1.0 Introduction

The Farmers Market Metrics (FMM) Training series explains the type of information markets should collect, how to collect  in ways that are statistically valid, what you can do with it once collected, and how to communicate it effectively to those interested in your market.

Each of the FMM training units can be studied independently, but it’s best not to skip around. Do your best to complete the units in the order presented. Each unit contains PDFs, templates, and optional resources for additional information.

There is also a worksheet you should use throughout the series. It includes questions and exercises to complete for each unit. Once you complete them, this worksheet may serve as a draft evaluation plan for your market.

Here’s an outline of the training materials in our FMM Training series:

  • 2.0 Metric Selection
    How to select the most appropriate and useful metrics to meet your needs for data collection – in other words, how to decide what you want to pay attention to and use.
  • 3.0 Methods and Implementation
    How to implement research, observation, and survey methods to gather your data, and recommendations for matching the methods to the chosen metrics.
  • 4.0 Data Entry
    This unit discusses best practices in data management and includes video tutorials of the FMM website as well as worksheets for offline data management.
  • 5.0 Data Analysis and Reporting
    How to turn your data into metrics and then into summary reports.
  • 6.0 Communication Guide
    How to communicate the data you’ve collected. Offers sample messaging, templates, and best practices using selected metrics and contextual citations.

Your Market’s Impact

Farmers markets across the country have a big impact on the communities they serve.  They provide multiple benefits to many different groups of people, including:

  • + Preserving rural livelihoods and farmland
  • + Stimulating local economies
  • Increasing access to fresh, nutritious food
  • + Supporting healthy communities

This training series will help you gather, manage, and report data so you can manage your market better, understand the fluctuations in your market throughout the season and year to year, and integrate your market data with other markets’ data to show a larger network impact.

Good Data Comes from Good Data Collection

For market advocates like Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), having good data that many markets collect the same way and can share at the same time is crucial to explaining why markets need more support, and why policy changes are necessary for increasing the positive impacts of markets. For those reasons, FMC began work on Farmers Market Metrics with researchers to test existing evaluation materials and create these adapted FMM versions.

Even though you may find the instructions very detailed or even exacting, the same methods must be used for all markets to be useful. Any significant deviation from them should be checked with a research partner or FMC before beginning data collection. This is also true of the data collection questions supplied with each metric within FMM training materials. The FMM team spent many hours researching and crafting the best questions to be asked of vendors, shoppers or others, and questions included in this training have been tested with different market pilots.

We will offer some tips for designing questions on your own, and we encourage markets to use those we have supplied exactly as written. If you are using other metrics not yet included in the FMM Training, we suggest that you first look through existing evaluation materials and talk to researchers to create the best possible question for the data needed.

By now, you are no doubt wondering who is going to do all this data collection and number crunching. Your market may not currently have enough staff or volunteers to add regular data collection to its lengthy to-do list. It is likely that your market may need to recruit additional volunteers, reassign organizational staff, or even secure outside funding to facilitate data collection. For that very reason, FMM methods have been refined to work for largely volunteer or low-capacity markets. We also offer strategies for gathering and managing the data collection team.

So, What Are Metrics Anyway?

It may be helpful at the beginning of this training to review the companion glossary for words used within these materials. One important word listed and defined in the glossary is metrics. Throughout this training, we’ll be using the same measurements of your market’s impacts – we refer to those numerical measurements as metrics (see Figure 1.1 below)Simply put, metrics are standards of measurement. In the last few years, this term has been used to illustrate impacts at every level in the workplace, from non-profits to governments to global corporations. Search online for “metrics” and “city” or “food system” and you’ll see many of those uses. The most important thing to know about the FMM metrics is that they have been selected because they are regularly used by markets. They have also been closely edited to arrive at the most universal (and useful) language possible.

The Metrics Table that is an attachment to this training presents the metrics along with the collection methods, instruments, and frequency recommended for each one. Don’t worry! All of this will be explained further in Training Units 2-5.