Low-Income Community Markets Initiative
Our goal is to expand all aspects of the Farmers’ Market Program including farmers, sales, and market locations. In the past year of our grant, a significant amount of work towards these goals has been accomplished. Our work with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and Penn State Cooperative Extension, in addition to advertisements in farming magazines, resulted in new farmers participating in our Farmers’ Market program this season. To expand the program we also encouraged existing market farmers to participate in additional markets. Early data suggests that this year’s advertising and promotional efforts, which focused on articles in regional and community newspapers, as well as advertisements on radio and in community newspapers, increased sales. This season’s sales increase, as well as the data gathered from a recent survey of farmers’ opinions about our market managers, suggests that incentive based marketing may be a successful tool to develop farmers’ markets.
- Objective 1: Double the number of farmers at farmers’ markets in Norristown, Chester, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in Camden, New Jersey, and create new markets in low- and mixed-income areas.
Objective 2: Increase sales at existing markets by at least 100% over two years and increase total farmers’ market sales in the region to over $1 million.
Objective 3: Field test incentive-based market operating techniques to increase sales and the number of farmers and customers, and support long-term market sustainability.
Objective 1: Since beginning work on this grant, we increased both the number of our markets as well as the number of farmers participating in those markets, and are well on our way to doubling the number of farmers participating in our program and opening five new markets over two years.
Farmer participation in our Farmers’ Market Program increased in the first year of our grant from 24 to 40 farmers. Next season we plan to renew our efforts using practices that proved successful last season as well as new methods we think worth developing.
1) Ads will be placed in Lancaster Farming.
2) We plan to target publications read by farmers, including trade journals such as Lancaster Farming, as well as county newspapers in rural sections of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland with press releases about the benefits of attending farmers’ markets.
3) We plan on encouraging existing farmers to enroll fellow farmers in markets, using cash incentives.
4) In conjunction with Penn State Cooperative Extension, we have developed a display to be taken to winter farmer meetings that will promote farmers’ markets and contain take-away brochures promoting market opportunities. While development of the display was slated for the winter of 2003, discussions about the content of the piece have delayed production until early 2004.
5) Farmers will be solicited through an article published in county Extension newsletters promoting farmers’ markets.
Work with a variety of community groups led to the opening of two new markets this season.
1) Our work with the Fitler Square Improvement Association led to the successful opening of the Fitler Square Farmers’ Market.
2) Our work with the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation led to the successful opening of the West Oak Lane Farmers’ Market.
3) Work with another community organization, the Friends of Carroll Park (who are affiliated with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society), led to the opening of the Carroll Park Farmers’ Market, which unfortunately closed early as a result of insufficient sales.
Additionally our work last season to find new markets laid the groundwork for our efforts in the 2004 season. We continue to work with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society surveying possible sites. We continue to work with several other community groups to open farmers’ markets next year, including the East Parkside Residents Association. We are contacting other food and farming agencies in the region, including the Philadelphia Health Promotions Council, to identify new market opportunities, and we are surveying sites near the 22 schools we work in to identify possible sites.
Objective 2: We developed a targeted promotional strategy for our farmers’ markets.
1) We worked with North, Inc. and the Philadelphia Corporation on Aging, as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, to create a colorful flyer that listed sites where WIC and FMNP vouchers were redeemable. 70,000 were distributed in the southeastern Pennsylvania region.
2) A publicity campaign was developed, with a theme of “There’s no taste like home… grown,” that generated 3 articles in major newspapers about farmers’ markets and locally grown food. Community newspapers in the Philadelphia area published 7 articles on the same subjects. Additionally, Mayor John Street declared July 24, 2003 “Homegrown Food Day” in Philadelphia.
3) 224 radio advertisements were aired on local radio stations to promote specific farmers’ markets locations and locally grown food. On average, each advertisement reached between 12,000-37,000 listeners. Four stations aired the advertisements, Y100 (100.3FM), 103.9 (FM) The Beat, WDAS (105.3FM), and Sunny 104.5 (FM). Each station was chosen because the demographics of their listening audiences were similar to the farmers’ market community demographics.
4) 122,200 newspapers inserts were placed in seven community newspapers promoting locally grown produce. Each community newspaper served a specific farmers’ market community.
5) Print advertisements were placed in 7 community newspapers to promote market openings and reached a total 171,108 readers.
6) Over 1000 market customers were mailed a flyer promoting the opening of the 2003 market season, which contained the schedule for all The Food Trust farmers’ markets.
7) We produced 30 banners that were displayed at markets, each of which pictured colorful fruits and vegetables and market hours.
Based on farmer participation, we project at least a 25% increase in sales in the 2003 season, which means that sales at our existing markets are over $500,000. As our organization manages over 50% of the total outdoor, seasonal farmers’ markets in Philadelphia, we are well on our way towards our goal of increasing total farmers’ market sales in the Philadelphia area to over $1 million dollars.
Based on our successes this year we are researching ways to hone our marketing efforts next season. Early ideas for next season include permanent signage, a larger series of newspaper advertisements, as well as working to get more articles published in regional media about locally grown produce.
Objective 3: An incentive-based marketing system has been established whereby the market manager is to receive a bonus if sales reach an agreed upon target and market farmers express satisfaction with market management. The market manager is to receive a bonus equivalent to 10% of his salary if farmers report sales increases of 50% over the 2002 season. Additionally if the farmers and customers report that the market manager did an excellent job, he is to receive an additional bonus of $500.
Based on the initial responses to a survey sent out regarding farmers’ opinions about Food Trust market managers, our farmers’ appear pleased with market management. Surveys asked farmers to rate market management as being Poor, Fair, Average, Good, or Excellent, in the categories of Courtesy, Responsiveness, Knowledge, Accessibility, and Overall Satisfaction. Currently 85% of responses for all categories fall into the category of either Good or Excellent.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
We expanded our farmers’ market program this season by increasing sales, working with more (40) farmers, and opening two new successful markets in Philadelphia. Work is underway to continue the expansion next season, as new farmers have already expressed interest in attending our markets, and existing farmers appear interested in attending additional markets. A number of potential market sites have been identified as prospects for next season. Our promotional strategy is generating publicity, as articles have been published on farmers’ markets and local produce in a variety of media, including three pieces in major area newspapers; one editorial in the Philadelphia Daily News (circulation 150,734), and two feature pieces in the Philadelphia Inquirer, (circulation 386,890).
PA Department of Agriculture
PA Cooperative Extension, Southeast Region
New Jersey Agricultural Society