Planning Underway for MIFMA’s Market Manager Certificate Program

      Posted On: November 3, 2009

by Dru Montri, Association Manager of the Michigan Farmers Market Association

The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) was formed in 2006 as a statewide association to promote local food consumption in Michigan by connecting more farmers to consumers through farmers markets. Together, Michigan market managers, vendors, and partners determined that our collective mission is to create a thriving marketplace for local food and farm products through the advancement of farmers markets.  Over the last three years, this mission has guided MIFMA’s growth and organizational development.

As one means for advancing Michigan farmers markets, MIFMA has committed to providing professional development and networking opportunities for those individuals responsible for farmers market daily operations, market governance, and market sustainability. We understand that market manager skills and responsibilities are critical for farmers markets to succeed in serving farmers, vendors, and consumers. When we found out in September that our USDA FMPP grant Professional Development for Michigan Farmers Markets would receive full funding, we were thrilled to start planning for a Market Manager Certificate Program.

Over the next year, MIFMA’s Professional Development Committee will develop the Certificate Program’s curriculum and promotional materials with a goal of launching the Program in November 2010. MIFMA’s Market Manager Certificate Program will include training for new market managers and continuing education for current and experienced market managers as well as networking and information sharing opportunities. To receive certification, market managers will be required to attend six day-long sessions organized by the following topic areas:

  1. Market Governance, Rules, and Enforcement
  2. Business Planning, Market Growth Management, and Recordkeeping
  3. Human Relations and Conflict Management
  4. Marketing and Outreach
  5. Food Safety
  6. Fundraising

We know that the time and travel required for busy market mangers to participate in the six day-long sessions of the Certificate Program won’t work for everyone. Consequently, we will also develop a MIMA Cyber Institute, which will include distance learning curricula based on the educational components of the Certificate Program. These online sessions will be available to market managers in Michigan and across the country 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We have funding for the initial phase of development and the creation of two online learning modules that will be made available online beginning April 2011.

While some of our launch dates seem years away, the development of the Certificate Program and Cyber Institute coincides with MIFMA’s current strategic planning process.  We see developing professional expertise for our Board, staff, and active members as an essential first step to developing a sound Certificate Program. Our goal is to first provide strategic coaching for our Board and members and then reach a minimum of 100 individuals through the Certificate Program and certify 10% of all attendees in the first year.

As planning gets underway, MIFMA welcomes other interested organizations with similar goals to join us. Our professional development programs could be implemented in other states, and we are happy to share our resources as a model for other interested state associations. Just as the Farmers Market Coalition has been a great resource for us to learn from others across the country, we would love to be able to contribute to the growing number of resources available for farmers market managers. To learn more about MIFMA’s Market Manager Certificate Program, contact Dru Montri at (517) 432-3381 or