Cultivating Connections: Strengthening Sustainable Agriculture through Statewide Farmers Market Manager Conferences and Regional Networking Gatherings

Project Overview

EDS24-064
Project Type: Education Only
Funds awarded in 2024: $49,133.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipients: North Carolina Farmers Market Network; NC State Extension; Carolina Farm Stewardship Association; Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project; Carrboro Farmers Market; Cobblestone Farmers Market; Mountain Wise; Carteret Local Food Network; Durham Farmers Market; Farmers Market Management Services; Leroy James Farmers Market
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Nora Rodli
North Carolina Farmers Market Network

Commodities

No commodities identified

Practices

No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

The proposed sustainable
agriculture education grant aims to foster the growth and success
of farmers markets in North Carolina, recognizing their vital
role as market channels for local farmers. Over a two-year
period, this project seeks to organize a flagship statewide
farmers market manager conference and regional networking
gatherings, with the overarching goal of equipping market
managers with the knowledge and skills needed to develop and
sustain thriving farmers markets. By providing these educational
opportunities, the project aims to enhance the capacity of
farmers market managers to effectively manage their markets,
create thriving market places for vendors, enhance customer
experiences, and implement practices that promote sustainability
and inclusiveness.

The statewide farmers market
manager conference will serve as a flagship event, bringing
together market managers from across North Carolina to exchange
ideas, best practices, and practical knowledge. Experts and
practitioners in sustainable agriculture and farmers market
management will deliver talks, present case studies, and
facilitate interactive workshops. Conference participants will
gain insights into emerging trends in the field, explore
innovative marketing strategies, and learn about sustainable
agricultural practices that can be integrated into and promoted
at farmers markets. The conference will also provide a platform
for networking, fostering collaboration among market managers,
and facilitating the sharing of experiences and
challenges.

In addition to the statewide
conference, the grant proposal includes a series of regional
networking gatherings held throughout the state. These gatherings
will offer an opportunity for market managers within specific
geographic areas to come together, exchange ideas, and build
supportive relationships. Led by established regional
representatives on the NCFMN board, the regional gatherings will
feature targeted workshops and discussions tailored to address
the unique needs and challenges faced by market managers
operating in different regions of North Carolina. Topics covered
may include effective community outreach, managing diverse vendor
populations, navigating regulatory frameworks, and implementing
sustainable practices such as waste reduction.

By investing in the professional
development of farmers market managers, this grant proposal aims
to create a ripple effect that positively impacts the entire
local food system in North Carolina. Equipped with enhanced
skills and knowledge, market managers will be better equipped to
support local farmers, improve market viability, and create more
inclusive and sustainable market environments. The educational
initiatives proposed in this grant will not only empower market
managers, but also contribute to the overall resilience and
economic vitality of farming communities throughout the
state.

This proposal seeks to strengthen
farmers markets in North Carolina by providing a statewide
farmers market manager conference and regional networking
gatherings to expand on virtual trainings that have been offered
since March 2020. These activities will enable market managers to
gain valuable knowledge, share experiences, and build networks,
ultimately enhancing the capacity of farmers markets to serve as
critical market channels for local farmers. Through these
educational opportunities, the project aims to promote
sustainability, innovation, and resilience within the local food
system, fostering a thriving agricultural economy and healthier
communities in North Carolina.

Project objectives from proposal:

  1. Conduct a statewide farmers
    market conference for farmers market managers to address
    current networking and professional development
    needs.
  2. Hold five regional
    mini-conferences to provide place-based connections and
    training.
  3. Develop an online resource
    library for market managers.
  4. Continue efforts to gather
    data on impacts of farmers markets and training needs of market
    managers across the state.

 

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.