Market Mindfulness #10: Tell Your Market’s Story for National Farmers Market Week

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WHAT IS NATIONAL FARMERS MARKET WEEK?

National Farmers Market Week (NFMW) is a week-long celebration of farmers markets sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to raise awareness about the impact farmers markets have on local communities. It’s the perfect week to highlight what makes your market an important part of your community.

WHAT’S YOUR FARMERS MARKET’S STORY?

The story of your farmers market tells customers how visiting your market is a unique shopping experience. Your market has many different story lines but try to focus one way that sets it apart from other food retailers.  Is it a family friendly, community gathering space? Do you want to highlight food accessibility for all?  How about telling how your farmers market impacts your community’s health or local economy?

Once you have your story, talk to customers, farmers and board members to get personal reflections about the theme. Is there a family that regularly comes to the market? A senior who is willing to share how the market gives them access to more fresh produce? A farmer who can share the economic impact of the market on their farm?  You’ll use these vignettes in your advertising, press releases and other promotions for the markets. And don’t forget to snap a few photos of the story tellers.

For more help in creating your farmers market story, check out our webinar “Finding Your Brand” that walks you through the steps of how to differentiate your market from other food retailers.

WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?

You don’t have to deplete your bank account to put on an enjoyable celebration but you certainly want to set up a budget before you launch your plan. Here are some possible things to include in your budget:

  • Employee wages to organize the event
  • Food
  • Music
  • Supplies for activities
  • Advertising
  • Signage

This is a great time to ask a local bank or business to sponsor your event.  In exchange for a donation of money, goods and/or services, you can advertise their business or organization by creating a banner with their name and logo, advertising on your website or giving a shout-out on social media. If sponsorship is new to you, check out our “Creating Community Partners” webinar that will teach you how to build partnerships and sponsorships in your community.

INVITE COMMUNITY LEADERS

Who needs to know your story or what leaders are champions of it? Invite them to your event to engage their support for your market. Think about key elected officials who represent your town or district, business groups like the Chamber of Commerce, public health leaders from your health department, local clinics or local hospital, or food access organizations like your local food bank and your Cooperative Extension staff.

Invite community leaders who are already champions of your market to help you tell your story. Their support of your market may encourage community members to give your market a try. Work with these leaders to reach other leaders who you want to engage in and support your market. For example, your mayor who is supportive of your market may be the perfect person to talk with your state representative about the economic benefits your farmers market brings to the community and why, as an elected official, it is important to support it.

Be ready with some fact sheets about your market to distribute to these leaders and your customers. These will give your champion leaders data to support their story about your market and other leaders and customers the opportunity to understand the depth and breadth of the market. This is where FM Tracks is helpful to pull reports for your market’s SNAP/EBT, Senior and WIC sales numbers. Also include data like annual farmers market sales and number of producers served. If you are illustrating your family friendliness, list activities, programs and/or special events you sponsor. Similarly, if you are focusing on health impacts, list your area’s health challenges and how fresh local food leads to positive health outcomes.  Piktochart  offers free, on-line design software to help you create an infograph, report or poster for a snazzy visual display of your market’s story.  The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) put together a “Farmers Market Facts” sheet with talking points and national data about the impact of farmers markets on a community’s economy, health, soil conservation and farm education.

If you need help getting  emboldened to invite your state or federal legislator, check out this this  video series from the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), “Meeting with Elected Officials About Farmers Markets Week” .

PLAN SPECIAL EVENTS

Think about how you can use the event to more deeply engage your customers in your market’s story. To illustrate the economic impact of farmers market vendors on the community, each vendor could post a flyer that lists the businesses they regularly use to operate their business.  If it’s healthy living you’re illustrating, offer cooking demos, health screenings, a breast feeding booth and other wellness related activities. For a family-friendly story, offer kid friendly activities like a scavenger hunt, face painting, a petting zoo, crafts and/or “Kids Bucks” they can spend at the market.  Day care centers and youth groups may be helpful resources to run child-centered activities.

ENGAGE THE MEDIA

Press Release: Use your local newspaper, radio station, local access cable or T.V. station to get your story out to the greater community at no financial cost to your market.  A press release to several media sources is a quick way to hit a lot of different outlets. The outlets can choose to pick up the story or not but, especially if you’re in a more rural area, local media is often looking for public-interest content. To make it easy, Community Farm Alliance created an easy-to-use, press release template <upload to website and link here> you can modify to fit the needs of your market. Be sure to include the quotes and photos you collected from producers, market leaders or customers when you were crafting your farmers market story!

Op-Ed:  Unlike a general press release where you give general information about your market and the news outlet crafts the details of the final story, writing an op-ed gives you creative control on how your market’s story is told. Like a press release, there is no cost to posting an op-ed but you will be limited on the word count. Contact the editor of your local newspaper to find out specific op-ed requirements.

Advertise:   Although free, a press release or op-ed does not guarantee that your market’s event will be covered. Purchasing an ad from your local news or entertainment outlets is a sure way that your event will be publicized. To get more bang for your buck, Facebook offers affordable advertising which targets the population that is most likely to shop at your market. To help you create an effective ad campaign, CFA will be hosting a webinar on July 8th
“Getting More Bang for Your Buck through Facebook  Advertising”   to give you the tools you need to create an effective ad campaign. After the airing date, the webinar will be recorded and uploaded to our “Monday Market Matters” YouTube channel to view at your convenience.

HOW IS COMMUNITY FARM ALLIANCE SUPPORTING LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS DURING NFMW?

We want National Farmers Market Week to be a smashing success in Kentucky so we are hosting a press event with state agencies and community partners around the state. We will be launching a Facebook ad campaign to direct customers to their nearest Farmers Market Support Program (FMSP) farmers market. We are also hosting CFA Days at some FMSP markets to personally thank farmers for growing our food and customers for supporting their farmers market. Contact your FMSP technical assistant to set up a CFA Day at your market. And, as mentioned above, we created a press release template <upload to website and link here>  and are hosting a FB advertising webinar <register here> to help you create the advertising you need to make your farmers market celebration a success.

OTHER NFMW RESOURCES:

Farmers Market Coalition has created a NFMW resource and template page that will take a lot of the work out of advertising and hosting a NFMW celebration.

The United States Department of Agriculture has created eye-catching graphics that are easy to use. You can use their designs or create some of you own using their ag-related alphabet letters featuring the sights and sounds of farmers markets.

 

Additionally, here is the 2019 National Farmers Market Week Press Release Template

How your farmers market can use the press release:

1] Remove yellow highlights. Here’s a helpful link if you have trouble.

2] Save document as a PDF by clicking “Save as PDF” in the “File” menu.

3] Use it by:

  • Sending it to your local media (newspaper, radio station, local access cable, etc.)
  • Posting it in your market’s newsletter
  • Sharing it with your partner organizations and/or sponsors
  • Sharing it with anyone else that can help you get the word out