Develop a Following
Make the market a social place, not just a shopping place. Here are some ideas for you to gain followers by providing entertainment and embracing the larger local community.
Make the market fun by providing live music . Invite local high school musicians or other community music groups to play.
Cultivate Community Relationships
Create a list of local groups who have similar values to your market. Invite them to be a part of the market so they can introduce their organization to the community. Local sports groups, religious organizations, knitting groups, bike clubs, etc. Ideally, these visitors will also become long-term customers and shop the market, providing income for your vendors. You can also invite local partners to host a special events. For example, the county health department may want to host an educational event at the market.
Maintain a consistent market schedule. The weather actually does not matter as much as you may think.. Research I’ve written for the upcoming Winter 2019 Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development illustrates how weather matters relatively little to sales. and encourage them to work with you to test this idea.
Regular shoppers are committed to your market and vendors depend on you for income. Don’t let a week go by without the market.
Be Welcoming to Small Farms and New Farmers
Make sure your market is open to different kinds of vendors, small farmers starting out, high school 4H or Future Farmers of America (FFA) kids aiming for awards or a few bucks in their pocket. They will learn from your regular vendors and the camaraderie will enhance the spirit of your market. Remember that everyone start somewhere.
Apply for Grants
Many local governments and communities offer grants to help farmers markets. Eventually, you may even be able to apply to federal grants through the USDA. Here are some links to help you find a grant for your market. Here are some links to help you find a grant for your market..
Bonus Practice: Remember that your community needs you
You’re providing a public service and making your place great. Maintain those relationships and keep working – you, your market, and your community are worth it.
How the F2F Community Can Help Your Market
If you are struggling to find a way prove your market’s impact to your community, Farm 2 Facts is a tested, science-backed toolkit for gathering data and developing easy to understand infographics and data points. F2F tools were developed in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the USDA in order to provide markets an easy system to test the impact on their community and local economy. Still not sure if this is right for you? Request a free demo today to see the impact you can make to your community.