FMC Pilots Educational Sponsorships in Three States

      Posted On: April 15, 2009

As part of its goal to support the efforts of state farmers market organizations, FMC recently offered small sponsorships to three of its members holding statewide training events. Pending future available funding, FMC plans to continue and expand its support of such educational trainings in 2009. What follows is a brief summary of the events receiving mini-grants so far this year.

The Colorado Farmers’ Market Association held its annual meeting on March 13-14, 2009, and achieved a 67% increase in attendance from the 2008 meeting. With FMC support, they offered $50 scholarships to new CFMA member markets and new managers. Executive Director of CFMA, Sally Haines, “We gave six scholarships to Briargate Farmers Market, Louisville Farmers Market, Pagosa Farmers Market, Dillon Farmers Market, Colorado Agricultural Marketing Cooperative, and Colorado Farm and Art Market.” Stipends were also made available for CFMA board members to cover a portion their travel costs.

Discussion topics included Colorado Extension’s Building New Farmers Program, the CFMA strategic plan, dot surveys, and regulatory issues like food vendor classification, sales tax, new egg laws, and home kitchen processing. “Our agenda at the meeting was primarily an effort to educate our members about the regulatory challenges which we have seen recently,
and the ways in which markets can work to effect policy and reasonable regulations for farmers markets in Colorado.” Haines credits the increased attendance to “greater interest in the issues as well as in the mission and efforts of CFMA on behalf of its members.” CFMA has worked hard in the last few years to convince farmers of the need to work together to promote direct marketing, and the offer of scholarships served as “tangible evidence of
our commitment to helping markets succeed.”

The Minnesota Farmers Market Association (MFMA) hosted the “Dynamic Farmers Markets: Building on Success” Conference on March 27th in Maple Grove, Minnesota. A stipend from FMC allowed the organization to reproduce copies of the customer service DVD “Selling Your Best” for all attending markets to show to their producers, with extra copies to be given to the market managers who could not attend. MFMA President John Ulland said “we have outgrown our facility for our spring conference, with the attendance up to 81 this year.” Out of 35 markets represented, seven were start-up markets, and Ulland sees this as evidence that “the popularity of farmers markets continues to grow, as does the need for our service.” Presentation topics at the conference included different business structure options for farmers markets, the pros and cons of nonprofit status, and strategic planning.

In scenic Acadia National Park, nearly 100 market managers, farmers, and municipal officials attended the first ever Maine Farmers’ Market Convention on March 20th-23rd. Coordinated by the Downeast Bussiness Alliance (, the training event included presentations on volunteer recruitment, EBT programs, licensing for production and processing, recruiting farmers, working with municipalities, and how to write an FMPP grant proposal. With the support of FMC and other sponsors, the convention was able to attract people from throughout the state and build a foundation from which to expand the event next year. Photos, handouts, and presentations from the event are available on-line at the convention’s web site.