How Markets Can Help Farmer Vendors: Management Changes

To better understand the evolving needs of farmers markets and the farmers who sell at them, American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition teamed up with C2It Marketing to complete a national survey of farmers who sell at farmers markets. This is part of a series of posts on the results of this survey. Read the other posts here.

Direct-marketing farmers were asked, “What could be done to help you and your farmers market be more successful?

Market Management

Many farmers noted that various changes in market management would improve their experience and sales at markets.

Several farmers expressed the need for a market manager that is neither a farmer nor a vendor, explaining:

“Less in-fighting between farmers on the board of our farmer’s market [would help us and our market]. We recently quit one market [because] of this. Instead of working to compete against the larger food system, small town farmers too often view each other as competitors. Instead of thinking about giving the consumer the best and most diverse choices, they are more concerned about shutting each other out. FM boards should not be composed mostly of farmers, I believe. Too much conflict of interest.”

conflict-of-interests

Different farmers selling at different markets asked for different management changes. Though opposing suggestions, either may be relevant for markets to consider. While one farmer asked that managers “Limit competition of like vendors”, another noted that “Farmers market managers need to allow more competition among vendors by allowing more than one vendor per category. Competition motivates improvements in product quality among growers and is good for customers. Our current system promotes a monopoly by a small number of farmers, locking out new and beginning farmers.”

Other responses mentioned a desire for:

  • “Clarity and enforcement of the rules.”
  • “Proper facilities, access to electricity, parking & organized leadership.”
  • “More farmers, less crafters”
  • “[Making markets] not so political to attend.”

Read more about the survey responses…


About the Survey:

The Direct Market Farmers: National Survey, conducted in March 2015, yielded an impressive response from over 1,500 farmers and ranchers across the United States, benchmarking this survey as one of the largest of its kind completed on record.

US-based farmers and ranchers invited to participate in the survey were selected based on their online presence (e.g. email, website, food/agriculture directory, etc.) and an indication of participation in the following activities:

  • Farmers markets and/or CSAs
  • Selling directly to consumers
  • Local, regional and/or federal agriculture programs
  • Educational studies