- Education and Training: farmer to farmer
- Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, marketing management, market study
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, public participation, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, analysis of personal/family life, community services, employment opportunities, social networks, sustainability measures, community development
The purpose of this project was to support and sustain healthy rural communities in the northern Piedmont of North Carolina by increasing farmers’ and consumers’ participation at a local farmers market. Small farmers increasingly encounter challenges and obstacles as they look for alternative growing and marketing strategies to sustain their livelihood. Many small farmers find themselves faced with limited capital, time, labor and resources. In addition, many small farmers produce in limited quantities so traditional wholesale market outlets are not a viable option. This project, therefore, was designed to bring the urban community more in touch with the farming community, increase farmer and consumer participation at a local market and encourage younger and new people to be involved in the market.
Increased support for small, diverse, multi-crop farmers can help mitigate the challenges of the industrial food system with its reliance on large-scale monoculture and its long-distance distribution system. It is desired that by increasing reliance on local farm products purchased at local farmers markets facilitates communities’ participation in moving towards a sustainable agricultural-food system. Farmers markets are a critical part of the system that brings local food to local tables and restaurants.
The number of farmers markets in the United States has increased. According to the National Farmers Market Directory, there are over 3,000 farmers markets operating in the United States. Farmers markets provide an opportunity for growers to sell directly to consumers, chefs, food purveyors and food designers. They are a place of business as well as a location for building community, allowing consumers and farmers to become more closely connected. Many small farmers rely on farmers markets as a valuable part of their total farm operation. For consumers, these markets are an ideal place to purchase fresh, locally grown farm products while being able to interact and learn from the people that grew or raised it.
For nearly a decade, few new farmers have come to sell at the Greensboro Farmer Curbside Market (GFCM), a trend found throughout North Carolina. Young people are not choosing farming as an occupation, whether they come from farming families or are new to the farming lifestyle. Moreover, the average age of farmers for North Carolina is 56 years, similar to the aging trend among farmers in the United States. As a first step, farmers and the farmers market coordinator for the GFCM were interested in having Project Green Leaf (PGL) develop a study to examine what farmers, vendors and the public like and dislike about this particularly long standing market. The data gathered are to be used to sustain and increase farmer’s, vendor’s and the public’s support of the farmers market.
The objectives of this project are to:
1. Provide younger generation and transitioning farmers (farmers looking for alternatives to tobacco and row crops) education on sustainable agriculture practices.
2. Provide younger generation and transitioning farmers the skills and opportunity to sell agricultural products at an established farmers market.
3. Provide participants education on marketing, nutrition, food preparation, preservation, and leadership skills.
4. Increase public access to local, sustainably produced food.