Metrics/Evaluation 2.0, Part Three

      Posted On: August 26, 2019

An update from FMC Senior Advisor Darlene Wolnik on the ongoing development of its Metrics product and on FMC’s work in providing overall evaluation and technical assistance to markets and networks.

How can networks help markets?

Overall, we find that networks have to restrain from prescribing all of the data points that markets should be collecting, or assuming that all will want to use the data in the same manner,  while also take a firm stand at establishing acceptable baseline protocols collecting the data that the network will share. Those points are central to Metrics 2.0 and will guide what and how we develop resources and the site.

Other activities for networks that help build and support this emerging culture: 

  • providing real-time technical assistance and training. Not only for data collection and use, but also to grow the programs, partner relationships and impacts around each market. After all, all of it is data-related.


  • creating or adapting network-wide data collection and entry systems. In many cases, this can be shared between organizations and can be modeled on other states or other food system systems.


  • directly overseeing entry and cleaning of data when necessary, especially for volunteer-run markets. (This should be limited as having networks working in these market accounts means they have access to data they wouldn’t normally see without permission from the market.)


  • physically aiding in data collection or entry at least once per season. Nothing beats seeing the issues first-hand.


  • enlisting data partners for those markets wanting deeper analysis. Researchers are eager to use this data and will help collect it too. It is just important that the market leaders still own the step of checking and cleaning the data entered as needed.


  • introducing and refining the concept of data-driven markets to reluctant vendors. Understandably, vendors are leery of sharing sensitive data with their markets who have often not shown any inclination in that data previously. Yet it is also true that many market vendors are as data-driven in their own businesses as some of these markets. In order to build the vendor partnerships, it is vital that data useful to those vendors is where markets begin with data collection, even while they commit to safeguarding all sensitive data from business competitors or other prying eyes by only using aggregated or anonymized data. Having vendor buy-in is a long process for many markets and cannot be rushed or dismissed. Networks can help by illustrating policy changes made through sharing real struggles of small businesses, explaining that policymakers love the story, but also want the data. 


  • assisting in the creation of market day systems to release markets from routine work that is ready to be handed to new staff or volunteers. 


  • creating narratives around markets that also showcase the work of market operators.


  • help to fundraise for markets to have paid data staff, temporary or not.


  • lead in creative uses of data in that market’s community and also at the regional or state level.


  • be actively involved in all of their clusters to better understand the markets needs.


  • Work with other network leaders  to learn more about evaluation.

Part 1: Background


Part 2: Market Needs/Types


Part 4: FMC’s Role