Truth: My consistent best seller has been cherry tomatoes (in mixed color boxes). I can sell as many as I can produce. Other good sellers are sweet corn (bi-color), melons, strawberries and blackberries.
Hot peppers have a limited but dedicated customer base that we need to expand on.
We had one guy with terminal cancer stop by at the farm once per week last year to get fresh picked cherry tomatoes. We had a bad problem with too much rain causing tomatoes to split, so it'd take me or a worker a couple of hours to fill up a quart and a half for him. Dozens upon dozens of tomatoes would get pitched to find a single good ripe one. Sold it for $4, cost $25 or more for us to pick, but worth it.
Sometimes it's not about the money.
Thank you for being so honest!
Oh last year was a real pain in the ass. So many unexpected expenses, crop wipes, supplies not showing up on time, problems finding workers, etc.. etc.
The worst part is fresh pepper sales are such a limited market, *and* you only get a couple months to try to sell them. They don't store very well, so you have to pick and sell almost immediately. We used the plants as incubators to keep pods viable until we had orders, then we picked to order. Unfortunately this meant by the end of the year, I had 3200 plants loaded with pods that just rotted. We did one final destructive (rip plant out) harvest at the very end of the year to salvage the last viable pods, which I used for our seed inventory for next year, and to dehydrate what I could at home.
Pepper products (sauces, etc) that are shelf stable require a certified kitchen and lab work to properly (legally) do, to protect folks from foodborne illnesses, so that's a steep hill to climb for a grower. We're too busy growing to have time to do sauce, if you do it in any scale at all, so that's flat off the menu for us.
Dehydration in small batches doable at home, but you can't let the dried products enter the wholesale food chain because cottage kitchen rules don't allow it. So we are limited to selling dehydrated peppers produced at home (flake, powder, etc) at our own market stands. To sell to wholesale suppliers (for producing pepper products, spices, etc) you've got to do your drying in an inspected, certified "kitchen" - and good luck finding one with huge dryers.
We're going to try to build a processing building which will be local (county) and state inspected for doing large batch pepper drying / flake processing. It's expensive, as far as a construction standpoint. The big dryers I've looked at are power hungry critters. 3 phase motor, etc. But we've got to be able to at least preserve the crop that we don't sell, in a fashion that is suitable for wholesale sales. Getting that built is a priority.
In the same building, looking to do organic wheat processing in to flour via stone mill, etc.
There's just no way I can make it as a farmer just selling produce 2-3 months out of the year. We've got to have sales year round of shelf stable goods.
Anyway, taking a big leap of faith this year that once i build this processing facility we'll be able to handle not only what our farm produces but also maybe others, as well.