Posted On: April 14, 2010
Last December, the Farmers Market Coalition awarded mini-grants of $500 each to support educational events for farmers market managers and producers in January-March 2010. How did our mini-grant recipients fare? Let’s take a look.
On February 1, the Kansas Rural Center hosted the first-ever Kansas Farmers Market Manager and Board Conference in Topeka, with hands-on workshops covering topics such asRapid Market Assessments, SEED studies, small town markets, vendor and volunteer recruitment and retention, social media, and vetting vendors. Project coordinator Mercedes Taylor-Puckett reports that the event was a ‘great success,’ and is thankful for the mini-grant, which allowed KRC to cover much of the travel costs of its keynote speaker, Darlene Wolnik of marketumbrella.org.
The 2010 Farmers Market Conference on January 26 convened around 100 market managers in Annapolis, Maryland for a day of networking and educational sessions on EBT systems, SNAP coordination, innovative marketing, and regulatory issues. The Maryland Department of Agriculture used its grant to support the travel costs and honorarium for its keynote speaker, Diane Eggert of the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York. Diane spoke about the benefits of farmers market associations and provided tips for the creation of a farmers market association in Maryland, a discussion that conference-goers found particularly timely, inspiring, and exciting.
MIFMA held its 3rd Annual Market Manager Boot Camp in East Lansing, Michigan on March 9. The day-long boot camp provided intensive market management training for over 100 market managers through roundtable discussions, networking, and break-out sessions. MIFMA used its FMC funds to develop and implement online registration for the event.
On January 23, the Missouri Farmers Market Association held its annual market manager training day in Cabool, Missouri—the first time the training day was held at a location hosted by a member market, instead of at the annual meeting of another state organization. Although the board was initially concerned that members would not drive the extra distance to attend without the added incentive of a state association meeting, attendance at the event was double that of previous years: 58 participants, compared with 30 in 2009, 21 in 2008, and 24 in 2007. This was due in no small part to Missouri’s FMC mini-grant, which went towards travel subsidies for many of the attendees. However, credit must also be given to the training day’s fantastic programming—all of the speakers received ratings ranging from ‘good’ to ‘great,’ and participants uniformly reported that the experience was ‘very informative and helpful.’
Ohio’s first conference for farmers’ market managers and vendors was held March 4 and 5, 2010 at the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) in Reynoldsburg. More than eightyfarmers market supporters were in attendance, representing twenty-seven Ohio counties and nearly fifty farmers markets and vendors. Conference attendees were welcomed to the event by Robert Boggs, ODA Director, Fred Deel, Governor’s Office of Appalachia Director, Mark Krist, Farmers’ Market Management Network Board President; and Dr. Tom Worley, The Ohio State University South Centers Director. The two-day conference featured speakers covering topics including Best Practices in Marketing and Food Safety and Good Agricultural Practices. Twelve conference attendees participated in a Show n’ Tell Marketing Contest, where they were asked to bring their farm or market’s best marketing piece or idea for judging. Entries included flyers, brochures, event schedules, postcards, t-shirts, canvas bags, bumper stickers, cookbooks, websites, display boards, market sign quilt, and a performance of a market opening, where the market manager runs through the market with an OPEN banner in one hand and a pinwheel in the other. FMC’s mini-grant funds sponsored online and DVD video coverage of conference presentations, as well as travel costs for keynote speaker Dru Montri.
On February 26, the Oregon Farmers Market Association held its annual Market Managers Forum in Corvallis, Oregon. Over 65 market managers were in attendance, many of whom stayed for the next day’s two market manager training tracks at Oregon State University’s Small Farms Conference. Both training tracks—The Business of Farmers Markets and It’s a SNAP—had over-capacity crowds. OFMA used FMC’s grant for space rental, facilitation, and materials for both of these highly successful events.
The South Carolina Association of Farmers Markets hosted a market management workshop in Columbia, South Carolina this February.Guided by experts from South CarolinaExtension, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and a certified public accountant, the event gave fifty market managers a boost in their grant application skills. FMC’s mini-granthelped cover meals, materials, and presenter stipends for the event.
The 2010 Washington State Farmers Market Association conference, “Raising the Canopy Together,” was attended by 36 farmers, 38 board members, and 72 market staff, and was keynoted by the Farmers Market Coalition’s very own Stacy Miller. FMC’s mini-grant went to support travel expenses for conference presenters. These presenters’ talks were reportedly so successful that next year, WSFMA plans to have presenters speak more than once so attendees will not have to face the dilemma of choosing between them!
In March, the West Virginia Farmers Market Association used its mini-grant to provide $125 scholarships to its four newest farmers market members, enabling these new markets to attend the West Virginia Small Farm Conference. The farmers market track of the conference was a hit, with participants giving top scores to the presentations on “1st Year Lessons on Starting a Farmers Market” and “Ideas for Infusing Energy into Farmers Market Boards.”