Friday, June 20, 2008

Farmers' Market Fun

Fair Grove Farmers' MarketOn Wednesday, Lane and I had the privilege to visit southern Missouri to speak with enthusiasts who are just beginning a farmers' market in Battlefield and then travel on to see the successes of the Fair Grove Farmers' Market.

In Battlefield, we were very impressed with how much advanced preparation the community members had already done for their new farmers' market. We visited with five advocates of the farmers' market including the mayor and a possible future farmers' market manager.

Lane discussed several different marketing strategies for the new market including the use of banners and labeling. Vendor recruitment was also discussed, as well as market feasibility.

After discussing possible location advantages and disadvantages within a residential area and then straightening out a few other minor details for the Battlefield Farmers' Market, the future of the new market seemed bright. I think I was just as if not more excited about establishing the farmers' market than they were!

Lane and I then traveled across Springfield to the Fair Grove Farmer's Market. In Fair Grove, we saw a wide variety of vendors--everything from hydroponic tomatoes to a live bee demonstration to freshly baked strawberry angel food cake. As Lane and I visited with the market managers, Jim Gulick and Deb VanBenthusen, we realized how much they truly cared about their market.

Jim and Deb wanted to encourage young people to come to the farmers' market, and so they had developed a very unique free children's program called "Growing with Kids." Each child is given a membership card, and they are given different seeds for plants for their own garden each week ranging from tomato plants to gourds. The membership also lets them participate in different events sponsored by the market including a recent coloring contest.

The Fair Grove Farmers' Market has also been successful in the use of their EBT/Debit machine which they received thanks to help from the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The market is also trying a new strategy--gift certificates to the market. In light of Father's Day, the market decided to sell certificates, and I think they will be a great addition to their marketing strategies.

While we were visiting the Fair Grove Farmer's Market, Deb and Jim were kind enough to purchase our dinner at their food stand. Gary from Hilltop Pizza, a local pizza parlor, runs the stand with as many foods purchased from the farmers' market vendors as possible and is a huge supporter of the Fair Grove Farmers' Market.

My first farmer's market visit of my internship as well as my first experience in working with the organization of a farmers' market were really great learning experiences. The longer I immerse myself in farmers' markets, the more impressed I am with the potential of these great establishments.

View pictures from visiting Battlefield and Fair Grove here.

1 comment:

Jennifer Keys said...

It's great to see our local Fair Grove market featured! Thanks for all the great tips your blogging has provided.