Tag Archives: Call to Action

Can We Reverse the 2016 Trend of Decreased Consumer Activity at Farmers Markets?

The summer of 2016 was marked with moderate to severe drought across New York State. Farmers struggled to have salable crops to bring to the farmers market. With the devastation that drought brings to farmers, they also reported decreased customer counts and sales while participating at markets. With few exceptions, market managers and farmers all reported a decrease in customer counts. Some farmers reported sales down anywhere from 20% to 70%. Many speculations were made on what caused the downturn: media hype regarding the impact of the drought on local farmers, over-proliferation of farmers markets in many areas of the state cannibalizing each other’s customer base; increasing options for consumers to purchase local reducing their dependence on farmers markets to access local food, customer response to the “inconvenience” of farmers markets, or any other, as yet, unknown causes.

The Federation, in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension, is purposing a project to provide markets with the tools they need to build a solid business foundation for the market, learn what customers think about farmers markets and provide a toolkit of information to assist farmers markets in maintaining and growing their customer base and restoring and increasing farmers sales at the markets where they are participating.

To help craft the project to reflect the needs of markets and their participating farmers, we need your help. We have created an online survey for your input. The responses will help us draft a grant proposal to fund the project. Please respond no later than Friday, February 17.

Farmers, please use the link here to reach a survey designed specifically for farmers market farmers and vendors.                https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NRWMCYS

Market Managers, organizers and those involved in managing markets, please use the link here to reach a survey designed specifically to learn your needs and interests.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NFVQYYD

FIRST NEW YORK STATE CERTIFIED FARMERS’ MARKET MANAGER

Graduates New Online Course That Helps Grow New York’s Farmers’ Markets

Nearly Four Dozen Market Managers Are Enrolled in the Course and Working Toward Certification

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and The Farmers’ Market Federation of NY, in partnership with SUNY Cobleskill and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, developed the first ever Farmers’ Market Managers Professional Certification Course in NY State: FMM PRO.  Since the program was launched in March 2016, 44 market managers have enrolled in the course and are working their way toward certification. Today, the Department and Federation are celebrating the first graduate of the program, Reed Proper, who is excited to lead the Old Forge Farmers Market in the new year.

The Director of the Farmers Market Federation, Diane Eggert, said, “We’re very excited to see market managers take advantage of the FMM Pro and the chance to professionalize the role of market managers, forging new partnerships, building customer relationships and providing greater opportunities for our state’s farmers. Congratulations to Reed Proper from the Old Forge Farmers Market on his achievement as the first Certified Farmers Market Manager in New York State.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Our farmers’ markets are not only a wonderful source of fresh produce and local agricultural goods but also education for consumers—a place for them to connect with the farmers who are supplying their food.  By providing this valuable training to market managers, we’re helping to provide the tools they need to successfully operate and grow their markets.  The Department congratulates the program’s first graduate, Reed, and encourages other market managers to pursue their certification.”

SUNY Cobleskill Associate Professor, Agricultural Business Management Jason R. Evans, Ph.D. said,The FMM Pro certificate program provides a tremendously valuable service to professionals in New York’s direct-to-consumer food sector.  Market managers can utilize the principles and best practices gleaned from this program to run better markets, which means more efficient and less costly marketing efforts for producers and better experiences for consumers that translate to strong demand.”

The goal of FMM Pro is to grow and professionalize New York’s farmers’ markets by providing expert training to those who run markets, making them certified market managers. New York State is now home to some 646 farmers’ markets, up nearly 35 percent from just five years ago.

Reed Proper, Old Forge Farmers Market Manager and the first graduate of the program, said, “I liked being able to complete the program at my own pace and at times that was convenient and also not having to leave home. And at 80 years old, it made me feel young at heart! With the knowledge gained from the farmers market managers certification program, I can create a more efficient market, have a greater nutritional assistance program for the local needy and have a better chance of qualifying for grants.”

The program, funded by Governor Cuomo’s FreshConnect Program, created New York State’s first ever market manager certification designation, which is formally recognized through the SUNY educational system and gives participants a credential they can use to garner support and enthusiasm for their markets.  FMM PRO is a part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to open new markets and increase opportunities for New York State agriculture producers.

FMM PRO’s curriculum includes 22 unique training modules on the topics of Nuts and Bolts of Managing Markets, Reaching Out to the Market Community, and Building Systems. Each module consists of a video-based lesson, additional resources, a homework assignment, and an online quiz. The lessons are hosted on Cornell University’s online learning platform, which allows students to move through the lessons at their own pace, and receive feedback from instructors as they complete each unit.

Program participants who complete the full curriculum will graduate and receive a certificate, earning the title of Certified Market Manager. Completing the course will help market managers better organize, administer, and promote their markets. More specifically, as an FMM PRO Certified Market Manager, graduates of the program will:

  • Be fully knowledgeable in today’s best practices for managing farmers’ markets
  • Learn tactics to expand and optimize their farmers’ market
  • Be equipped to build successful relationships with farmers and shoppers
  • Be able to use their certification to leverage funding and support for their market

To learn more and to register for FMM Pro: Farmers’ Market Managers Certification Program and become one of the first NYS Certified Farmers Market Managers:

Check out the Curriculum, or

Sign up for FMM PRO

For more information on FMM Pro, visit http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/fmmpro or contact [email protected] or [email protected].

As soon as your payment is verified, you will receive a link and password to begin the course.

You can also view or share a copy of this press release.

Don’t Miss the Tuesday Deadline!

I hope everyone is having a productive Monday and a Happy Halloween! I know this time of year is busy for many of you as you tie up loose ends and prepare to close down your summer markets, but please remember that tomorrow is the deadline to reserve your hotel room and receive the conference discount. After that, normal room rates will apply  and because this conference is in such a beautiful location (see the image above), the normal rates are significantly higher. Please remember that even if you got a scholarship, you still need to book your room!

For those of you who have not yet registered for conference, you’ll want to do so ASAP but whatever you do, make sure to reserve your room by tomorrow! We will still accept conference registrations for a while longer, but fees are nonrefundable after the 4th. If you missed our recent articles that go into detail about what you’ll get from each day of conference, here they are again.

Monday Night

For those of you who plan to arrive Monday night to get settled in, please join us for a Pre-Conference Reception:

Join the Farmers Market Federation of NY on Monday, November 14 as we host a pre-conference reception in the lobby of the Holiday Valley Inn. The reception will be our launch into 3 days of workshops, tours and networking opportunities. Hors d’ Oeuvres and a cash bar will be open from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm to welcome everyone to the Annual Farmers Market Managers Conference.

Tuesday

Tuesday we will kick off the conference with speakers, tours, and our annual banquet in the evening. Read all about it here: http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/session-spotlight-tuesday/. If you have already bought your tickets for conference but did not purchase banquet tickets, make sure to return to the payment page and purchase banquet tickets – you do not want to miss this! Tuesday at 6:00 pm we will enjoy a local foods dinner with featured speaker Tom Rivers, author of “Farm Hands: Hard Work and Hard Lessons from Western New York Fields.”

Wednesday

On day two of conference, Wednesday, we will have a number of informational sessions as well as a second set of tours. Read the breakdown here: http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/wednesday-session-spotlight/

Thurday

Stay tuned later this week for a full walkthrough of the benefits of attending Thursday’s sessions. You can read all of our recent articles here or check out our popular article, 10 Reasons Not to Miss Conference

Join more than 60 managers from around the state who have already registered for conference for three days of networking, learning, local food and fun, and building our markets!

Reserve your space today at:

http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/conference-registration

Farmers Market Events: Music at the Market

Webermusic

Does your market hold market events to draw additional customers to the market and keep your existing customers entertained and coming back for more?

It’s that time of year where the weather is beautiful and produce is bountiful so take advantage and schedule some fun events at your market! Here is a great example of a market event to be held at the West Bloomfield Farmers Market. From their newsletter:

“The next two Fridays in August (8/19 & 8/26) WEBERMUSIC will be bringing their shakers and claves, tambourines & bells, and all sorts of other hand percussion instruments for budding young (and old!) percussionists to play along with us as we sing and play for a few hours.

We have plenty of parking, lots of shade and there is always a breeze so bring your friends & family, lawn chairs, and some eco-friendly bags if ya got ’em to take all your fresh fruits & veggies home, and come see what all the buzz is about.” They’ve also included a link to the event on Facebook where they’ve invited everyone so folks can RSVP and share the event with their friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/1283614505005446/.

Including the photo of the musicians really helps bring the event to life and helps customers picture themselves there, having fun listening to the music. The musicians are even bringing extra instruments so people can get really involved and play along. New customers will remember how much fun they had and return to the market even on days where there are no events, to buy more of the fresh, local produce.

So if you’re in that neck of the woods, head on down to this Friday and next Friday to join in on the fun. If you’re not local to West Bloomfield, use this event as an example for your market. Maybe your calendar of events is looking pretty sparse this year – time to spruce it up! Maybe you’ve scheduled lots of events but you’re forgetting to spread the word through newsletters, Facebook events, social media posts, and flyers posted at other local venues. Many of these promotion methods are cheap or free and events do not need to eat up a huge chunk of your budget so get creative with your market events.

Other options besides music can include children’s activities and crafts, festivals and art shows, cooking demonstrations and prepared foods sales, wine/beer/cheese/veggie/fruit tastings and samplings, baking/cooking competitions, fundraisers for a local charity, book signings, ethnic dancers or other performing artists, pet events etc.

Here’s are some additional resources to give you more ideas:

You are only limited by your imagination! And remember, just because you’re not having a special event that week doesn’t mean you can’t make the market into an event and publicize it through your newsletter and social media channels as well. A regular market is an event in its own right! Just list what some of the vendors will be selling and any special information relevant to that week’s market.

Thanks to the West Bloomfield Market and WEBERMUSIC for allowing us to share their event and photo. If your market is having a special event that you think would be a great example, please send a photo and description to [email protected] and your event might be featured on our blog as well! Happy planning!! 🙂

 

Save the Date for Conference!

holiday valley resort

The 2016 NYS Farmers Market Managers Conference, “Building Capacity of Farmers Market” will be held November 15 – 17 at the Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, NY. The conference is sponsored by the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Agency and the Southern Tier West Farmers Market Network.

This year’s conference is designed to reach smaller markets and inexperienced market managers to help build their management skills and raise the level of success for small markets. Other sessions will focus on the issues facing larger, more experienced markets and managers. The 2016 conference is for everyone!

Of the many issues we will be looking at, managing the vendor diversity in markets is a key discussion happening across the state and being covered at the conference. Another session will focus on best practices for building a successful SNAP program at farmers markets. A panel of speakers will share their experiences and success stories.

Along with 3 days of workshops, the conference will feature an industry tour each day of the conference. Come along to visit the WNY Food Hub and learn the role that food hubs play in a local food economy. Enjoy a tour of Ellicottville Brewing Company and sample their local beers. Our final tour will be Canticle Farm. This is a teaching farm, helping to build the next generation of farmers. Along with teaching production skills, the farm also sponsors a farm stand, CSA and farmers market, providing marketing education as well.

Another feature of the 2016 Annual Farmers Market Managers Conference is a new scholarship program. If you need financial assistance to attend the conference, complete the Scholarship Application and submit to the Federation office no later than September 26, 2016.

Mark your calendars for November 15 – 17, 2016 and join us as we convene in Ellicottville, NY for the 2016 NYS Farmers Market Managers Conference. All information about the conference can be found here: http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/annual-conference/ or take a peek at the Conference Agenda, Conference Registration, or Hotel Information.

Last Chance!

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We are now in the final 6 months of our Cultivating Success: Farm and Market Websites Project funded through USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grants. We’ve successfully created a lot of new websites for markets and farms but we need your help to complete the project!

We are still accepting submissions from people who would like a website created for their farm or farmers market – but only until August 15th!

This is an amazing opportunity as participants will have their websites created for them for free and also have their first year’s hosting and domain fees paid for by the Federation. In order to participate, you will need to gather all the information needed to create your website together and submit a Farm Website Design Request or Market Website Design Request depending on whether you are a farm or farmers market.

Please do not submit incomplete forms as this can delay the process. Spaces are limited and the sites will be created on a first come first served basis so please complete the form as soon as possible. Please also forward this email on to anyone who you think might be interested in this program so we make sure to meet our goal to create 100 sites. Remember, the websites come with training videos and a guidebook on how to maintain and update your site so ANYONE can participate in this program, even if you have limited tech skills or previously thought it would be too hard to understand WordPress.

Contact [email protected] with any questions about submitting the form or enrolling in the program.
EXAMPLES OF COMPLETED SITES:
www.cobblestonecreekfarm.com

www.berkshirehillshoneybeefarm.com

www.hudsonvalleygardengarlic.com

www.lakesidefarmmarket.com

www.freeportfarmersmarket.org

www.hawkdancefarm.com

www.mvfmma.com

www.shannonbrookfarm.com

www.ironroosterfarm.com

SOME OF THE FEEDBACK WE’VE RECEIVED ABOUT THE PROGRAM:

“Thank you so much!  NEVER thought I would say I am actually having fun doing this – working with websites has always been such a struggle before.”~ Market Website Participant
“Loving the website your group designed. Wow! Slick, professional.”~ Farm Website Participant
“I want you to know I really feel like I have the tools to make this website work and update it on a regular basis.  I am going to start small and work on it and may send you e-mails from time to time but this has been a FABULOUS project.  Thank you again.”     ~ Farm Website Participant

 

 

We’re Starting a Blog!

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to-do-list-749304_1280Our website has been an incredible resource for NYS markets and farmers for a number of years, but up until now we’ve always done our newsletter in a paper format.  Diane even remembers the days when (back before everyone had email), she had to print and fold the newsletter in paper format and send copies to everyone in the mail.

But times are changing and so are we!  We are excited to announce that for the 2016 membership year, the Federation is replacing the old quarterly paper/pdf format of our newsletter with our new blog and we’ll now be keeping you up-to-date on all things Federation and farmers markets right here on the website.

What this means for you:

You’ll now have a handy place to come to and see what the latest is, both here in the Federation office and around the state.  Just bookmark this link and check it often http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/theblog or if you prefer, subscribe to our email list if you haven’t already and you can read the latest there.  You might even get the opportunity to shine the spotlight on your market or farm or something interesting happening in your corner of NYS.

What this means for us:

We’ll be able to keep you updated more frequently by adding each article or bit of news as soon as it is relevant and keep the information timely. No more folding paper newsletters or formatting PDFs!

We’re also putting out a Call to Action for Market Managers and other agricultural stakeholders around the state.  We’d like to invite you to participate and make use of this space and take advantage of the great traffic we get on our site:

Got an idea for an article?  Shoot it our way. Or perhaps you already have some existing content you think we could repurpose or share.  Maybe you know about something our readers would be interested in finding out about.

Got photos of your market or farm you’d like featured on our site?  Great – we may be able to use them in an upcoming article.

Please don’t forget to add this to your “to-do” list.  Send all submissions to [email protected].  We will feature as many as we can in an upcoming blog article and/or email blast.  We look forward to seeing YOU featured and to continuing to provide you with the most relevant up-to-date information on New York State’s amazing farmers markets.