The legendary founders of Fresh Farm Markets (in DC, Maryland and Virginia), Ann Yonkers and Bernie Prince shared their template for success for building markets in this article. Their characteristics for success include: producers only, local focus, good management, event and service ethos and markets acting as town squares. A solid list; what always occurs to me when I hear this are the amount of variables from that list that I see from market to market and region to region.
When I ran markets in New Orleans, we would have added:
Rain or shine, meaning a regularly occurring market.
The market as a mechanism for behavior change, meaning an active role to expand its reach by acknowledging the social determinants of health and affecting the policies that shape them, which is, of course, closely related to the town square ethos.
I’d also like to hear what YOUR non-negotiables are in your market community.
In other words, what are really the “non-negotiables” for all markets? How can we be sure that we get measured for what we actually do, and not what the neighboring market does or even what a partner organization thinks we should do without taking into consideration the capacity and goals of the existing market community.
I have been struggling with an article that I’ll share with the market and food system field (when completed) challenging researchers and practioners to help define sets of characteristics that will identify the types of market that the local community wants to offer. This methodology, called market typology, will show how communities choose their own structure, product selection and partnerships based on their goals and community assets and yet need to align their work with peers across the country in order to share and grow the field for the future.
If anyone is interested in reading the draft and commenting on the typology question, feel free to email me directly and I’ll send you a link.