Farm 2 Facts: Now & Then

Managing a market means balancing a lot of different responsibilities, from finding vendors to working with the city. So, it’s not just during market season that managers are busy as can be- it’s 24/7, 365 days a year.

What’s the problem?
Market managers, vendors, and their stakeholders play important roles in communities around the country. Markets anchor small farmers, support local business, and they provide opportunities for entertainment and food access, as well as a gathering place for the local community. With all of these functions in play, it is no wonder that managers are frequently asking for support in understanding their market’s activities and making decisions about their market and its relationship to the community.

Managers are frequently asked the same questions: “How do you organize your market? What vendors should we include? What rules should we have? How do we know if we are successful?” and maybe most important, “how do I maintain strong relationships in my community and with my vendors?” These are the types of questions we have heard from farmers market managers for decades.

Our Solution:
In order to help market managers answer these frequently asked questions, in 2014, the University of Wisconsin – Madison Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture founded the Kaufman Lab for the Study and Design of Food Systems and Marketplaces and created the Farm 2 Facts toolkit. F2F is a tool used by market managers, market organizations, and other organizations such as city governments, who support farmers markets in communities throughout the US and Canada in the collection of data for citizen driven decision-making. Farmers market managers implement the tools provided by F2F to collect information at their markets, and are then supported by the F2F team of professionals and students at the University of Wisconsin – Madison who help make sense of the data.

When a market manager or organization has an interest in data collection, analysis, reporting, and decision-making, or when they have an interest in developing their market or market organization profile, they come to us for the F2F tool and/or our consulting services. We put sophisticated tools in the hands of those managers to support them in achieving their various goals and honing their various practices.

As a non-profit and a part of the Wisconsin Idea, F2F tools and consulting services are billed to members on a cost recovery basis. Initially, F2F was oriented to data collection, analyses, and reporting. The only consulting service available was for custom economic analyses.

Today, the toolkit features have expanded to include:

  • Scientifically legitimate and reliable data collection processes for both paper-based and web-based data collection
  • Interpretive statements for each metric
  • The ability to compare metrics within and between markets overtime
  • Tableau style graphics
  • Customizable infographics
  • Grant writing/advising
  • Report writing
  • Marketing support for markets and market organizations

The evolution of our services was a direct response from the research team to market manager’s needs. F2F is now a one stop shop for market managers, supporting the success of farmers markets on every level.