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Start a Farmers Market


Starting a Farmers MarketUniversity of Missouri Extension offers an online resource guide for starting a new farmers' market or improving an existing market. The guide is focused on farmers' market organizers in Missouri, but also provides useful information for market developers in any state, province or country.

Starting and Operating a Farmers' Market

Most farmers' markets start as an idea. A group of local growers, a neighborhood association, the local chamber of commerce, or in some cases a single individual, realizes the benefits of starting a farmers' market in their community. From this initial idea connections are made, meetings are held, and the farmers' market begins to materialize.

During the early stages of the market's creation, when initial conversations and meetings are taking place, try to answer the following questions to help the market get off to a good start:
  • Is starting a new farmers' market feasible?
Determining the feasibility of a new farmers' market is crucial. Try to thoroughly evaluate the interest among local growers, consumers, local businesses, government agencies and organizations before proceeding to the next step. Evaluate local retail competition and community demographics. To gain input from a wider audience and uncover unforeseen objections or support, place ads in local newspapers or hold public meetings. If time and funding permit, a formal feasibility study can be conducted. Starting a new market is generally justified if you have firm commitments from six growers and you expect to attract at least 100 customers on each market day.
  • Who will sponsor the market?
In some cases, growers take a lead role in creating and running a market. In other cases, local governments, nonprofit organizations, chambers of commerce or a new entity is formed to organize a new market. Regardless of who starts and operates the market, it is important to involve a wide range of individuals, organizations and businesses to make use of existing talents and resources in the community, resolve disputes and share the workload.

  • What is the purpose of the market?
Clearly defining the market's purpose or mission is perhaps the most important task for market organizers. Typically, farmers' markets are created with the primary purpose of serving local growers and consumers, although it is widely recognized that farmers' markets also help improve and revitalize downtowns and neighborhoods, provide a safe place for people to gather and socialize, and improve access to fresh food, among other things. However, a farmers' market will not succeed unless growers are able to make a profit, despite the good intentions of market organizers to promote other goals.
from University of Missouri Extension

Maintaining a Successful Farmers Market

Staffing, marketing and location are three main factors that play an important role in the success of any farmers' market.




Since most farmers markets are staffed by volunteers,  it is important to find volunteers who are committed to the market.

Select a location that is visible and convenient for shoppers, ideally a high-traffic area, with adequate space and handicapped accessible. Work with city, county and township officials, and local businesses.

Some locations may charge rent, while other can be utilized free of charge. Some communities will allow a street to be closed on certain days and certain times to accommodate the farmers market. Some businesses will also host farmers markets within their location.

Sell your market. Developing a mission and vision statement that outlines the market’s purpose and the types of products it allows is important for attracting consumers as well as vendors.

While developing your market plan, don't forget that developing a relationship with your customers is important. Shoppers are not only looking for fresh, local foods, they also want to know the person behind the produce.

Invest in attractive displays, such as brochures, signs, and fact sheets to attract customers. Offer recipes or nutritional information on the products being sold..

Be mindful of your city’s laws and regulations. Invest in product and liability insurance and follow the rules and regulations set forth by your local health department and Department of Agriculture. 

Source:
Ohio State University South Center's Business Development Network

Rules and By-Laws

Developing a market's rules and by-laws are very important in structuring and organizing. By establishing good rules and regulations, you will not only keep vendors happy, but minimize conflicts. Elements include:
  • Hours and Days of Operation
  • Who Can and Cannot Sell at the Market
  • Market Fees
  • Stall Assignments
  • Product
  • Required Vendor Performance
  • Penalties for Noncompliance with Market Rules
  • Market Manager as Final Judge
  • Legal structure
Subsequent steps (from Starting a Seasonal Open-Air Market in Kansas):
  • Form a market organizing committee.
  • Establish a nonprofit organization.
  • Develop business and marketing plans for the market.
  • Develop the rules and regulations for the market
  • Select an appropriate location for the market
  • Promote the market
  • Research local, state and federal regulations.
Additional Resources





Open Air Markets Directory
Open Air Markets Directory

North American Farmers Markets
Books for Farmers' Markets
Books for Farmers' Markets


How to Lease a Booth
How to Lease a Booth

at Farmer's Market Online
Farmers Market Supply
Farmers Market Supply


Greenhouses
Greenhouses





Farmer's Market Online.
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