- Farm Business Management: farmers' markets/farm stands, market study
- Sustainable Communities: leadership development, sustainability measures
Farmers' markets play an important role within a sustainable agriculture system, connecting community, place, food networks, farmers, and economic development. Since 1994 the number of farmers' markets has grown dramatically, increasing by 490%. However, many farmers' markets fail, and it is not clear why. This proposal addresses this gap in our knowledge. For such an important resource, little is known concerning: How does farmers' market leadership influence factors contributing to success and failure? This research project documents the growth or contraction of farmers' markets in Virginia, uncovers patterns or trends contributing to the success and failure, aligns these findings through seven lenses for analyzing leadership and social enterprises, and disseminates these research findings. The outcomes of this research will provide valuable insights on building sustainable farmers' markets, thus creating more resilience for a sustainable agriculture system. These findings can help inform planning of future resources, such as mobile farmers' markets as well as identify recommendations for farmers' markets in decline. Community stakeholders, local food movements, and small farmers benefit. Understanding how leadership influences farmers' markets will lead to improved profitability of farmers/ranchers and enhance the quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. Although these findings are specific to Virginia, the research may have broader implications for similar geographical regions and states.
As a result of this project, the following will have occurred:
- Documented growth or contraction of Farmers' Markets in Virginia;
- Uncovered patterns or trends in the variables contributing to success or decline of FMs;
- Aligned FM variables with the lenses for analyzing leadership and social enterprises; and
- Built Capacity for future research and practice.