Is any one else surprised that Rhubarb is 4.00 a pound at the farmers market?

That's more than tomatoes that are more labor intensive!! I found it several places at that price but finally found it for $3!

  • Posted by: LauriL
  • June 1, 2013
  • 7056 views
  • 26 Comments

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cookbookchick
cookbookchick June 1, 2013

Where are you?

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LauriL
LauriL June 1, 2013

Northeastern CT!! Grows like weeds here!

Trena Heinrich
Trena Heinrich June 1, 2013

That does seem expensive. I'd suggest you talk with the farmer about it and see what he/she says. There may be a reasonable explanation as to the high price point.

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LauriL
LauriL June 1, 2013

Well, I did ask her and she said they had to fertilize it. Last time I looked manure was pretty cheap....as in free!! I have lots of friends that have patches (don't live close enough to share)that say they don't do a thing to it and they've had there's for 15 years!! I know the farmers need to put food on their own tables but I would feel better paying 2.00/lb. After all the stalks are all water!!!

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cookbookchick
cookbookchick June 1, 2013

It may be a case of "whatever the market will bear," especially if you live in a more affluent part of CT. I find here in Annapolis, MD, prices at our local farmers' market seem awfully high, but there are a lot of folks around here with deeper pockets. If the farmers can get what they're asking, well..

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Trena Heinrich
Trena Heinrich June 1, 2013

I hear your frustration. Here's a link to a seed company that specializes in heirloom varieties. This will allow you to save the seeds year after year. This way you won't have to pay $4 a bunch. Lots of luck! http://www.rareseeds.com/store/vegetables/rhubarb/

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LauriL
LauriL June 1, 2013

Thanks Trena! It's a perenniel so after it gets big enough I won't have to worry about replanting!! And I've always wanted my one patch...especially now that I want to try the rhubarb buckle with the ginger crumbles on this site!!~

paseo
paseo June 1, 2013

What about their labor. Isn't it worth something? They are growing it and getting it to a place that's convenient for you. Perhaps you should find a place for it in your garden. I don't think farmers should do what they do simply for the love of it and their satisfaction.

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mensaque
mensaque June 1, 2013

We've had the same problem im Brazil last month with tomatoes.They were the equivalent to 5,00 dollars a kilogram,an increase of 130% in the last year.

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LauriL
LauriL June 2, 2013

Woah! That is a bit steep for tomatoes but here we pay 3.00 dollars for 2.2 kilograms. Can they substantiate a 130% increase? Do they top dress the plants with gold dust? LOL

SKK
SKK June 1, 2013

Rhubarb is easy to grow and takes space. Plant it, and don't harvest until the second year. There really isn't much labor. Grow it yourself.

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LauriL
LauriL June 2, 2013

In addition to the all the lessons on economics that I got with my initial question.....I like your answer the best! Also, Trena gave me a good seed source!

Winifred Ryan
Winifred Ryan June 1, 2013

More likely your farmer's market folks with the high price are reading websites like this and seeing that rhubarb is "cool." So based on the cool factor upped the price. Since you're in CT where rhubarb grows, plant some (or several varieties) and enjoy it as it really is a low maintenance plant. I will sit here in coastal Virginia and stew (take that as a pun if you like) in envy as it doesn't grow well here - I've tried, and I think the winters are too warm. Enjoy!

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ChefJune
ChefJune June 2, 2013

Did you ask the farmer how much they have to pay to bring their produce to that market? Here in New York it is a lot! Plus their transportation costs. That adds to the price of anything they sell. However the quality and the extended shelf life of those products may be worth it to you...

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LauriL
LauriL June 2, 2013

The farm is 5 miles from the market. I thought that part of buying local was to help the farmer NOT to have to go long distances to save on transportation costs!

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Maedl
Maedl June 2, 2013

Farmers have to pay for their land and invest in its health. They have to pay for harvesting, transporting the goods to the market, and for the spot they occupy in the market. If the produce is organic, that means a lot of extra paperwork and record keeping. They also put time in going to and from the market and running their stand. and crops don't always succeed--they are lost to drought, floods, or insect infestation, so a farmer needs some emergency funds. Perhaps they have children that will need an education and health insurance. And if the farmer doesn't want to work his fields until he drops from old age, he has to put money aside for the future. You are paying the costs for non-industrial food up front and you have the opportunity to know where your food comes from. It isn't like farm factory food, where there are hidden costs that will reappear later on to take a big bit out of you.

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Hilarybee
Hilarybee June 2, 2013

yikes! It is definitely a lot of work to farm-work to transport to the market, work to set up the tent, break it down etc. At my market, I paid $3 for a large bunch of rhubarb this morning. I weighed it--it was about 2 1/2 pounds. Ohio is cheap, though-- and I find my food costs are substantially less than my friends in the west and northeast.

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arcane54
arcane54 June 2, 2013

Rhubarb is very east to divide, so next time you're visiting your friends who have rhubarb patches, ask them if they plan to divide their clumps (good to do periodically to maintain vigor/productivity). It's best in the early spring (at least here in OR) and takes a sharp knife or spade. Pretty soon, you'll be dividing clumps for your friends (or planting even more...). P.S. $4 seems about a $1 more than our stores are charging (more if it's organic). However, in my experience there are very few pests and compost/manure is the best fertilizer.

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smslaw
smslaw June 2, 2013

Remember that the part you buy is just the edible stalk. That's small part of the plant. The farmer has to cut it, wash it transport it and compost whatever isn't salable. A pound of rhubarb is a pretty big bunch.
I suggest you but a plant or two. It is easy to grow, pest free and at least here in Maine, requires almost no attention, no fertilizer, rarely needs supplemental water.

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TobiT
TobiT June 2, 2013

The other thing is that some of the farmer's other crops may not be doing so well this year and he/she hasn't been able to bring a lot if the usual product to market. The land, planting, feeding, harvesting, transport and life in general still costs as much as it always does (or more), so if the rhubarb is good and people are buying, that additional dollar a pound could really make a difference.

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ATG117
ATG117 June 2, 2013

I do still think this comes back to market demand. If they weren't selling enough at that price, they'd lower it. When I go to the farmers market each week, I first scout out all the booths and then circle back. I usually find price discrepancies for equally good produce. Perhaps someone else says it for less?

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susan g
susan g June 7, 2013

Here's another factor: commercial farming, especially on the 'agribusiness' scale, is government subsidized, plus they benefit from economy of scale and low wage labor. Rhubarb may not be the best example to justify pricing, but their real costs are reflected in the prices they charge. The rhubarb sold at a higher price may allow them to charge a little less for the labor/material intensive crops.

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susan g
susan g June 7, 2013

That is, real costs to small scale farms.

mainecook61
mainecook61 June 10, 2013

$4.00 a pound does not seem unreasonable to me. Someone had to 1)plant it 2) weed it 3)fertilize it 4) cut it 5)remove the inedible leaves and 6) transport it to market. Sure, it's mostly water, but that's true of most plants. And if you start your own patch, which will last forever with some care, don't waste time trying to start it from seed. Get some roots from someone with an established bed; also, any reputable seed company sells the roots.

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susan g
susan g June 10, 2013

In my local small grocery in NH, local rhubarb is $.50 per stalk. Let's face it, there's no free lunch -- or dessert.

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LauriL
LauriL June 11, 2013

I just bought a jar (8oz) of freshly made strawberry/rhubarb preserves from a farmer in my home town of Ashford CT and it was only $5.00!! And that included the jar!! Obviously he did not pass along his labor or gas costs to the consumer! I must ask him next week how he breaks down his costs.

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