Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Location, Location, Location

Location is one essential part of creating a well established farmers’ market that is sometimes overlooked. Location will either make the market accessible to consumers or it will make them not return to the market.

(Photo: Osage Beach Farmers' Market Vendors)

Consider this:

  • Locate the market where it is convenient and close to buyers
  • Locate it where sellers can reach it easily
  • Make sure the entrance and exit are not traffic hazards
  • Provide enough space for parking and traffic flow
  • Choose a well-drained, relatively level site
  • Provide plenty of close-in parking
  • Provide well-defined parking spots
  • Provide shelter from rain and sun
  • Provide a telephone (possibly a pay phone)
  • Provide restrooms (for sellers and buyers)
  • Provide good lighting if open early mornings, late evenings, or around the clock
  • If possible, provide an on-site office

In selecting a location, it is more important to be near the majority of customers than to be close to producers. Closeness should be measured in terms of convenience as well as distance. Studies show that most customers will come from within a 15-mile radius of the market. The typical customer will not drive a long distance to reach the market, while sellers will travel much farther.

Farmers’ markets are characterized by considerable foot and vehicular traffic. Paved or well-graveled drives and walkways are required for continuous operation over five or six months. Sites which expose patrons to heavy commercial or industrial activities should be avoided. It is beneficial to have a site with well-drained, fast drying soil.

Some customers of farmers’ markets associate the market with rural openness. If so, then the market would benefit from a relatively large site where only farm-type produce is seen, that is as free as possible from encroachment by other activities. This large site would be especially beneficial for parking and roadways.

Sites such as church or shopping center parking lots are suitable temporary location options. However, the usual lack of shade and the high temperatures radiating from paved or asphalt lots will cause produce quality to deteriorate rapidly; customer and seller discomfort may also be experienced.

Before committing the farmers’ market organization to a site, regulatory agencies involved in controlling land use and access need to be involved. Such agencies as zoning and land use planning boards, the highway department, the building inspection office, the fire marshall’s office, and the police and utility departments may shed light on the suitability of a site.

No comments: