Williamsburg Farmers Market: An Experiential Market.
Posted On: March 3, 2017
Congratulations to Virginia’s Williamsburg Farmers Market for going on 15 years, and we’d like to warmly welcome them again as FMC Guest Instagrammers. Williamsburg sets up every market Saturday and is a swirl of familiar faces, musical tunes, and fresh food, all of which provide enough to carry home, and enough to come back for more.
Market manager Tracy Herner describes the market environment that has cultivated community. “A vendor recently told me the thing that really made the market special to her was that we catered to all customers, from those who were on food stamps to those with expendable income. It made her proud to be part of it.”
Herner continues, “The Williamsburg Farmers Market is a family of vendors and customers. It’s an experiential market designed to extend the shopping experience, and transform it into something more. Whether it’s neighbors meeting for coffee, or teachers running into students, if you live in Williamsburg and visit the market, you are likely to see someone you know!”
Follow the food, fun, and festivities via our Instagram as Williamsburg takes over!
Farmers Market Coalition: Give us a little bit of market history.
Tracy Herner: The Williamsburg Farmers Market will be celebrating the 15th anniversary all season long! The market is a not-for-profit 501C6, and so has a 13 person Board of Directors that oversees the market. The market has had a paid market manager since 2001. In 16 seasons, there have only been two managers!
The Williamsburg Farmers Market is a producer-only market. There aren’t artisans or food trucks at our market.
Farmers Market Coalition: Describe your market.
TH: The market is outdoors, and operates rain or shine. The market is operated only in Merchants Square on Saturday mornings from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm. This year, the market will be open on 43 Saturdays, from March – November and then a few Holiday markets.
Merchants Square is located in between the College of William and Mary and Colonial Williamsburg. There are plenty of benches, and you can always pose for a photo with a statue of Thomas Jefferson. Live music and chef demonstrations make for a fun morning out!
FMC: How do you generate neighborhood excitement for the new market?
TH: The market has music every week. We not only accept SNAP, but match it dollar for dollar. From May through October, the hottest chefs in Williamsburg come and demonstrate their skills at the Chefs Tent. From Memorial Day until Labor Day, children 5 – 12 years old participate in the POP Club, and get money to spend at the market.
This year, as part of our 15th anniversary celebration, we will be hosting forums related to husbanding the land, savoring regional foodways, and the challenges of biodiversity and feeding people.
FMC: How do you promote your market?
TH: The market is on social media, (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) and we have a weekly newsletter that goes out 3,500 people and a website we update frequently. We also have over 40 local event calendars we list our market on.
Whatever communication strategy you choose, stick with it! Consistency is very important!
FMC: What are some of your markets’ challenges and successes?
TH: Through the years, we’ve gone through quite a lot of growth. The struggle is in keeping true to our mission, and ensuring our mission is still relevant. In 2013, we revisited our logo. In 2014, we made minor revisions to our mission and objectives. In 2015, we revamped our website.
As more markets pop up, and there are more avenues for people to access fresh food, it’ll be crucial for the Williamsburg Farmers Market, and markets like ours to make sure we are providing our community something more and better than what they can get elsewhere.