The Woodford County Farmers’ Market is a business incubator for small and part-time farmers in a surburban county adjoining a major population area. A new development downtown is offering a covered year-round retail space for the Farmers’Market. This project was successful in fostering stronger economic and social ties with downtown businesses. Beautification packages of spring flower pot plantings and fall decorations of pumpkins, corn fodder stalks and mums were purchased from farmers by downtown businesses. Technical and marketing skill workshops were conducted to improve sales of products. Several promotions were conducted with vocational school and school systems to promote awareness and sales.
An internet order system was set up to help farmers sell to local restuarants. A newly established certified community kitchen is utilized by 7 farmers to add value by processing their fruits and vegetables to sell at the farmers’market.
The objectives for the project were:
1.To make community-wide connections that link locally grown farm and food products via the Farmers’ Market Association through downtown businesses, the retail sector, and other innovative routes to consumers.
2.To increase the capacity and knowledge base of Farmers’Market members and help them expand the market for their products through other market sectors, value-added product development, and promotional activities.
3.To involve the community and farmers’Market patrons in an education awareness program for using locally grown food and farm products.
4.To explore other innovative routes that tap market opportunities for farm products with community-base initiatives.
The relationships built through the Woodford County Farmers’ Market Association with the Downtown Development Corporation, Chamber of Commerce and other key leaders are important to building a sustainable community-based farmers’ market. The Farmers’Market is important to the downtown so much that a new rennovation downtown is offering the market a year-round covered market space. Work with this market members and their board through this project can at a critical time. The Market members made committments to improved skill training and better use of technology to expand their community-based market. A newly established certified community processing kitchen (funded by the Woodford County Extension Service Board) was an important investment to assist farmers and microbusiness owners develop value-added products. This will enhance greatly their year round opportunities. The County Extension agents played an important role as “bridge builders” to enhance these community efforts.
The Sustainable Community grant served as a catalyst for the following efforts:
1. Training program to 7 users to be certified to use the community kitchen for processing.
2. Farmers’Market training with a consultant to develop the market and how the year round market location can be developed and future market opportunitites.
3. Technology used to enhance sales with bi-monthly listserv for hospital, college, and restuarant purchase from farmers. This increased bulk sales of products for farmers.
4. The Downtown Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce is working closely with Farmers’ Market Association to keep market downtown and situate the yearround market downtown to meet farmers’ and developers needs.
5. Downtown businesses purchase 35 containers for beautification downtown in both spring and fall.
6.Linkages were built with information and coupons with groups such as Lose Weight the Healthy Way Extension Program, school teachers and vocational school promotions to bring people to the market.