Indicators for Impact: Farmers Markets as Leaders in Collaborative Food System Data Collection and Analysis

Indicators for Impact: Farmers Markets as Leaders in Collaborative Food System Data Collection and Analysis is a three-year research study funded by USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) in which the University of Wisconsin-Madison in collaboration with Farmers Market Coalition is seeking to identify data measures and collection tools and help markets and their partners integrate these into a long-term measurement strategy through training and technical assistance. Dr. Alfonso Morales is the Principal Investigator for the project. 

The impetus of the project was the perceived challenge of grassroots data collection and a current lack of training for market communities to become more adept at collecting and using appropriate data. Our project responds to this most pressing question: how can market organizations and their project partners collect and use decision-making data they need in a disciplined and timely way?

Nine markets across the country are currently testing data collection and reporting protocols. The project team gathered known metrics used over the past decade in markets and food system research and prioritized those that could be easily gathered by the market community itself. The project began in April 2014 and will conclude in March 2017.

AFRI team at work

Photo, right to left: Dr. Alfonso Morales, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jenny Hudson and Maria Arnot, Williamson Farmers Market

News and Announcements

AFRI Project Team

The AFRI Project Team is comprised of staff from the Farmers Market Coalition and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Alfonso Morales, Principal Investigator and Associate Professor, Department of  Urban and Regional Planning, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Sara Padilla, Project Manager for the Farmers Market Coalition and co-Principal Investigator, lead a team of committed and experienced professionals  located across the country.

Project Team

  • Alfonso Morales, Project Director and Principal Investigator, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Sara Padilla, Project Manager and co-Principal Investigator, Farmers Market Coalition
  • Jen Cheek, Executive Director, Farmers Market Coalition
  • Darlene Wolnik, Senior Research Associate, Farmers Market Coalition
  • Lauren Suerth, PhD candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Youn Hee Jeong, PhD candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison


The following nine markets are participating in the Indicators for Impact project pilot.


AFRI Vendor Application Metrics January 2015 (not yet publicly available)

Calendar and Data Collection Team Tips

Template Market Letter to Vendors

AFRI Project 2014/2015 Metric Selection Worksheet (updated October 2014)

Timeline of Activities

Glossary of Terms and Vendor Chart


Note: The metrics used in this pilot project are continually being refined so please email for the most updated list of metrics before inserting them into your own project.

Data Collection in Action!


Sample visitor survey completed at Williamsburg Farmers Market