Farmers Market Metrics Prototype Released

By: Darlene Wolnik, Research Lead and Independent Trainer at Helping Public Markets Grow       Posted On: July 8, 2014

As hundreds of markets open for the year and others begin their summer season, the Farmers Market Coalition held a kickoff of its own, unveiling the first round of prototype reports from the Farmers Market Metrics project.

The Farmers Market Metrics project is a multifaceted measurement initiative conducted in partnership with advocacy groups, market organizations, public agencies and universities to capture and communicate the economic, social, human and ecological benefits of markets. In May 2014, FMC Project Director Sara Padilla posted news of the three-year Indicators for Impact project in partnership with the University of Wisconsin, led by Professor Alfonso Morales. That project, funded through a USDA Agriculture Research Food Initiative (AFRI) grant program, will research and pilot collection of metrics at nine market sites across the U.S. and communicate those impacts with aggregate, disciplined measurement and “infographic” style reporting. The metrics used in this work are collected from current market reports and from other civic projects, in coordination with food system evaluators across North America. The project will refine each metric and its corresponding indicator, collect or create a data collection curriculum and publish the challenges, solutions and strategies identified throughout the life of the project.

Since 2012, FMC has also partnered with Professor Paul Freedman at the University of Virginia’s Morven Institute to discuss and test evaluation techniques for farmers markets. Additionally, FMC has offered training webinars and analysis on market evaluation since the organization’s founding in 2006.

Early iterations of the Farmers Market Metrics reports were crafted in a Knight Foundation funded project that ran from January to June 2014. To create these reports, FMC Executive Director Jen O’Brien and researcher Darlene Wolnik worked with eight markets to upload 2013 data into social media graphics and user-friendly reports.  The markets that worked on the prototype report project included:

/  Mississippi Farmers Market, Jackson MS
/  Countryside Conservancy Market at Howe Meadow, Akron and Peninsula OH
/  Carrboro Farmers Market, Carrboro NC
/  Oregon City Farmers Market, Oregon City OR
/  Winooski Farmers Market, Winooski VT
/  Upper Eastside Farmers Market, Miami FL
/  Southwest Community Farmers Market, Miami FL
/  Fondy Farmers Market, Milwaukee WI

These markets uploaded already collected data to populate those reports; the indicators chosen were based on external audiences’ requests for that data and the strong potential for markets to have it on hand.

/  Number of Vendors
/  Total amount of SNAP and/or FMNP benefit redemption
/  Percentage of vendors under the age of 35
/  Visitor Count
/  Total Farm acreage
/  Total Sales
/  Average distance from food origin to market site
/  Total number of varieties of fruit and vegetables offered
/  Debit/credit sales
/  Quantity of zip codes

Others (optional):
/  Total number of organic products available
/  Number of women and minority vendors
/  Number of educational events


Draft reports were sent to markets in early May and have already been used in a multitude of ways by the market organizers, from Facebook posts, press releases, print articles and even t-shirt designs. The project also designed a messaging strategy and communication guide for the markets to use.

Here are a few examples of how the markets used the graphics and data in the first few weeks:

MM examples

As additional funding for this work is confirmed, the Farmers Market Metrics project will continue to provide tailored reports and measurement strategies for markets to pilot. Market feedback will be continually solicited to refine the design and implementation of the project. By engaging in and leading this collaborative approach to finding ways to encourage high quality and efficient data collection at farmers markets across the country, market leadership and their stakeholders will benefit and learn from the Farmers Market Metrics initiative.