What will America’s farmers markets look like 25 years from now?
Since the Farmers Market Coalition’s founding in 2006, its staff and board of directors ponders this question regularly. FMC envisions a sector that’s strongly networked across county and state lines, with communities recognizing their intrinsic worth and supporting them accordingly. Vibrant, adaptive organizations that are microcosms of democracy and models for transparent governance and effective management, respected and looked up to by other emerging nonprofit enterprises. Refreshing marketplaces that offer choice and high quality for consumers regardless of income level. Retail hubs that support truly viable family farms attractive to the next generation of rural entrepreneurs. A civic economy where each and every one of us can vote with our dollars, knowing that the feedback loop is short and effective, not funneled through a distance corporate headquarters. Though this is a long-range vision, evidence of gradual movement toward it emerges almost daily, whether through the inspiring peer-to-peer conversations on the FMC listserv, collaboration between markets at more and more statewide manager conferences, or the one-by-one inquiries submitted by FMC members seeking a helpful hand with a local issue.
Beginning April 25th, FMC will begin a six week countdown to its sixth anniversary (June 6), and invites anyone with an interest in seeing farmers markets thrive to join the party. During FMC’s Annual Spring Campaign (in which the board seeks to raise $20,000), FMC will be celebrating by offering a unique spectrum of special thank you gifts for those who donate to support the mission of strengthening farmers markets. Every Wednesday during the annual campaign, an FMC board members will announce another special offer, including limited edition gifts like autographed copies of Nikki McClure’s inspiring children’s book To Market, To Market, the newly revised Food Fight from Watershed Media, Sandra Garson’s creative cookbook How to Fix a Leek, FMC-branded aluminum water bottles (made in the USA by union workers of IUE-CWA Local 648) from Ethix Merch, and Sam Mogannam and Dabney Gough’s Eat Good Food: Grocer’s Guide to Shopping, Cooking, and Creating Community Through Food.
In addition, FMC will issue an ‘end of the fiscal year’ Farmer Recruitment Challenge to help existing members give farmers a stronger voice. Between April 25th and June 6th, the existing member organization who recruits the most producers to join FMC will receive a free full registration for the International Public Markets Conference, September 21st-23rd in Cleveland, Ohio. This offer is made possible by our friends at the Project for Public Spaces. To make spreading the word among farmers easier, FMC will offer a new “social media cheat sheet” to members each week, with quick, cut and paste language they can use to share their coalition pride with the farmers and food producers in your region!
Stay tuned for a Spring Campaign launch email from FMC’s President Bernadine Prince on April 25th. Questions? Want to help support the Annual Campaign goal by committing matching funds? Contact Liz Comiskey at Liz@farmersmarketcoalition.org.