Making the Most of Farmers’ Markets in 2013
No doubt about it, opportunities for sales at farmers’ markets are on the rise in Massachusetts. David Webber, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Farmers’ Market Program Coordinator says:
The number of winter farmers’ markets has grown from 6 in 2009 to 41 this year, so there are definitely opportunities for local growers with winter vegetables or storage crops. The number of summer farmers’ markets also continues to grow from 203 in 2009 to 255 (in 2012).
Winter market opportunities are increasing at a faster rate than summer markets, so now may be a good time to visit a winter market and talk to other farmers or the market manager to get a sense of what to grow if you are interested in expanding into the winter market. The MassGrown & Fresher Map is a good place to find these Winter Farmers’ Markets: http://massnrc.org/farmlocator/map.aspx
In fact, while you’re at it, why not put yourself on the map! Submit a simple form and get your farm listed on the MassGrown Map. If you would like to be included, please click here (.pdf, .doc) to fill out the form and email it to Rick LeBlanc: Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us.
Suppose you are already a vendor at a farmers’ market in Massachusetts, what are some ways to increase your sales and build loyal customers? Here are some tips for expanding your sales at farmers’ markets in 2013:
- Plan to grow winter vegetables and storage crops next season to sell in Winter Farmers’ Markets. Need help? Contact the UMass Extension Vegetable Team, they are conducting research on winter production and storage crops: Winter Production and Storage
- Attend a workshop or conference on Marketing or Financial Planning.
- Harvest New England Ag Marketing Conference and Tradeshow (February 27-28, 2013): //email@example.com:993/www.regonline.com/2013HNEconference" target="_blank">www.regonline.com/2013HNEconference
- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture workshop series: “Financial Management and Business Decision Making” http://www.buylocalfood.org/resources-for-farmers/workshops-and-assistance/
- Sell to low income farmers’ market customers by getting certified to accept EBT and Farmers’ Market Coupons from SNAP or WIC by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-626-1713
- Improve visibility by requesting free labeling materials from the MDAR Logo Program: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/markets/logo-program/
- Certification can add value to your crops, enhance brand recognition and help distinguish your farm:
- Commonwealth Quality: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/commonwealth-quality-program.html
- Organic Certification Cost Share Program: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/markets/organic-cost-share-program-generic.html
- Look into options for developing value-added products from your farm: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/markets/culinary-tourism/value-added-food-products.html
- Make sure regulatory requirements are up to date for farmers’ market sales: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/markets/farmers-markets/farmers-market-regulatory-reqs-lc.html
- Provide your farmers’ market customers with options for purchasing from you while building customer loyalty.
With these tips for successful marketing, have a fruitful season!
written by Katie Campbell-Nelson, Instructor, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, UMass Amherst