Farmers' Markets: A Real Opportunity for Michigan Fruit and Vegetable Growers
Preliminary reports on the market net returns (reported market sales minus fixed and variable costs), the effective family hourly rate, and the sales pattern by market were prepared and shared with each participant in May. As reported during follow-up conversations with some farmers, the sales data by market over the season were quite helpful in at least two ways.
– First, these data allowed farmers to review their continued participation in different markets.
-Second, some farmers decided to adapt our costs and returns accounting to set-up their own accounting system to track (for the first time) the costs and returns associated with each of their markets.
-In addition, it became apparent that we needed more information about the sales policies and governance structures of the different farmers markets in which the farmers participated.
-Finally, and given the continued growth in the number of farmers markets around the state, and the demand for farmer-vendors, the data to be reported as a result of this project continue to be relevant for both farmers and farmers market managers.
The specific objectives for this calendar year included:
1) drafting a how-to manual for use by farmers to review their options for including farmers markets as part of their direct marketing strategy;
2) the presentation and discussion of this manual with farmers market managers and with current farmer-vendors.
During 2008, follow-up conversations were held with some of the farmers who participated in the data collection. As a part of these conversations, preliminary data analysis was started. However, both family-related exigencies and some unexpected changes in the availability of student assistance kept the principal investigator from meeting the planned objectives.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Even though the project objectives have not been met, the results of the work undertaken in this project have had some impact.
– First, as noted above, the project activities did contribute to the improved record keeping on the part of some farmers.
-Second, the summary data reports led some farmers to re-evaluate the reasons for participating in numerous markets.
-Third, as a member of the Board of the national Farmers Market Coalition, the project investigator was able to share the approach used in this project and some of the preliminary findings with other FMC Board members. The experience gained in this project is being used in a nationwide discussion of the continued growth in demand for farmer-vendors in farmers markets.
323 Natural Resources Building
Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies (CARRS) Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1222
Office Phone: 5173494272