The Crunchy Cities Index – Support Farmers Markets

This is an exciting piece on the explosion of farmers markets, but I must confess that based on my own knowledge, I find the data to be less than precise. The USDA list of markets is not checked for accuracy and as it is up to market organizers to list and to de-list their own markets, most estimations believe that the list is far from accurate, even though the USDA does everything within its (limited) time to make it right. Even the definition of what can be listed as a market is loose; this may seem like nitpicking (after all more “markets” is good news isn’t it?) but since we know how the capacity of markets remains low partly because of low support among funders and policy makers, the lack of clarity may hurt chances to expand well-managed farmers markets or public markets that support local entrepreneurs.
What is also true is that many retail operations masquerade as farmers markets without directly supporting farmers or managing those involved in direct sales; regular operation, transparent governance and some direct sales for regional producers should at least be the minimum to being listed on this list. Don’t get me wrong; I like the idea of auxiliary and ancillary food initiatives that get regional food into more communities being listed somewhere and to be tied to efforts at flagship or sister market organizations, but we should get better at describing each of them with their own type so we can allow more to flourish.

The Crunchy Cities Index – Buy Local by I Support Farmers Markets.

On-Farm Slaughter May Be Legal, But It’s Complicated

H-515, the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets housekeeping bill, made it legal for farmers to facilitate on-farm slaughter, but not conduct it themselves. The limitations – and wording – of the rule are causing some frustration and confusion.

On-Farm Slaughter May Be Legal, But It's Complicated | Vermont Public Radio.

Market Benefit and Incentives PPT-Vermont 2013 – Helping Public Markets Grow

Since I’m back in Vermont for the 2014 Direct Marketing Conference, I decided to upload the Power Point from the 2013 Wholesome Wave convening that Erin Buckwalter of NOFA-VT and I gave about the 2013 Vermont Market Currency Report. I’ll add notes for each slide sometime in the next month or two but the data will still be helpful to many.

Market Benefit and Incentives PPT-Vermont 2013 – Helping Public Markets Grow.

Growing for Market

The link to the excellent Growing For Markets site. In the January 2014 issue, I have an article where I share the latest news on SNAP at farmers markets. GFM is a great magazine for news and tips for market farmers and organizers. You can subscribe at different levels for print or online (which can include their excellent archives) or you can simply purchase a single issue.

Growing For Market

Better Health for Food Deserts: Are Mobile Farmers Markets the Answer? | Health on GOOD

Thanks to new NYC friends Anna and Manuel of Zago for sending this. Whenever I see an article on mobile markets, a few questions immediately come to mind, here are some in no particular order:

• How can people use these initiatives to leverage good food coming into their area more regularly? Has there been an example of a mobile truck initiative that led to food security? It would seem to me that if paired with some other food and social initiatives either in concert or in succession, this might be a powerful tool.

• Has anyone figured out a good business model yet? I believe that there is one out there, yes have not read of it yet.
Possibly using it as a simultaneous delivery mechanism for middle or upper income food orders might help offset the costs.
Or maybe mobile trucks can be a meal service that offers healthy food also as healthy prepared meals sent out just before and during non-traditional meal times (for those working people with typically odd work schedules) at low prices, along with some information. Sort of a combination of the food truck with the mobile market.
Or one of those ideas on our “someday” list at my last organization in New Orleans-to create a “useful” mobile market with non-food items like paper products, juice, simple hardware items etc along with those food items.

• Along those lines, is this type of thing best used as a temporal idea that to begin to promote good food and to gather initial data to then get the area to the next more permanent idea or is there a long term strategy as to their use?

• Finally, when farmers sell to these outlets, does it increase their reach or decrease it? In other words, have farmers begun to grow or make products just for these endeavors or are they taking products from other outlets? And if they have added this to their sales reach, is it financially viable for them to do so? And from the standpoint of the organizers, are many of these using their very mobility to share gleaned or seconds from those market farmers that these mobile trucks can reach easily and in some quantity on market day?

or as Manuel eloquently wrote in the conversation we had via email around this topic:
One of the biggest challenges for me when thinking about scale and community, especially when thinking about underserved urban populations, is the problem of density and offerings. The smaller and more challenged the environment the more difficult is to build volume, presence and relevance.

YES.

I look forward to the continuing conversation around this idea and connecting these initiatives to market organizations whenever applicable.

Better Health for Food Deserts: Are Mobile Farmers Markets the Answer? | Health on GOOD.