Fresh Ideas help Albion’s Farmers Market produce better participation.
October 15, 2019
According to the USDA, the number of farmers markets has increased nationwide from 2,000 in 1994 to more than 8,600 in 2019. While it is satisfying to see such an abundance of growth, it also creates the unique problem of getting a good ratio between the farmers who are providing the produce and having the customers at the market to buy it.
With Albion’s Farmers Market facing similar challenges, Caster Cares™ talked with Laura Overholt, Facility Manager of the Albion Food Hub and Farmers Market about what customers and vendors want out of a farmer’s market to seek a solution.
Everyone involved appreciates the value of having a local farmers market, as there isn’t a lot of places to get fresh product in Albion. Caster Cares™ saw this as a meaningful opportunity to help local farmers while supplying fresh produce to the community at large.
A system was set up with the vendors to help ensure they would bring fresh produce. The farmers determined what they would typically make on their produce on a good night, and a set price was established. If they fell short of the set price, they would be reimbursed for the difference.
For eight weeks on Wednesday nights, the farmers provided fresh produce for the farmers market. They were guaranteed to make $75, whether it came from selling all their food, or given the difference to hit the guaranteed price.
This proved to be a perfect setup for all involved. Farmers who might have participated in the farmers market before but hadn’t come back were interested again, as well as new vendors.
Another benefit was that if a vendor didn’t sell out of produce, it was bought by Caster Cares™ and given to the shop floor employees at Caster Concepts, who were extremely happy to receive fresh produce. Attendance for the farmers market also increased, as people began learning about the new changes to the market (including community events) and especially the increased produce available.
Farmers’ markets are beneficial in many ways. They provide customers with a cost-effective way to consume farm-fresh, locally grown food while promoting the opportunity for vendors and consumers to get to know each other on a personal level. Plans are already in the works to ensure next year’s farmers market is as meaningful as this years.