The Farm 2 Facts Toolkit gives farmers markets a voice by offering dynamic tools for data collection, analysis, and incorporation. By empowering markets to strive for community development, the Toolkit puts managers in a position to make researched decisions that will affect the surrounding population.
The Farm 2 Facts Toolkit is carried out in three steps: Selecting metrics, collecting data, and incorporating the results. These steps allow markets to collect data that analyze a particular business’ economic, social, and ecological impacts. With over 25 metrics and 100 sub-metrics, the Toolkit can offer markets tailored research that will improve a variety of operations.
The F2F Toolkit For Community Engagement will provide instructions that will benefit market managers across the country. Our project focuses on activities that market managers can implement, how these activities will foster relationships within the community, how these activities will be implemented, and how they can be evaluated. We have come up with a list of activities that market managers can implement to increase economic, social, and ecological well being. Some of these suggested activities are detailed below.
Suggested Activities that will Inspire Community Development
Forming partnerships with community organizations is very important to a market’s success. Partnerships with local nonprofit organizations and small businesses from the surrounding area is an excellent way to get the word out about the market and develop a positive connotation for the market in the eyes of community members. One example of a symbiotic partnership a farmers market can form is with an organization focused on boosting public health in the market’s city or state. This goal is almost always aligned with the mission of a farmers market, and the cross promotion of the organization and the farmers market benefits both parties.
Social media is a necessity for any marketplace that is looking to grow its revenue and customer base. For Farmers Markets, the best social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. These sites allow for users to like, comment, and share posts which gives Farmers Markets the opportunity to spread awareness for their products and services. When managing a social media account, it is important to stay up to date and to constantly seek out the target audience (the community where the Farmers Market is located). An account that contains photos of people enjoying themselves and sharing good memories will convince other users to visit the market.
Customer traffic is essential to the success of farmers markets. Robust sales result in high returns for vendors, who will be more likely to return to the market in the future. Successful marketplaces implement many strategies to attract and retain a customer base, and loyalty programs give market-goers a reason to visit week after week. Customer loyalty tools are valuable methods of encouraging existing customers to shop at farmers markets more often.
Finally, giving local artists the opportunity to perform and get exposure to members of their own community is a great way to integrate a market into a community and gain favor among community members. Having a stage or performance area will invite many members of the community to spend leisure time at the market, further acquainting the market to the local population. While a stage and audience area may not be plausible for every market, for those that it is within reach for it is an excellent addition to the market and can and should operate after vendors close down their setups for the day.
What Makes Farmer Markets So Important?
Farmers markets give cities and states access to food systems and nutritious diets; this is what makes the F2F research so vital to areas that lack access to healthy foods, and for markets looking to improve themselves. Markets in the United States and across the world have a history of inspiring inclusivity within surrounding communities. Immigrants, women and minorities all see the benefits of markets through entrepreneurship, food access and security. Markets also provide a source of knowledge and comfort; entertainment, employment, and education have the ability to benefit communities in various ways.
Markets give way to cultural hubs- organizations that inspire community development and unity. A successful cultural hub not only provides economic opportunity, but it also offers diverse art, politics, language, customs and traditions. It is essential that markets focus on creating a sharp brand and positioning that clarifies what the space stands for. This will ensure that businesses find the right customer base and partners. Equally important is for farmers markets to earn local support. A cultural venue will only succeed if it is tied into its community, city, and environment. After all, the community (consisting of tenants, users and visitors) is what gives the market its true strength. Lastly, a successful market needs to serve a real need. While this may seem obvious, farmers markets must respond to the needs of one or more groups. Identifying a specific need requires research that includes visiting and observing the neighborhood or city and asking customers about what can be improved. Incorporating the F2F Toolkit into market strategy can assist with this marketing strategy.