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The left sidebar on this page leads to the lengthy background resources contained within the original FMC Evaluation manual funded by an FMPP grant. However much of the information in those resources can also be found below and on our farmersmarketmetrics.guide site in a more readable format.
Contact us to offer new resources to this page and feel free to also upload them to the Resource Library under Evaluation.
These Excel Workbooks are a great place to start even if you do not plan to use the Metrics software.
We know it all can be a bit overwhelming and we want to break it down to a few simple rules to start:
1. Collect as little data as possible. Be strict with yourself and your stakeholders. Some of our stakeholders forget that the market is not a laboratory, but an actual mercantile space! Also, every piece of data you collect will need to be checked (probably by you) for accuracy and relevance so the less added work the better.
2. Hone those audiences for the data. Using a few simple tools such as this one below, you should break it down to a few actors each season that you want to influence or keep engaged.
3. Start with the simple data. Any data point that requires complete collection (like vendor sales) or advanced calculations (like average sale per shopper) should be a later goal and not a goal at the beginning.
4. Promise yourself that for each main data point (metric) that you gather, you will use it often. On social media, in your email signature, on chalkboards, shared with vendors.
Audience Identification Exercise
First, identify the audience(s) that will assist your market in meeting the goals of a project or of your market season. Most markets spend a great deal of their energy and time communicating with audiences that already support the market. While it is important to appreciate existing supporters, it is also essential to reach those who are ambivalent or unaware of the market in their community. A disciplined evaluation project speaks the same language to many audiences, no matter how much they already know about how markets work.
One way to assess whether your market is only “preaching to the choir” is to consider how and where you communicate with your audiences. If Facebook and other social media sites are your chief avenues of communication, then your market is likely only updating current shoppers and existing stakeholders. If the market’s website is the main place news is shared, the market is sharing information primarily with strong supporters who might only see the information sporadically.
Both of those are a good use of management time, but what about new supporters who are less familiar with the history of the market or about farmers markets in general? What about funders that don’t normally fund food system work but are interested in tackling food insecurity and supporting farmers?
An in-depth market evaluation project will measure impacts on as many audiences as necessary, keeping in mind the time and effort it will take to collect and analyze that data. Choosing the right metrics for your market means first thinking about how many groups of unique audiences can be found within your market community: experienced vendors, regular shoppers, new shoppers, benefit program shoppers (i.e., SNAP or WIC recipients), Main Street business neighbors, and other populations. Once you have an idea of the audiences that need data on your market, you can sort through the Farmers Market Metrics to find those that work for distinct audiences.
Here’s an example of choosing a metric that will help guide a marketing strategy:
Market A wants to promote the number of products available on a single market day. By using data collected from vendors on their products with the metric number of different fruits and vegetable crops available for sale on the annual application, the market can advertise that list of produce when the spring season begins.
Here’s an example of choosing a metric related to sharing information with an identified audience:
Market B is embarking on a funding partnership with city public health agencies to add a cash incentive when visitors use their SNAP card. This project will collect data with two metrics: The Number of SNAP transactions and the Average number of SNAP-eligible goods per market day. If data is collected before and after the incentive is offered, those two metrics will show if there was any change in sales, and if sales vary based on how many products are at the market. Having that data available to share with the partner agencies will show the effects of the funding and may help support the continuation of the program.
Exercise: Using individual post-it notes, have your team write down the people or groups that your market needs to communicate data to in the next few months or season. Audiences to consider include specific extension agents, new farmers, board members, anchor vendors, area funders focused on education or ecological issues, print media, statewide farmers market leaders, at-risk residents, neighboring businesses, town leaders. Have those stakeholders participating in this exercise be as specific as possible when listing possible audiences, like so:
Once they write those post-its, have them put them on the spectrum. See if most of your audiences seem to cluster in only one area. For example, if you are mostly focused on talking to “strongly supportive” stakeholders then you may want to expand to others on the spectrum. If you are only focused on “strongly skeptical” stakeholders, you might be expecting too much of your data and your team all at once!
After you settle on a few important audiences, try to find metrics that they all (or some) have in common to reduce the number of metrics you will need to collect.