Market Mindfulness #6: Leveraging National Farmers Market Week

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In just a few weeks’ time, the 19th National Farmers Market Week will be upon us! This year, NFMW will be celebrated between August 5th-11th, 2018 – so mark your calendars!

Sponsored by the USDA in an attempt to raise awareness about the impact Farmers Markets can have on local communities, NFMW is a time to highlight what it is that makes your Market an important piece of your region. Though participating in NFMW is an exciting opportunity to promote your market, it can also be a daunting task when trying to plan special events and promotions during one of the busiest times of summer.

CFA is here to help make this years NFMW a fun success without the stress. We hope that the information, resources, and tips below will make this a blast, as we ought to enjoy this week!

Why You Should Participate in NFMW

Farmers Markets have become increasingly significant to local communities, having positive effects on both economic and physical health.

Did you know?

  • Growers that sell locally create 10 more jobs per million dollars in revenue than those who sell outside their local markets
  • There are over 8,600 Farmers Markets officially registered with the USDA
  • Over $3-billion was spent at Markets across the country in 2016
  • Over $20-million in SNAP benefits were redeemed at Farmers Markets in 2017

This information, as reported by the FDA, is concrete evidence that your farmers market is having an impact. The local foods movement is working – and that means it’s more important than ever to grow your message and increase the impact in your community. NFMW is the perfect vehicle for this as it gives your Market a national marketing opportunity to tap into and spotlight your towns, cities, and communities.

By the looks of this year’s Farm Bill, the greater awareness we can create for the family farmer and the positive influence they have in their communities, the more success we will have in protecting the positive, healthy change you have worked so hard to create. This year’s NFMW provides an opportunity to sway popular opinion in favor of the Kentucky Farmer, which potentially influences future votes on other farm and food policy issues.

For those who may not yet be familiar with the farm bill, here are some links that can fill you in:

Community Farm Alliance on the Farm Bill (Morning Ag Clips)
2018 Farm Bill and Legislative Principles  (United States Department of Agriculture)
What Is the Farm Bill (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition)
The 2018 Farm Bill (National Association of State Departments of Agriculture)

How To Take Advantage of NFMW

There are many resources provided by the USDA, CFA, and Farmers Market Coalition, with lots of marketing strategies geared at NFMW. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

Make a Proclamation

Work with your local government to make a proclamation designating August 5th -11th officially Farmers Market Week in your town. Invite the mayor or other city officials to attend the Market and publicize the event through local news outlets, newspapers, radio stations, etc. Attract attention to your Market through an official ceremony and event.

Courtesy the Farmers Market Coalition, you can find templates for inviting elected officials to your Farmers Market as well as a template for declaring Farmers Market Week in your locality. There is also a 5 part video series on how to communicate with local government and elected officials! This could be a useful resource beyond NFMW.

Plan a Special Market

Make this market different than the rest of your Markets. Highlight what it is that makes your market special to the community. Plan special events, invite local musicians to perform, or plan fun kids activities. You could hold giveaways, raffles, and even market vouchers or coupons to be used during NFMW.  Some markets have tasting competitions, such as jams and salsas for the public. The USDA has farmers market coloring pages available on its website.

Following CFA’s model, you could create a Thank a Farmer Station, where children and adults can color or write a sweet message for their favorite local farmer.

There are many ways to make this market stand out and taking advantage of local history and culture can also be really useful.

Promote Promote Promote

Hopefully by now you have several activity ideas, visions of piles of produce and local value added products, and maybe even have a drafted letter requesting the Mayor’s attendance for a photo-op. These ideas are all great – but how do you make sure the community will show up in support? Marketing and promotion.

Funding is often limited for most Markets, but there are some simple, low-cost things you can do to drive up interest!

  • start a NFMW countdown on social media pages highlighting your local farmers and vendors (complete with eye-catching pictures and memorable descriptions)
  • recruit an NFMW Promotion Street Team and have key market/community leaders use their social media networks to share and hype up your event
  • create fun hashtags that you and community members can use to create some buzz, as well as the hashtags #KYFarmersMarketWeek and #NationalFarmersMarketWeek
  • partner with a local food/farm business and have them sponsor a table at your NFMW event in exchange for promoting your special market day in their store
  • if you applied for and received the CFA Marketing Mini Grant, this would be the perfect time to use those funds to increase visibility to your Farmers Market

NFMW is an opportunity for you and your market to highlight the importance of your work within your local community, while spreading awareness of your farmers’ hard work and dedication to the local food system. Farmers, maybe like you or I, work and plan year-round to fulfill a life’s promise to the land; NFMW is a great opportunity to give those dedicated farmers the spotlight and love they have so earned. While we work to spread our own message, we also give the public a chance to show their support to the farmers their dinner tables depend on.

Ultimately, an effective NFMW across Kentucky and the nation will result in increased sales for our KY farmers, increased awareness of local food systems, and ultimately a healthier state for generations to come.

 

More Helpful Links and Resources

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service offers a plethora of free marketing materials including fonts and poster templates that can be customized to your specific market. They have templates that are perfect for creating buttons, stickers or refrigerator style magnets, as well as ideas for social media posts and physical posters.

The Farmers Market Coalition was fundamental in the formation of NFMW and is one of the most useful resources you’ll find. From the link above, you can find a lot of useful material and data that will be important in your NFMW plans, and has also been used in the creation of this blog post. There are infographics, marketing images, NFMW branding, and countless demonstrations and tutorials.  FMC has put in a lot of work, along with the USDA, to create a successful National Farmers Market Week.

Community Farm Alliance’s branding webinar, which featured  branding and marketing professional Natalie Biesel, can help you craft the message you want to project during this year’s NFMW. As well as being useful during that special week in August, the information in this webinar will be useful in day-to-day operations of your farmers market.