Fast, high-rotation crops such as turnips are a very attractive option for farmers looking to capitalize on limited space. Depending on the variety, you can grow turnips year round in many climates and get to a marketable size quickly.
That said, getting people to buy enough turnips to make growing them worth your while might take a little strategy. So with that, let’s discuss some of the ways to sell and offer turnips, as well as some ways to present them.
1. Baby Turnips
Restaurants are a market that especially loves small root crops such as baby turnips, beets, radishes and so on. However, the farmers market customer should not be overlooked when thinking about baby turnips, especially those with nice looking greens. This eye-popping crop will certainly bring customers in to the market table, and this is great for the farmer as selling the baby variety reduces a 55-day crop to one that’s ready in 40 days or less. That could spell a lot of turnips in a short season, and a nice boost of income.
Often, especially in the winter, you see turnips loosely piled, but where possible always try to include the greens. This goes for most root crops—nothing quite sells a crop like freshness. However, if the greens look rough but the turnip looks good, either bunch them in some way or sell them loose as described below.
A basket of turnips is not likely to sell as fast as bunched turnips with the greens still on, and probably not for as much money. The only time or times you want to use the loose method is when selling to restaurants who request it, selling storage turnips, or when the previous week’s turnips didn’t sell but the root still looks good. A CSA is also a good place to utilize turnips without their greens.
4. Storage Turnips
Storage turnips, like rutabagas, are a good option for extending your season. They work well on the table or in a CSA basket, though, again, they might not sell as well without their greens. That said, some customers seek them specifically for their complex, sweet flavor.
5. Turnip Greens
If you do grow storage turnips or wind up with an excess of greens to use, there is a small but existent number of people (especially in the South, I can anecdotally attest) who love turnip greens (and if they don’t, they could be turned on to them). These won’t be a big seller, of course, but some customers will be excited to try something new, and others will love having access to a food they might not have eaten since their grandparents’ kitchen. Plus, selling the greens will add a little value to the storage crops if they still look good at harvest—purple tops are the most prized locally.
6. Value Adding
Value adding with turnips is not as easy as it is with some other crops, but a turnip purée, a pickled turnip or just turnips in a salad mix could all be nice options if you have access to a commercial kitchen. Mix them into root vegetable soups as well, or consider adding them as a topping on a frozen pizza. Add them to a medley of root crops (beets, carrots and so on) cooked or even bunched fresh. You have lots of options, and lots of good reasons to grow and sell turnips.