Moving forward with markets

For the better part of the last 20 years, I have devoted my energy to the field of farmers markets, designing and running them, writing and analyzing them with the goal to expand all of its hyperlocal community energy into something that resembles a community of practice that can reduce burnout, increase support, and embed best practices and resources for its organizers. That in turn will help assist meet its true focus: build support for the farmers and small businesses that make up these markets, who are gambling their skills and talents, their bodies, and their futures to ensure their place is still there. If we succeed, we will offer our communities a true alternative to the backwards and crippled dominant systems that are killing this earth and life on it.

So no biggie; it’s just…well, everything.

The first ten years I did this work as Market Umbrella’s Deputy Director and its Marketshare Director. Beginning in 2011, I became a consultant at Helping Public Markets Grow, and then since 2015, a part-time staff person at the only national organization devoted entirely to supporting farmers market operators and networks, Farmers Market Coalition.

I am pleased to announce that I am beginning a new iteration of this work as Farmers Market Coalition’s Training and Technical Assistance Director. This will allow our team to dive much more deeply into the underlying issues that stymie direct-to-consumer channels and also add more components and layers of support for operators within FMC and among market partners. Those partners are increasingly realizing that markets are truly a place for innovation, for incubation of new ideas, and remain the most visible and democratic center of dynamic local and regional food systems. What they may still miss is how much work it takes to make it all add up to system change.

To make all of that balance for everyone’s needs while properly stewarding the resources given to me and use them all in the right order, is the puzzle I am trying to figure out; if you have ideas, feel free to drop me a line.

In this blog, I’ll keep focusing on the big topics and try to use this to continue to inspire but also keep my eye on the local community that I actually live in, where I am constantly inspired by the next generations putting it all out there, even as I am worrying that all of our work will come to naught. Sound familiar?

To keep you entertained, may I send you to my farmers market book group? It has been dormant for some time, but needs to be revived.