We tend to do a number of posts reminding people to register for conference because the half-life of a post on social media is incredibly fast these days – and with the busy nature of this time of year, market managers can often see a post and then forget to take action. But don’t relegate this to the back of your to-do list for too long! There are so many important benefits that attending a FMFNY conference can bring. Here are a few of the many reasons to attend:
1. For the interaction. The conference is your opportunity to interact with other market managers from around the state. These opportunities don’t come up very often! This is perhaps the most important benefit of attending conference because we all have different ideas. There could be something you’re struggling with but another manager has a perfect solution for (or vice-versa). You might even network with other managers in your area and create a joint program or service to add value to your market(s).
2. The information learned at the sessions is invaluable. We will be learning from experts on topics such as: Market Manager Compensation, Succession Planning, Managing Vendor Diversity, Food Preparation at Markets, SNAP Best Practices and more. There might be a critical component to managing a market that you aren’t aware of or programs that your market could benefit from that you aren’t familiar with. Attending the workshops and sessions is a wonderful way to be exposed to the most critical topics and concepts relevant to farmers markets in New York State. We have been running these conferences for over 10 years so we know what works and what doesn’t!
3. The chance to get away! This year’s location at the Holiday Valley Resort is breathtaking. Check out their Photo Gallery. Amenities include free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, a heated pool, and fitness center, and an on-site restaurant and bar. Who doesn’t need a few days away from home and a change of scenery every once in a while? You’ll come back refreshed, energized and ready to take on the challenges of running next year’s market with full steam ahead.
4. The food. You may not be aware of this, but we generally source the food for the included meals locally and make a point to support the local farms in the area. For those dinners on your own (or with new friends and colleagues) there are a bunch of good restaurant options in the area too.
5. The fellowship. What goes better with great food than great company? Come alone and make a new friend or two. Stay in touch and follow each other’s progress and you build your markets and grow as professional market managers too.
6. The tours. Tours are always a popular part of our conferences and we’ve got lots of them this year – farms, a food hub, and a local brew pub! Tour locations include The Eden Valley Co-op/WNY Food Hub, Ellicottville Brewing Company, Blue Hill Farm, White Cow Dairy, and Canticle Farms. Each location was chosen to showcase the Southern Tier West agriculture and food landscape and the tours will give market managers a guided look into farm production and marketing. At Blue Hill Farm and White Cow Dairy, we will even get to sample several of the small-batch, handmade products such as custards, yogurts, and tonics, syrups, tinctures, and bitters made with the farmstead’s milk!
7. It could be free. This year for the first time we have a scholarship option. Please apply if you are a new market manager, someone who has not been to a FMFNY conference in the past, or if you could not otherwise afford to go without the help of the scholarship. Scholarships are taken from membership dues and will cover your conference fee and lunches if your application is approved (but you will still be responsible for your own hotel room). Click here to download the application and instructions.
8. To support FMFNY. Our membership numbers and attendance at conference give us proof when it comes time to write grant applications of the number of markets we represent. Your membership and participation is appreciated because it allows us to keep doing the work that we do in serving markets, farmers and consumers throughout the state.
9. To see our smiling faces. You may speak with us over the phone at the Federation office throughout the year as we offer you programs and services to help you meet your market goals. For most of you, the annual conference is the one chance you have each year to interact with us face-to-face. We’d love to see you there!
10. Lastly, If you don’t go, you won’t know what you’re missing!