Professional Development for Ohio Farmers Market Managers and OSU Extension Educators on Creating a Culture of Data Collection for Sustainability Planning for Markets and Farmers

Final report for ENC19-185

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $81,316.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipient: The Ohio State University Extension
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Christie Welch
The Ohio State University Extension
Eric Barrett
Ohio State University Extension
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Project Information


This project will train Ohio farmers markets, including those in Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties, in all areas, sizes, ages, and levels of capacity on dynamic data collection and analysis to gain economic and ecological data that can increase their sustainability. Extension professionals and farmers markets managers will be trained in the use of the materials for their work with direct-to-consumer farmers. The materials will be paired with case studies featuring Extension staff and sustainable farmers on farm-level data being collected and the complementary market-level data needed to grow these businesses.  This training will be conducted through the new Ohio Farmers Market Network (OFMN)'s managers certification program, other existing networks, and regionally with new, small or rural markets not yet aligned with networks. The project will result in a database of markets and their use of data systems, actionable strategies for aiding vendors with business and product development, a permanent data system curriculum for market trainers and Extension Educators, and case studies that highlight the different data needs of sustainable farmers. Through this project, a shared culture of data collection that benefits farmers, increases consumer awareness of the value of sustainable production and builds aggregated messaging will be gained.  Extension will be able to better partner with farmers markets on projects that serve farm businesses. The materials will be shared with neighboring states to increase the regional availability of data.

Project Objectives:






Database of farmers markets formed between OFMN, OSUE, and FMC.

Project summary sheet

Baseline market data created

Project summary sheet shared online (through database) and in articles to raise awareness of the project.

120  market managers

150 Extension Educators



Conference attendance Schedule

Project team members presented at 1 conferences throughout Ohio in Year 2020 to create awareness. The conferences were not held due to the Pandemic.

Year 1, 2020

OSUE Annual Conference (Virtual)

Year 2, 2021

OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Conference (Virtual)

Farm Science Review

Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (Virtual)

Ohio Farmers Markets Network (Virtual)

OFMN Market Managers Certificate Program (Virtual)

Year 3, 2022

OSUE Community Development Conference (Virtual)

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (Virtual)

OFMN Market Managers Certificate Program (Virtual)

Year 4, 2023

OFMN Annual Conference

OFMN Market Managers Certificate Program (Virtual)





  225 managers, vendors, and extension educators learned about the need for data collection and how this project can assist them.


Train Market Managers through OFMN certification program

Market Manager Certification Training and Networks

125 Market Managers receive training on data collection and use


Train Market Managers that are not aligned with networks

Travel of project team members to non-networked markets and train in person

28  Market Managers in non-networked markets received training on data collection and use


Conduct interviews of DTC vendors to gather input on the data they use and/or need for business level sustainability planning and decision making

Project team members interview 10 DTC vendors to gain insight on their data needs and develop case studies of these vendors to be included in the curriculum.

 15 DTC vendors share input on the data they use and/or need to make business decisions


Data collection systems for markets and DTC vendors is created and the developed database of markets and their data systems will be shared statewide.

Data collection systems developed.

Curriculum developed.

Train-the-trainer materials developed.

25 Farmers Market managers and 47 Extension professionals learned how to to train farmers market stakeholders on data collection and use.


Train-the-trainer  Extension Educators Training

Training to be held online and in-person to train OSU Extension Educators.

20 OSU Extension Educators working with DTC vendors are able to train these vendors and their local farmers markets on data collection and use.


Train-the-trainer presentations on data collection systems

Present at Michigan, Indiana, and West Virginia Farmers Markets Conferences on the tools developed through this project.

Travel to other state conferences was not done due to the Pandemic which delayed many conferences. And while the project has officially ended,  market managers and stakeholders in surrounding states will be trained on data collection systems developed through this project. Once trained, these trainers can train markets and stakeholders in their states.


The overall goal of this project was to train Extension Educators and farmers market stakeholders on available data collections methods and why and how farmers markets collect and use data for decision making.  The project was delayed due to Covid-19 and administrative obstacles. We requested and received a one-year no cost extension of the project.  

During the first year of the project, we created a database of farmers markets in Ohio and are identifying those that currently collect data.  We have also presented the project to The Ohio State University Extension Educators at their annual conference (Dec. 2020).  35 individuals attended the presentation and will be contacted for further information and education on data collection.

During 2021 five trainings were held to educate both extension educators and farmers markets stakeholders.  All but one of these trainings was offered virtually. During 2022, three additional virtual presentations were given to Extension Educators and farmers market managers, vendors, and other stakeholders. And in year four (project was extended), a presentation was given during the in-person Ohio Farmers Markets Annual Conference.

And while we had planned to present at surrounds state's farmers markets annual conference, this did not occur due to the impacts of the Pandemic. We will continue to look for opportunities to make presentations to surroundings states on what we learn from this project around data collection and use at farmers markets.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Darlene Wolnik (Educator)
  • Jaime Hadji (Educator)


Educational approach:

Target audience members for this project include extension educators and farmers markets managers, vendors, and stakeholders.  These individuals will be educated about data collection and use through a series of presentations at a variety of conferences throughout Ohio.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Data collection at use at Ohio Farmers Markets

To increase awareness of extension educators on tools and methods available to assist them in assisting their local farmers markets in data collection and use for decision making.


Virtually presented to the Ohio State University Annual Extension conference.  The presentation provided the background for the need for this project as well as opportunities for them to learn more and get involved in the project.  35 attended the presentation.

Outcomes and impacts:

35 educators increased their knowledge of data collection methods and tools that they can use to assist the farmers markets in their counties with informed decision making for sustainability.

Educational & Outreach Activities

20 Consultations
3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
9 Online trainings
5 Published press articles, newsletters
11 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Other educational activities: Created a database of Ohio farmers markets which was used to reach out to markets to share information about the project, ask them about their data collection and use, and requested markets contact us that would like to be more involved in the project. We combined several database that were available in Ohio as well as searched online for markets. We conducted a Case Study of Direct Marketing Farmers that sell at 1 or more farmers markets to learn more about how they collect and use data for business decision making. See attached Case Study Report.

Participation Summary:

224 Extension
12 Nonprofit
3 Agency
3 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
83 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

224 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
20 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

7 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

Through the activities of this project, 224 OSU Extension Educators have learned about the importance of data collection and use by farmers markets.  They have learned how data collection can be an important tool to assist farmers markets with decision making.  They have also learned that data collection needs to be market driven and how they can assist their local farmers markets to develop data collection methods and uses that will benefit the market, the vendors/farmers, and the community.

During the 2022 OSU Extension Annual Conference 45 Extension Educators participated in a hand-on session of how to conduct a Dot Survey at farmers markets. These educators were guided through the process of developing questions, how participants respond to questions, and what to do with the information received. This hand-on activity was designed the help educators better support their local farmers markets in data collection processes.

As a result of work conducted during this project and through other activities, Dar Wolnik of Farmers Market Coalition lead the creation of two Quick Guides on data collection. See upload Quick Guides.

2 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
Additional Outcomes:

This project has a rocky start due to some administrative issues and then due to the Pandemic which shut down much of the country. Because of this, some of the planned in-person presentations were not delivered. And while this project has officially ended, we will continue to look for opportunities to share lessons learned in Ohio with surrounding states farmers markets managers, extension educators, and stakeholders.


While this project has provided a starting point to better understand how and why farmers markets do or do not collect and use data for decision making, there is still much work to be done. Some of the areas that might help move these efforts forward could include:

  • Helping farmers market managers, extension educators, and direct marketing farmers better understand what resources are available to assist with data collection and use.
  • Helping better connect Extension educators with farmers markets managers so that working collaboratively the can collect, analyze, and communicate the data finding to help increase the success and sustainability of farmers markets.
  • Helping educate farmers markets managers on how they can more effectively communicate with their vendors and what type of information existing and potential vendors use when deciding whether or not to participate in their farmers market.

Information Products

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.