Farmer's Market Update

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Jena, Dec 1, 2004.

  1. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I had met some folks at a seminar who told me to call a certain person for help in starting this farmer's market in Terre Haute. I have not had time to call, but now that the turkeys are all safely dead in the freezer, I do.

    I called him today and all he did was try to talk me out of the idea. He told me how Terre Haute doesn't need a market because the needs are met by the existing produce stores. He told me the city would not help because they.....well...I can't really remember why he said they wouldn't, just that they wouldn't. I can't imagine that protecting the few businesses involved in this would be the issue.

    He told me to go "upscale". He told me to forget the market and just get my stuff in the upscale stores. Typical extension bs....ooops...didn't mean to give away who I talked too.

    I hung up just about ready to abandon the whole thing. Then I started thinking again...

    I still think it can fly. Heck, Bloomington has a farmer's market virtually every day of the week! I suppose they all are flying as they are still there.

    I'm done seeking "help" from these jerks. I'm just going to call the mayor tomorrow and see what he has to say. Is there any interest at all from the city???? I don't have much to interest him yet, but if he says flat out "NO" then I won't waste my time.

    I'm also thinking of talking to some folks I know that are artists. I see that some farmer's markets combine with arts organizations to have a market and art fair all at the same time. My thought was it could be a "fARTers Market", but I guess that won't do! hehehehe.

    Anyone know a Hulman?

    Thanks for letting me vent.

    Jena
     
  2. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hey, somebody's got to rain on your parade. April showers bring May flowers.

    Talk to the mayor, but find out if he's a cheerleader or a person who actually gets things done. So glad you are undaunted

    :yeeha:
     

  3. clovis

    clovis Well-Known Member

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    Farmer's market in Terre Haute? What a wonderful idea!!!!

    Our town of 20,000 has one every week, sponsored by the Parks and Rec dept, with huge success! They have bands every Saturday morning, which I don't care for, but seems popular enough with others. I think the bands play for free.

    I suggest you turn a deaf ear to anyone trying to 'nay say' your idea. Don't just let some close minded beaurucrats destroy a wonderful idea that will educate consumers, help people eat better, allow people to buy produce at cheaper prices than Walmart, and will allow many local farmers/gardeners to supplement their incomes. You in short, are empowering people, both the buyers and sellers, as well as strengthening the local economy.

    If you cant get anywhere with the city, try working with a progressive church in your area, just to use their parking lot each Saturday. Invite them to set up their own booth so they can market their church. I would also suggest talking to the Vigo fairgrounds, any art or historic preservation group, etc. What about the University (ISU) or a group at the school? What about the FFA chapters, and host it at the HS?

    My point is to keep trying, and think out of the box if you have to. BTW, you don't have to have anyone's permission to start a farmers market. They are not your mom. You just need to find a location that is convenient to consumers, and maybe a liability insurance policy.

    Let me know if you need more ideas. Henry Ford failed several times before he got it right.
    clove
     
  4. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    I would say go for it!

    Don't write off all extension agents just because the one in your area isn't helpful. In New Hampshire they actively encourage and assist the Farmer's Markets.

    What I would suggest is to contact as many possible vendors as you can find (run an ad in the paper or something if you have to. Maybe the local paper would do a little article for you for free?) and have a meeting with them. Form a committee out of the people who show up for the meeting and have them find a place to have it, and take care of any insurance and permits that may be needed (varies from one community to another). You'll have to collect some money from each vendor for these costs, probably in the neighborhood of $20 each. (Someone may have to front some money to get the thing going if you don't have enough vendors to start with.) The committee will also need to figure out the best hours to have the market and what day of the week (if you are using a church parking lot, Sunday morning probably won't work, unless it's Seventh Day Adventist, and then Saturday morning won't work, LOL!). I know of good markets that are held on weekday afternoons and into the early evening (to catch people on their way home from work), but it seems like most one-day-a-week markets are held on Saturday mornings. Our town has about forty thousand people and a Saturday morning market with twenty or so vendors, and it appears to be quite popular.

    Craftspeople generally don't do well at Farmer's markets, though, unless in certain areas where that will fly -- there is a market in Portsmouth, NH that has a lot of craftspeople and I've heard they do well. You would certainly want the bulk of your vendors selling actual farm products. A rule at most of the NH Farmer's Markets is that everything sold has to actually come from the vendor's own farm. So they can't have vendors buying corn or honey, etc., from out of state and reselling it, like the big Farmer's Market in Boston. Personally, I think that is a good rule, both for the customers and for the farmers. The customer has the assurance that what they are buying really is locally grown, and the farmer gets to meet the customers face-to-face and get to know them, what they want to buy and how they want it presented.

    I could go on and give you some tips, but there are several good books out there. I hope you are able to get one going. I think locally grown food is really important. Oh, and one more thing -- if you do get one started this coming year, and it seems slow and discouraging, don't give up. It will most likely take two or three years to get enough good vendors interested, and to get a customer base built up. Once you do start getting customers, though, they will advertise for you by word of mouth and it should take off from there.

    Kathleen
     
  5. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    For what it's worth, I remember when the Farmer's market started here in an area of 20,000 regional population.
    A group of growers that included a rural nursery, an influnetial beekeeper, a small abatoir and market garden mennonite growing group, a crafts person, and about 3 others banded together in forming a sort of corporation that approached also the regional business development association. As a group with clout and purpose they set up their first market gatherings outside the town at the indian reserve with open arms. After about 3 consecutive successful years of operation, the established farmers market group with sustaining vendors offering a guaranteed supply to keep a consumer base interested in coming back every week, the town was convinced that it was good business and attraction to the town for them to set up on a choice property. The group had monthly meetings as an organization with Robert's rules of order, and the whole nine yards of officiousness. With perseverence they eventually got on going agricultural grants to build a permanent structure that only increased further interest to the town. Now it's a regular feature with weekly attractions with some craft people and advertising campaign. People in town would miss the Farmer's market if it wasn't there now.

    Maybe the idea to work with the power of numbers in a group of organized and persistent membership in a 'corporate' atmosphere that will convince the 'powers that be' to get your market to fly.
     
  6. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    moonwolf has some good ideas! get together with some other potential venders and then go to the mayor. farmers markets enhance local businesss . had a store open carrying some of the same stuff as our farmers market .more than one nay sayer said this was the begining of the end! last year was the best year for our market and the little store is doing fine too! more voices backing your idea will show that your idea has merit. even if you have just a few market days this coming year a good idea grows!just watch the junk sale garbage sale trap.people will want to come for good nature and good food!
     
  7. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    In Huntindon, TN there is a Tuesday morning open air combination flea and farmers' market. One of my neighbors has been in the area a long time and said it was there when he arrived. It is held on their County Fairgrounds. Run apparently by the Fair Board with very little managment required from what I have seen. Flat $6.00 per space entry fee. If you want to park your car inside the general area, $2.00, I think, to do so. Many vendors are already set up by dawn and it is pretty well over by 10 AM. I would say it is about 20% produce, 60% flea market and 20% livestock and dogs. I don't believe it would have survived had it been exclusively one or the other - it is the mix which brings in vendors and customers. First Tuesday is normally the big day for the produce vendors as that is when many people get their retirements checks.

    Depending on the weather, I would WAG between 20 and 60 spaces used. Say it averaged 40. That is about $240 a week, or almost $1,000 a month, to the fair grounds without much work on their part.

    Is there an option for something like this in your area? I know the local fair boards has discussed it from time to time, but no one wants to be the daddy rabbit of it.

    Ken Scharabok
     
  8. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    The biggest thing is money. It doesn't take alot of money to make a farmer's market work, but advertising here is EXPENSIVE! No advertising...no market.

    If the mayor indicates any suppport at all, I will continue. I will work on a business plan for the market, and solicit other organizations to back it, either financially or just by name. Usually senior centers will help as there are vouchers seniors can get for free produce! One of my contacts is on the board of Arts Illiana and she has expressed interest. I will contact St Mary's as this is right down their alley. I will contact the farms down along 41 to see if they'd be interested and start finding producers that way. I will contact the paper and ask them to do a small story, or at least run a blurb asking for interested parties to call me.

    I had not thought of the local nurseries or FFA groups. I had thought of ISU. I keep thinking...what do upscale people support? Arts, education, enviroment, ???? The more of those things I can incorporate into it, the more support I will get, right?

    Thanks for the help.

    Jena
     
  9. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

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  10. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Jena, Advertising for the market here during the season is a weekly half, or full page newspaper display ad. Over the years, the market has put up significant sized billboards on the outskirts of town to lure travelers, tourists, and the local awareness. I wouldn't doubt if some of that advertising money comes from grants, but also from the fees charged vendors is part of promotion. It basically has evolved to the attention now that the Farmer's Market, but it takes time. The first 5 years were growth and leaning and a few cold saturdays in May for the vendors without heat. :rolleyes: It's now an early May to late October operation, and even rents the building and grounds at Christmas to tree sales and a well attended 'christmas store'. They never seem to run out of ideas to attract customers to make the market pay.
    Vendors for crafts include cedar furniture makers, wood bird carvers, nick nack craft items for the garden such as bluebird house builders, home made bird feeders, woven chair craft, agricultural artist (paints cow pictures...really!), custom knife crafters, and even bait tank with minnows for the fishermen set up on occasion. The honey man with their unique jam products is a big attraction in the center of the market building. There are bulk spice selling by the mennonite baker ladies, a specialty sausage maker alone can do well there.
    Asking the major vendors for the appropriate fee, and using a portion of that with say about 20 of those vendors for advertising dollars can pay off with the display ads that can be afforded. That's good business, and they know it.

    My belief is that this bottom up approach from the vendors making their offerings brings in the public from a variety of consumer tastes. The interests for the range of population will give the support, rather than limiting a select group to cater. You might not think that some of the main shoppers there are weekend cottage goers and tourism, but mainly the word of mouth sustains that market in the sense that you 'just go there' and find the variety you seek. The craft people do well there. High priced art may be less of demand, but perhaps those artists don't need to be concerned as much about quantity sales either.
    The market committe also determines the balance of vendor types to keep variety and need to the consumer. Take surveys of what customers want and present numbers to convince appealing to those needs.
    Nothing is guaranteed. It takes a bunch of cooperation to pull it off. Not everyone wins, but there are very few losers if attention is paid to what's going on.
     
  11. melinda

    melinda Well-Known Member

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    I was involved in a market creation in Houston and did some research. It was started by a group, no city involvement until after it was up and going. It was located on private property, in a restaurant parking lot, in a neighborhood that supported it pretty well. Meanwhile another group had spent several years, and gathered some $$, and opened more than a year later. So there are several approaches! Get some folks together, and just start up - get some folks together, study & research and then start up.

    New Orleans has a pretty good model for markets, and they have published some books. There are several good model markets to look at, online. Here's the New Orleans link (Crescent City Farmers Markets):
    http://crescentcityfarmersmarket.org/about/help.php

    Two marketing tips we used pretty well in Houston: online and free stuff. We collected emails, and send out a weekly email - after 2 years, there are over 1000 email addresses on the list. And write a good, short, media release and mail/email it to every paper, newsletter, radio & tv station in an hour's drive. Send that release with minor changes EVERY WEEK to the right people - like, the food editor at the big paper. Oh and three: a cheap but good flyer tacked up any place with a bulletin board. If you can get several people to print some on their home printers, you will spread the cost around.

    One word of advice about starting up without much structure: it will be hard to make changes later if you haven't drafted some sort of rules (that can change) for your vendors. All farmer-grown? All grown within, say, 100 miles? No crafts? Local crafts only? Farm-created crafts only? Will your "board" be made up of farmers only? vendors only? community leaders?

    and the biggest startup problem for farmers markets - prepared food vs. the health department, I would wager! did you know that putting a lettuce mix in a bag and closing it = prepared food many places?

    oooops looks like I can go on and on. One other issue: if you start it, can YOU let it go? Not just markets - lots of "founders" end up being the problem in an organization - I've seen it happen over and over - you might consider getting more people involved in the beginning and maybe even pledge NOT to get too personally involved... Put it in perspective - and let some others share the work and glory. arrrggg here I am on a soapbox lecturing at 8 o'clock in the morning!!!

    lotsa luck getting your market going. Forget the mayor - let him/her wish he'd gotten on the bandwagon earlier!!!
     
  12. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Personally I don't listen much to politicians, they've re-election on the brain and that seems to hamper any real work. Most are simply cheerleaders as suggested. I'd talk to potential vendors, including artisans. If you insist asking the Mayor and he starts reeming off all the permits or licences etc. just say "Great that's your roll, get the info together for me while I rally the potential vendors and patrons". You're going to have to charge a decent fee to pay for advertising its expensive every where. Still roadside signs are basically free, notices on bulletin boards are free, and most radio and newspaper (TV) will post upcoming events like your opening day. Work the free stuff too.
     
  13. clovis

    clovis Well-Known Member

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    Jenna,
    I think you have gotten some great advice here....if you can find the vendors and a place to have the event, the people will come.
    If I am not mistaken, you have 3 newspapers in TH. Indianapolis Star, the local paper and the ISU paper. If you play this right, sending them a press release, I bet all three would write a story when you open.
    If you are able to team up with a not for profit group, the word of mouth will be priceless. There are thousands of marketing ideas that wouldn't hardly cost a dime.
    Remember, these reluctant folks are not your mom, and cant keep you from starting this market. You are the only one that can stop it from being a reality.
    clove
     
  14. Bluecreekrog

    Bluecreekrog Well-Known Member

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    Jena, The market I sell at here in Cincinnati was set up by community council. (Each neighborhood has one here) There are farmers mkts all over the city. (Several a day) Ours was established to encourage people to shop in their own neighborhood, it had the full support of the local business club and in fact they donated the space and the neighborhood banks chipped in for the advertisement. It has been so sucessful that the local Kroger Grocery store is now piling their crap in the parking lot and calling it a farmers mkt. LOL Many of the mkts here are in large church parking lots. No venders licenses and all that other red tape that comes with City "help". Just some food for thought.
    Rog
     
  15. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Jena,
    Im guessing you know they have one at Victor Valley College?It is a real hit,we sure stop by when we can.
    Lots of school traffic too,kind of a captive audience.
    BooBoo
     
  16. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    People on this board are just full of wisdom. I'd not even thought of e-mail, but of course if you could use the lists from interested parties (each vendor, churches that will support you, etc) that is quite a targeted audience. And virtually free. Add to that flyers at churches, college, schools, places of business, etc. with specific dates and times and you're reaching a large audience. People who are interested in helping, but are not the farmers can do the legwork. If there are any "things to do" calendars printed up, you can probably get your market listed for free. Nonlocal people look at these calendars when they come to town, and a farmer's market I think would be a tourist attraction to anyone who doesn't have one in their own locale.

    Marketing is a huge job, even when done efficiently and I hope you can find someone willing to co-ordinate it.
     
  17. evilbunny

    evilbunny Well-Known Member

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    Jena

    I wish you lived closer to me. I live on a very busy highway with my hay field abutting the road. I have thought since I bought this place that it would be great to open a every day market.

    Perhaps there are some farmers with similar interests like me who cant get it done for one reason or another but might be able to with your and a few others help.

    My reason is I need an access to the area and dont have the cash to get it done. That and I dont have enough of my own stuff to sell as yet.

    Good luck gal. You have inspired me many times and I am sure with your persistence and brains you can get it done.
     
  18. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    I am still ROFL about the fARTer's market ... will have to pass that one along to my folks the artisans. :haha:

    Anyway ... I wonder if you might be able to snag grant money for advertising through organizations interested in rural development or women in agriculture. (I thought I had some links bookmarked but I am not finding them ...)

    Good luck!
    ann
     
  19. momofeight

    momofeight Active Member

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    Detroit has the Eastern MARKET...now that's a big enough city, and our market is very, very successful. IT WAS EVEN Featured on Food Finds on the food network. Go ahead and start one...who cares about the nay sayers.
     
  20. wjoerob

    wjoerob Member

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    Ditto the idea of the Parks & Rec. dept. Our town did that -- Saturday mornings in a parking lot by the Rec Center/Swimming Pool. Handy and in a prominent spot, very visible.