Benefits of Hosting a Farmers Market in Your Community
Everyone has to eat. Social interaction around food is a universal activity with tremendous power to connect people with each other and with the sources of their sustenance. The cultural tradition of farmers markets is a particularly powerful way for consumers and growers to connect around food. Markets offer a combination of social and economic activity that enhances communities and is unparalleled by almost any other community activity.
Empirical evidence proves that, at a minimum, for every dollar spent at a farmers market another dollar is spent at the businesses adjacent to the market. More often than not a market’s economic multiplier is closer to $3 for every dollar spent at market. A valuable tool to gage the economic multiplier for the market in your community can be found at the Market Umbrella website: Market Umbrella is a non-profit farmers market organization based in New Orleans.
In addition to the “economic stimulus package” that farmers markets provide, markets also stimulate community building. People of diverse backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and economic profiles gather around a common theme and in so doing develop a shared perspective that benefits us all. Through this sharing we build simple sustainable activities that greatly enhance our health, our local environment, our local support networks, and even our local politics. Like families, communities who “eat” together thrive together.
And the “icing on the cake” is that the community doesn’t bear the principal financial burden for this work — vendors in the market do. However, every market that has community support at multiple levels grows faster, becomes more vibrant, and achieves their goals far more effectively than those that do not. A great deal of information about all aspects of farmers markets can be found in an organized fashion in the Resource Library section of the Farmers Market Coalition website: The Farmers Market Coalition is a 501©(3) nonprofit dedicated to strengthening farmers markets across the United States.
Looking to start a market in your community? You are not alone; there are 351 cities and towns, and there are over 250 summer farmers markets in Massachusetts!
In order to start a successful market in your community, your biggest challenge will be to create new farmers market shoppers. Overall, the number of shoppers is not increasing as quickly as the number of farmers markets; if there are not enough shoppers to support the farmers and vendors at each market, the vendors lose income and gain expenses at the same time. As the vendors decide not to return to the market because their sales are too low, then the few shoppers who do go to the market are less interested in the market because as the number of vendors shrinks, so does the enticement to make the extra stop to shop at the market. On top of that, there are so many other markets that there is probably another one not too far away.
If you think you are up for the challenge, and hopefully you have other folks involved too, we have put together a compilation of documents, produced by various farmers markets associations across the country, that provide an A-Z guideline for you. New Market Start Up Program
Resources for Host Communities
We work with a wide variety of other organizations in order to enhance the more than 250 farmers markets in Massachusetts, making them the dynamic community spaces they are. Click here for links to a number of organizations and helpful sites related to local agriculture, health and nutrition, food sustainability, and farmers markets. Visit again soon for links to the websites of our member farmers, and please contact us with any relevant additional links.