PHOTO: Fairfax County/Flickr
Jesse Frost
May 23, 2019

Nothing flies off your market table quite like fresh-looking greens. Conversely, few things can flatten your farmers market sales like wilted greens.

Be it lettuce, kale, baby greens, spinach or another type of green––no matter what time of year you have them––you can take important steps to ensure your crop looks like the freshest one available. Here are some tips and tricks to make that happen and to make sure your greens look good throughout the selling day.

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1. Start Considering Greens at Harvest

On harvest day, if you start after the sun is up, the wind is blowing and the greens have started to warm up, you could already be setting yourself up to have difficulty keeping the greens looking fresh at market. The most important thing you can do is to cut whatever green you have as early as you can in the morning and then get it chilled down immediately.

2. Wash and Cool Greens Immediately

Chilling down “immediately” can take different forms for different farms. It might mean taking the entire (covered) bin and sticking it in the cooler or dunking the greens immediately into cold water before or as part of the washing process. Make sure the greens are then spun dry somehow to remove as much water as possible. Getting this step out of the way will arrest them in a state of relative freshness.

3. Bring Coolers to the Farmers Market

Packing all of your produce into coolers with ice lets you get it to market looking fresh, but it can also help you keep it fresh all day long. The best way to utilize the coolers: Keep as much produce inside of them as possible until you have to display them on the table. Switch them out if the bags get condensation or the greens wilt at all.

4. Use a Spray Bottle of Water

Using very fresh water and a clean water bottle (emphasis on those words as you do not want to contaminate anything), misting greens lightly will help keep them fresh and vibrant throughout the day.

5. Make Clever Use of Ice Bins

There are ways to cool your bins from below, though this requires some customization on your part. This could mean ice packs with a cloth cover inside baskets or boxes underneath your produce. You might also, with certain crops, use stainless steel tubs with fresh water. This depends on the crop and how you bag or bunch the produce.

6. Keep Greens Out of the Sun and Wind

Whatever you can do to protect your crops from direct sunlight and direct wind increases their longevity tremendously. Keeping crops out of sunlight is incredibly important if you are using plastic bags to house them. The bags can instantly turn into small greenhouses and cook your produce. That said, plastic, for all its downsides, is a big helper when it comes to protecting against wind.

7. Employ Artificial Bulk in Your Display

Piling a table high with produce is a great way to sell more of it, but it can also be a recipe for wilted greens. Finding ways to replicate the bountiful look without the actual bounty is therefore a good idea when it comes to fresh greens. Stacking boxes or baskets below the produce to elevate it helps make a small pile of fresh greens (which is all you want on the table at any one time to keep them looking fresh) look like a big pile.

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