perma-Garden to Plate’ recipes.
How did you team up with your farmgate stall partners?
We met Ken and Carol soon after we moved up to the Stroud Valley through the very active Stroud Garden Club. In early 2013, Ken, I and a few like-minded people set up a monthly community growers’ market.
At the beginning of 2014 we stepped aside to work on our farmgate stall plans. The two farms working together allows for greater variety & resilience to provide an abundance of produce each week.
Why you chose to do this over a market stall?
At our monthly market stall we received constant feedback from our patrons that they would like a regular weekly outlet for fresh produce. We also felt it would bring us closer to deriving an income direct from our farm.
Tell me about bringing Bernie back to life?
The idea for the caravan as a stall came from Ken who had recently purchased the handsome but ‘very much in need of a makeover’ 1962 Sunliner fibreglass caravan (originally built in our shire), from a retired Stroud farmer, Bernie Butler. After realising its potential as an eye-catching stall, we fired into action and within a short time ‘Bernie’ the caravan was reborn to house our ‘Two Men and a Pumpkin Farmgate Roadside Stall’.
Does it support you/ is it profitable?
The roadside stall definitely covers our farm input costs and we are confident that over time, combined with our other farm-based projects and permaculture outputs, workshops, field days, consultations and design work we will eventually reach a stage where it will support our family. Currently my wife and I still both work full time; this is allowing for a safer transitional phase financially, farming wise and permaculture strategy wise.
Like any venture, starting a farmgate stall takes a small leap of faith, plenty of good advice, research, planning and personal commitment, it’s a leap that we have found very rewarding!
My advice, use your available ‘nonfamily’ time to research and plan to help bridge the gap between your current life and your goals.
“You must make your dream a priority in order for it to become your life”. – Bob Proctor.
Brett & Nici Cooper
Limestone Permaculture Farm and
Two Men and a Pumpkin Farmgate Roadside Stall
Look for them on Facebook.
The process for setting up a farmgate roadside stall involves:
- Researching the viability of the stall in your chosen location, do a little local networking and gain feedback on the idea from locals.
- Depending on your council you may need to submit a Development Application as I did. This requires detailed planning including site plan, elevation plan, traffic management plan, signage plan and the submission of a DA form. Your council DA officer can walk you through this. Be prepared to set aside some extra funds to cover DA costs.
- Plan your stall set up with as much detail as possible. Being organised and structured creates expediency in the DA process.
- There are government regulations around size of stall, location etc. as well as Road & Traffic Authority rules around entry and exit of vehicles from your property, so research and build this into your plan.
- Plan how to operate you stall – in our case it opens only once a week every Saturday between 9 am to 1 pm, which allows us time to set up and a little-last minute harvesting on the morning with the condensed four hour opening time not taking up our whole Saturday.
- Build your stall display. You will get a better response from customers if you put a little effort into how your product presents.
- Lastly advertise and promote! Utilise Facebook, websites, community boards & street signage. Share your journey & farming experiences.
Connect with your customers and community!