Farmers Market Coalition Comes to Charlottesville

      Posted On: October 18, 2011

The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), a national nonprofit incorporated in Iowa in 2006, now has presence in Charlottesville, Virginia.  This summer, Executive Director Stacy Miller relocated to the city, and brought the organization with her. FMC is committed to strengthening farmers markets across the country for the mutual benefit of farmers, consumers, and communities, and is now bringing this goal to Charlottesville.

This is an exciting period of growth for farmers markets, as their numbers have more than tripled in the United States since 1994. In this context, the Farmers Market Coalition works to connect farmers markets with information and resources to help them succeed. The organization, which has volunteer board of 17 members across the country, builds networks between farmers markets of all sizes to share best practices and help one another succeed. At the national level, FMC also informs public policy by translating the knowledge and needs of practitioners in the field to federal decision-makers.

”Merging agriculture, and civic engagement is nothing new to Charlottesville,” says Stacy Miller, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition.  “I’m thrilled that FMC has found such a welcoming home base from which to help the national farmers market movement grow and thrive.” Since moving to Charlottesville, Miller has advised a research team of University of Virginia (UVA) faculty and City Market stakeholders as they undertake a comprehensive data-collection effort that will inform and strengthen the market’s role in the community.  FMC also is collaborating with the Morven Summer Institute, an interdisciplinary program based at UVA’s Morven Farm, and is assisting in the planning of next summer’s programming.

Market Central, the nonprofit dedicated to preserving and enhancing the markets sponsored by the City of Charlottesville, is one of several hundred members of FMC.

This month, the Farmers Market Coalition hired Natalie Roper, a third year student at the University of Virginia, as FMC’s 2011-2012 Research and Education intern. Roper has been working with a team through the Jefferson Public Citizens program at UVA to survey City Market customers to provide a foundation of data for the Market. FMC has  advised in this project and will continue to do so in the next year. Roper, an American Politics major from Richmond, says “this internship is an exciting opportunity to put our local research into a national context, and learn more about the practices and policies influencing farmers markets around the country.”