Wildwood Growers’ Market – Starting a Local Food System
The Wildwood Growers’ Market project has been extremely successful with support from this grant. The market has been promoted through these funds and additional supplies and equipment purchased. A change in the use of the funds was made in 2011 because the City of Wildwood did not want to make application to receive EBT funds, and the machine and service was not needed. The remainder of the grant funds were directed to promotional activities. An extension was received as well, making the end date for the grant June 30, 2012.
The market has been operating each Saturday since October 24, 2009. An emphasis on local growers and crafters has set the market apart from others in the area. Getting enough local farmers to participate continues to be a challenge, mostly because of the farming demographic in the area.
1) Small farmers and beginning farmers will be identified and given assistance in developing their business through the partnership of UF/IFAS Sumter County Extension in the Wildwood Growers’ Market.
2) Farmers will have an opportunity to sell produce to many customers through the marketing efforts of the Wildwood Growers’ Market, greatly enhancing their farm viability.
3) Two community charitable organizations each week will be able to profit from food and drink sales at the Wildwood Growers’ Market.
4) Citizens will be able to benefit economically from selling their homemade or homegrown items, creating new small businesses.
The major accomplishment has been to establish the market so that it has become a permanent, year round Growers’ Market. The market was started in October 2009 and the officials at the City of Wildwood gave organizers a trial period of 6 months. After that time the Wildwood City Council voted to continue to support the market as a year round weekly market.
Five local growers who have attended classes through the UF/IFAS Sumter County Extension office either attended the market weekly or seasonally during 2011.
Community groups have used the market as a venue to connect with the local citizens. Churches, Little League, the Health Department are a few examples of organizations who have taken part in this weekly community event.
The market has continued even though summer and winter months are slow due to inclimate weather. The level of participation by vendors as remained steady with an average vendor attendance of 30 per week.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
A survey was conducted of the vendors and the objective of the survey was to determine how many of the vendors started a new business as a result of the market, and how many had increased income. Educational Methods: Thirty-eight vendors were sent an online or paper survey and twenty were returned. Results: 95% (n=20) of the vendors responding were satisfied with the number and type of customers visiting their booths. 35% (n=20) indicated that their business was created as a result of this new market. In addition, 15% (n=20) had the business but didn’t have a venue for selling before this market was open. 20% (n=20) of the vendors also sell at other farmers markets or another location such as farm stands. Overall, 50% (n=20) of the vendors responding either started their business just for the market or have been able to expand. 84% of respondents indicated that they had gained financially from attending the market. In addition, other benefits were mentioned such as networking, getting the product out there better than on-farm or internet sales, and the “development of community unity”.
During 2011 several surveys were conducted at the market to determine the best marketing methods and also get an estimate of consumer spending at the market. One day 165 people responded to the survey that they planned to spend between $1537 and $2360. Approximately half of the market patrons were surveyed that day.
City of Wildwood
100 N. Main St.
Wildwood, FL 34785
Office Phone: 3523301330