Farmers Market Metrics

Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) and its partners advocate for the more than 8,200 markets with a unified message: that farmers markets offer multiple benefits to multiple audiences.

Preservation of rural livelihoods and farmland
Stimulation of local economies
Increased access to fresh, nutritious food
Support for healthy communities

Forty-plus years after the market revival began, most markets expect to have many impacts: curating local agriculture sales, acting as the town square, encouraging knowledge sharing, expanding new businesses and new initiatives, and offering healthier options for all including for at-risk citizens. Markets often have other less universal goals too, such as welcoming immigrant communities, or supporting non-market initiatives. However, reports that show the multiple benefits of markets the unique market characteristics that deliver those benefits are often only anecdotal if they exist at all.

Therefore, any measurement of success for markets across the US needs to identify universal indicators for any or all of these changes, to allow markets to compare that change to others while still making room for each market and its partners to tell its own unique story. It’s also important not to duplicate the tools already available and to support existing data collection initiatives.

Farmers Market Metrics: A Timeline

FMC’s Early Evaluation Work
In 2008, Farmers Market Coalition sponsored a trans•act fellowship in Los Angeles, to lead Market Umbrella’s Neighborhood Exchange Evaluation Device (NEED) research in eight selected farmers markets throughout the southern California area. In addition, Stacy Miller, then FMC’s Executive Secretary, served as an advisor to the trans•act research.

In 2010, the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Communities Putting Prevention to Work Program (CPPW) funded the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) to provide technical assistance to their grantees as they sought to implement community-based healthy food interventions. This work, under project director Sara Padilla, included a technical assistance collaboration between CFSC and Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) to provide evaluation support to city and county public health agencies that had farmers markets in their projects. In the course of this process, FMC, with the assistance of consultants Suzanne Briggs and Darlene Wolnik, developed “Learning Circles” with the grantees to identify common characteristics, struggles, and successes of markets. Some of this work was presented during an FMC “SNAP/EBT Short Course” hosted at the national CFSC Conference in November 2011, receiving valuable input from participants as well as the markets that were members of the CPPW Learning Circles.

The 2014 Summary Report Prototype Project, funded by the Knight Foundation created simple reporting templates for markets. Twelve markets participated in the 6-month project and led to metric graphics and one-page reports for the Farmers Market Metrics program.

Indicators for Impact: Farmers Markets as Leaders in Collaborative Food System Data Collection and Analysis
April 2014 – March 2017: The Farmers Market Coalition announces a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) for a three-year research study, funded by USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), to test metrics and data collection methodologies with nine markets across the country.

Farmers Market Metrics Training Materials
October 2014 – March 2016: The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Farmers Market Promotion Program funded the Farmers Market Coalition to create an series of training materials for farmers market practitioners on effective data collection strategies. In 2017, the materials will be added to the Farmers Market Metrics data management site to be used by the FMM pilot projects, with a wider rollout expected later once the testing of the materials and site is completed.

2017 Earned Media Project, District of Columbia and Virginia FMPP project
Goals of the project are to increase state capacity to support markets, collect data on market-level impacts, plan and implement content marketing strategies in Virginia and Washington D.C., and improve farmers market marketing content across the country.

Market Evaluation Background

The diagram below shows the components necessary for a market evaluation project. Farmers Market Metrics will ultimately provide links and resources for all these stages of measurement.

Over the years, farmers markets have used existing instruments and protocols for data collection and evaluation in markets. The Farmers Market Metrics Program identified, adapted and refined many of these instruments and protocols to be regularly used by markets with limited resources.

Background of FMM/History of data collection at markets



Metrics are, simply put, a standard of measurement. In the last few years, the term has been used to illustrate impacts at every level, from non-profits to governments. A metric compares two or more specific units of measurement, often expressed as {Number of X} per {Unit of time or space}. In a market context, a metric might be expressed as “Total producer sales per year”.
The current list of metrics and additional resources on metrics

Data Collection Methods

Understanding the potential benefits and limitations of different types of data and the resources required to collect it can help markets make informed choices about what to collect and when. The key is to think through what types of data will work best given the market’s metrics, capacity and goals.
More information about data collection

Data Entry

Data management and entry is the aggregation of clean data into one computer file (often a spreadsheet) where it can be stored and analyzed. For many markets, this step is the most difficult to manage properly, yet is crucial to any evaluation plan.

More about data management

Analysis and Reporting

Analysis is the process of identifying patterns and correlations within raw data, translating it into usable information. Analysis can answer some important questions such as “How is this market benefiting vendors?” or “How are attitudes, behaviors and knowledge changing as a result of the market?

More about data analysis and reporting

Data Management Portals

One of the most important parts of any measurement plan is how and where the data will be managed and stored. In recent years, cloud-based software has been adapted to offer many versions of data management systems. From vendor databases to data collection apps, the functionality of these sites continues to increase. Farmers Market Coalition shares information and works with other projects whenever possible to encourage a wide spectrum of options for markets. Learn More

News and Announcements

New and announcements related to the Farmers Market Metrics Program can be found on this page.


Acknowledgements and Funding

Acknowledgements and past and current funders for Farmers Market Metrics Program are listed here

2017 Earned Media Project


Farmers Market Metrics Listserv

A listserv has been set up to respond to inquiries and questions around data collection and evaluation at farmers markets. You are encouraged to join the discussion. To join the listserv, go to the google site and fill out the form. A moderator will contact you soon.