Growing Carver community connections

Final Report for CNE07-024

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2007: $9,800.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $16,100.00
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Jack Hunter
Department of Planning and Community Development
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Project Information

Summary:

The Town of Carver's Agricultural Commission launched a Farmers Market in 2006 to provide visibility for agriculture in the town and provide a new retail market for existing and new farmers. Although considered “good” by the Market vendors, the Market needed to be strengthened to include more Carver vendors and more locally grown and produced product.

The Town Department of Planning and Community Development joined with the town Agricultural Commission and proposed that the Farmers’ Market serve as a hub for town and community outreach and education activities focused on engaging Carver residents in town government, while offering a consistent retail market for new and existing growers.

The Market was open on 21 Sundays from June 10th through October 28th, 2007. The Market provided the environment to educate market visitors and customers about the community: community events, meetings, and forums; how to get involved in town government and community, and offered opportunities for Carver residents to get involved in the decision making political process.

The AgCom and Planning and Community Development Department established several goals for the 2007 Farmers Market.
1. Carver residents recognize the market as a hub for civic outreach and education.

2. The # of Carver residents visiting the market increases throughout the Market season.

3. The # of Carver residents who are repeat customers increases through the Market season.

4. New resident participation in town government activities is encouraged and achieved.

5. More than 50% of Market vendors are Carver growers/producers.

6. More than 50% of vendors sell locally grown produce and/or products made from local
products.

7. An economic incentive is created to encourage new small growers in Carver.

Project Objectives:

The Carver Planning and Community Development Department and Agricultural Commission established several goals for the 2007 Farmers Market.

1. Carver residents recognize the market as a hub for civic outreach and education.

2. The # of Carver residents visiting the market increases throughout the Market season.

3. The # of Carver residents who are repeat customers increases through the Market season.

4. New resident participation in town government activities is encouraged and achieved.

5. More than 50% of Market vendors are Carver growers/producers.

6. More than 50% of vendors sell locally grown produce and/or products made from local
products.

7. An economic incentive is created to encourage new small growers in Carver.

Introduction:

The Growing Carver Community Connections project proposed to:

Improve marketing and promotion activities for the Carver Farmer’s Market to attract Carver resident consumers and customers from nearby towns.

Implement civic outreach and education tools and events at the Farmers Market intended to encourage resident involvement in town government.

This project also intended to encourage new growers in Carver by providing them with an accessible and established market and with grower education on how to grow for the market, growing methods, conventional to organic.

The Growing Carver Community Connections project developed from a collaboration between Carver’s Department of Planning and Community Development, Planning Board, Board of Selectmen, Agricultural Commission, Farmers Market Manager, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Pilgrim Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council. These partners were brought together by the town’s Director of Planning and Community Development and asked how to strengthen the Farmers Market as a successful retail market for Carver growers and to develop the Market into a recognized center for civic education and outreach.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Richard Ward

Research

Materials and methods:

Task I. Establish & Engage Project Advisory Committee**

Who: Project Collaborators (Regional Planning Agency, Makepeace Co. Marketing Specialist, SEMAP Executive Director, Carver AgCom, Pilgrim RC&D Coordinator)
When: 12.01.06 1.01.07**

a. Support goals of Community Connections project
Who: Advisory Committee
When: 1.01.07 11.31.07

b. Develop marketing and promotion plan** for Farmers Market and Civic Outreach and Education Plan
Who: Advisory Committee
When: 1.01.07 2.01.07**

c. Solicit for and Select Project Coordinator**
Who: Advisory Committee And Town Administrator
When: 1.01.07** 2.01.07**

e. Work closely with Project Coordinator, provide
oversight for performance and budget, support for
activities and guidance when needed.
Who: Advisory Committee
When: 2.01.07 11.31.07

f. Review outcomes of surveys and critique of project activities, work with Coordinator to make needed project changes.
Who: Advisory Committee
When: 2.01.07 11.31.07

Task II. Marketing and Promotion Plan for Farmers Market

a. Work with Advisory Committee and Market Manager to solicit and organize Market vendors-focus on project goals, customer demand and anchor vendors.
Who: Project Coordinator
When: 2.01.07 5.01.07
then continually through Market season

b. Implement marketing and promotion plan **
(signage, banners, cable, newspapers, special events, Culinary demonstrations, concerts, surveys …)
Who: Project Coordinator
When: 5.01.07** 11.31.07**

Task III. Civic Outreach and Education Plan
a. Work with Advisory Committee and Carver Planning and Community Development Director to organize and schedule civic outreach and education events: town and community organizations to have booths at each market; town bulletin board; Community Connections Newsletter (3 editions) contents, printing and distribution. Focus on project goals.
Who: Project Coordinator
When: 5.01.07 11.31.07

b. Implement Civic Outreach and Education Plan **
(bulletin boards, town board and staff participation, flyers, special events, newspapers, surveys…)
Who: Project Coordinator
When: 5.01.07** 11.31.07**

Task IV. Farmers Market Vendor Surveys
a. Work with Advisory Committee and Market Manager to develop survey instrument to track vendor participation, new growers, location, satisfaction, sales, and suggestions.
Who: Project Coordinator
When: 4.01.07 5.01.07

b. Organize survey volunteers and conduct surveys.**
Who: Project Coordinator
When: 4.01.07**
throughout market season
5.01.07**
7.01.07**
9.01.07**
11.01.07**

c. Synthesize data and provide to Advisory Committee. If needed, make required changes in marketing and promotion plan.
Who: Project Coordinator
When: 5.07.07**
7.07.07**
9.07.07**
11.07.07**

Task V. Farmers Market Customer Surveys and Town and Community Organization Survey
a. Work with Advisory Committee and Town Planning
and Development Director to develop survey
instrument to track customers: products purchased,
repeat customer, residency, satisfaction, interest in civic involvement, learn new things about community, actions taken to become involved and suggestions.

Organizations Survey:
Who: Project Coordinator
When: 4.1.07 5.01.07

b. Organize survey volunteers and conduct surveys.**
Who: Project Coordinator
When: 4.10.07 **
throughout market season
5.01.07**
7.01.07**
9.01.07**
11.01.07**

c. Synthesize data and provide to Advisory Committee and Director. If needed, make required changes in marketing and promotion plan.
Who: Project Coordinator
When: 5.07.07**
7.07.07**
9.07.07**
11.07.07**
**: Milestones

Research results and discussion:

Goals and associated outcomes:

Surveys were used for gathering data from Farmers Market vendors, Market customers and community organizations attending the market.

Market was open for 21 Sundays from June 10th to October 28, 2007.

Surveys of vendors, customers and community organizations were conducted during the 2007 Farmers Market season.

Weather was nice throughout the season. No Sunday during the season was adversely affected due to weather.

July 15, 2007: 75% of the Vendors were surveyed. (Market #6)

August 12, 2007: 15% of customers (90/600 market customers) were surveyed. (Market #10)

January 2008: 25% of town and community organizations attending the market were surveyed.

Survey results were analyzed and used by the Market Manager, Project Coordinator, and Advisory Committee to measure project goal achievement. Growing Carver Community Connections Project goals are:

GOAL 1. Carver residents recognize the Market as a hub for civic outreach and education.

Of the customers surveyed, 46% were at the market for the first time.

Of repeat customers, 75% were Carver residents

Of those Carver repeat customers: 85% stated that they learned something that they had not previously known about the town/community by visiting the town/community organization booths, visiting the Community Connections Bulletin Board and reading the Growing Carver Community Connections newsletter.

This is how Carver residents responded to the following question:

What would encourage you to participate in town and/or community boards and organizations, attend educational forums or attend town meeting?
• If I was interested in topic
• If I had more time
• I Attend/participate them already ///////
• If more people demonstrated Community Spirit
• If participating makes me feel good
• I participate in meals on wheels and
charity work
• Do attend occasionally – sometimes they
conflict with my schedule
• I participate in town meeting
• I need more information about what they do---
• I participate on Student Council
• I do not participate but would like to if I
knew more about them
• If I had more time//////////
• I attend town meeting
• If free child care were available//
• I participate when Issues of interest to me
• I am interested in the town
• Free coffee
• Nothing would make me participate
• Need more information on whats going on, Word
of mouth
• If I thought it would help the town
• Controversial issues attract me
• If issues or what organizations do are
something of interest to me
• If I knew more about how to get involved in
activities that support the town
• Topics related to kids and music
• Nothing //////
• Accessibility
• If responding to town issues
• Issues related to children
• Issues that affect me directly or my
family ///
• Interest in town and concerned about
community

Through the Farmers Market, town/community organization participation, newsletters and the community bulletin board, Carver residents are learning about what is happening within town government, boards, forums and meetings and are learning about what community organizations are doing to service the town and how to get involved.

Organizations will continue to participate at the market and post events etc. on the bulletin board during the 2008 Market season. Friends of the Carver Library has offered to have a permanent booth at the market to provide resource materials from all town and community organizations and serve as a "resource center" for town and community outreach.

The outreach will need to continue for residents to recognize the Market as a hub for civic outreach and education.

GOAL 2. The # of Carver residents visiting the market increases throughout the Market season.

Carver % of residents visiting and shopping at the market remained steady at approximately 75%.

GOAL 3. The # of Carver residents who are repeat customers increases through the Market season.

Of the repeat customers at the market Carver residents remained steady at approximately 75%.

GOAL 4. New participation in town government activities is encouraged and achieved.

Results of surveys show that participation was encouraged through market outreach efforts. Another year of organization participation at the market will be encouraged. Then the organizations will be surveyed again in January of 2009 to determine if participation has been achieved due to Farmers Market outreach efforts.

27% of the town/community organizations were surveyed (7/26). The following organizations attended the market at informational booths:

Board of Health, Carver Community Television, Council on Aging, Conservation Commission, DARE/TRIAD, Community Preservation Committee, Carver Commission on Disabilities, Historical Commission, Fire Department, Emergency Management Services, Agricultural Commission, Planning and Community Development Department, Recreation Committee, Veterans Services, Carver High School Field Hockey, Carver 4-H, Knights of Columbus, Plymouth County Beekeepers, Plymouth Medical Reserve Corp, Plymouth WIC, Southeastern MA Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP), Music Boosters, Rabies Clinic and Nutrition.

When asked to circle the description that best represents their experience at the Farmers’ Market, organizations responded:
5 – very useful
1 useful
1 somewhat useful

When asked to complete the following description:
Participation at the Farmers’ Market was ________useful to the community, organizations responded:
6 very useful
1 useful

When asked to complete the following description:
Participation at the Farmers’ Market was ________useful for attracting new members to my organization/board/committee, organizations responded:
1 very useful
3 useful
2 somewhat useful
1 not useful

When asked to complete the following description:
Participation at the Farmers’ Market was ________useful for educating the public about what my organization/board/committee does, organizations responded:
1 extremely useful
5 very useful
1 useful

All organizations surveyed want to participate in the 2008 market.

When asked to describe the benefits to their organizations and to the community as a result of participating in the Farmers’ Market. The following is what they had to say:

Being there made it possible for the general public to become aware of our commission and our projects which included the sale of recent books of historical significance.

Increased exposure and interaction with citizens of the community. It was a great opportunity to showcase our new rescue truck that was approved for purchase by the taxpayers of Carver. Also a great fire prevention opportunity with the children who visit the market.

Bringing to the public what the office of planning and community development does was great.

Many people stopped at the conservation table and we fielded many questions. People enjoyed looking at maps, finding out where they were in relation to rare species etc. There were also lots of questions re: interest in the Cole property which has heightened people’s awareness of the value of open space.

Any time I am able to inform, meet or greet the veterans in our community the word gets out and veterans services is able to help improve the quality of life of a veteran and/or their family.

The opportunity to distribute literature on hurricane preparedness and other hazard personnel preparedness

Exposure for EMS and opportunity to do health awareness and provide blood pressure readings and advise to the residents.

When asked what suggestions they had for encouraging town/community organizations to participate in the 2008 Farmers’ Market, this is what they had to say:

I think there has been very good publicity so far.

I think that any organization wishing to interact with the general public should consider attending the market. It is a great atmosphere, low pressure environment that should be used as an advantage to promote an organization and possible improve their public image.

More entertainment and civic groups like boy scouts, 4-H etc.

I believe small things would help. Provide music, which I would like to see every Sunday.

Get the organizations there just one and they will be hooked!

Provide an incentive, maybe coffee would help.
Please keep veterans services in mind, we would be willing to do a couple of Sundays

Keep up what you are doing.

GOAL 5. More than 50% of Market vendors are Carver growers/producers.

16 (40%) from Carver
10 (25%) from abutting towns
14 (35%) from SEMass region
1 from out of state

In the future, need to improve efforts to encourage local growing and sales at the market.

65% of vendors were from Carver and abutting towns
The abutting towns provided the opportunity for more fresh produce (vegetables and fruits) to be available at the market.

GOAL 6. More than 50% of vendors sell locally grown produce and/or products made from local
products.

50% of vendors sold locally grown or products made from locally grown

In the future, need to improve efforts to encourage local growing and sales at the market.

GOAL 7. An economic incentive is created to encourage new small growers in Carver.

Not determined

Participation Summary

Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

Outreach was accomplished through the following means:

Carver Reporter (weekly): "What's growing on" section every week throughout the market season. Featured community organizations attending the market, grower-vendors, products in season etc.

Growing Carver Community Connections Newsletter:
3 issues were created, 1500 of each issue were printed and distributed. Contents - whats going on at the market and with agriculture, promoting buy local and growing locally. Contained information about important town issues, town meetings, town educational forums, town boards and committees, what they do, vacancies, how to join, what's going on throughout the community and how to get involved.

Road Banner advertising the market was up throughout the season across state route 58 at market site.

Road Signage was developed by local artist and placed strategically throughout the town.

Market was posted on Town Website.

Market promoted on State Dept. of Agriculture website.

Community-Market Bulletin Board constructed and placed in town park (site of market), across from town hall. Contained information on upcoming town events, how to get involved in town and community and market events, buying locally and eating seasonally.

Ad Slips provided to vendors. When attending other markets Carver Market advertising slips were placed in customer market bags.

Market and Community involvement at market recognized consistently at Bi-weekly Board of Selectmen meetings.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Farmers Market is well established and viewed as a positive and valued social event during the late spring, summer and fall.

Market is becoming recognized as a venue that goes beyond the sale of local foods and crafts. That it is a place where people will learn about what is happening in the community and how to get involved. Organizations attending and operating an educational booth are a draw for people to come to the market.

Efforts will continue to engage town and community organizations at the Market in the future. Articles appeared in the local newspaper each Thursday prior to the market and advertised the organizations that were scheduled to be at the market with a brief feature articles on what they do and how to get involved. This will continue in the future.

Adjoining towns have become interested in the Carver model and are planning similar town community organization attendance at their markets.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Potential Contributions

Contributions: $16,100 (cash and in-kind)

Carver Farmers Market Committee:
Cash: $4,000
Signage
Flags
Tents for Community Organizations
Market Hats and T Shirts
Music
Hayrides
Insurance

Carver Farmers Market Committee
In-Kind: $4,000
Set up for Organizations
Briefing Organizations
Build Community/Market Bulletin Board
Survey Community Organizations

Mutual Bank
Cash: $800
Road Banner

Pilgrim RC&D Council, Inc.:
In-Kind: $2,800
Organize surveyors
Newsletter organizational assistance, editing, distribution etc.

Community Organizations:
In-kind: $4,500
1 Organization/Market = 25

Future Recommendations

Town and Community Organizations will be encouraged and enlisted to participate at the market in the coming years.

Ideally, the community connections coordinator should meet with organizations in person and enlist their participation in the market.

Organizations should be surveyed each January to determine if new participation is due to outreach efforts at the Market.

Effort needs to be focused on educating the vendors on marketing at their booths.

Several workshops should be planned and executed during the winter months for new growers to prepare to grow produce for the market.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.