Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Market Feasibility

Beginning a new farmers’ market isn’t an easy task. Who will the vendors be? Where is the right location? Will a market in this community be economically feasible? When should we open the market? How do we advertise the market? What community leaders need to be involved? Who will manage the market?

These are just a few of the questions that arise when a community decides to start a farmers’ market in their town/city.

There are a few topics that need to be considered when establishing a farmers’ market such as market feasibility, sponsorship of a farmers’ market, creating a favorable environment, location and site considerations and marketing opportunities. The planning stages are critical to the success of the market.

We’ll discuss these stages in the upcoming posts, starting with the first step in planning, market feasibility, which includes consumers and producers.

There are areas of consumer preference that every farmers’ market should consider: convenient locations, adequate quantities, fair prices and good quality produce. But, the most important part of starting a market is insuring the market will have the adequate number of producers selling at the market. For a market to supply a community with enough items over the production season a market needs to have at least 5 to 10 vendors selling a wide variety of items.

A good rule of thumb is: A half-dozen consistent, quality conscious sellers and 100 regular shoppers justify a farmers’ market.

Other factors to evaluate when considering market feasibility include:
  • Percentage of population in and around community with gardens

  • Quality and prices at the local retail food stores

  • Existence of other nearby farmers’ markets

  • Existence of nearby roadside stands and u-pick farms

  • Existence of wholesale merchants who sell to consumers

  • Tastes and preferences of consumers

  • Socio-economic mix of consumers

  • Production and marketing experience of potential growers

  • Consumer confidence in producers for providing safe, quality products

  • Attitude toward the market by government officials, human resource agency officials, commercial business people and the agricultural community

  • Expectations of the community (and are they attainable?)

  • Cooperativeness of producers with each other

  • Interest and support of various segments of the professional agricultural community, such as Extension agents and specialists, managers, county agriculture committees, State Department of Agriculture and educational institutions.

The next post will cover the planning stages of sponsoring a community farmers’ market.

No comments: