Introducing the Farmers Market Coalition

Farmers markets provide a unique opportunity for customers and farmers to engage with each other in a community space and build connections.

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Stands overflowing with an abundance of seasonal produce, colorful food and flower vendors, fresh baked goods, opportunities to see neighbors and chat directly with your farmer all of these are things we love about farmers markets. But how do all of these things come together so smoothly? 

Here at the national Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) we know that farmers markets don’t just happen. Farmers markets are organized events that take the expert knowledge of farmers market operators to coordinate. We are the only national organization dedicated to serving farmers market operators — those organizations, staff and volunteers who manage markets across the country. FMC is a membership-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to working with operators to strengthen farmers markets across the United States so that they can serve as community assets while providing real income opportunities for farmers. Our mission is “to strengthen farmers markets for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and communities.” We do this through advocacy, network facilitation, resource development, and promotion.

We are thrilled to be working in partnership with our friends at Mother Earth News Fair to bring you the latest insights into the world of farmers markets and how you can get more involved with supporting farmers markets in your area. Farmers markets serve as a hub for local food system activity in countless communities across the country and are one of the first platforms for beginning farmers, producers and crafters to sell their products. Farmers markets do not exist simply as an end in and of themselves; they are also a tool — a tool to increase farmer revenue, support sustainable agriculture practitioners, increase fresh food access, grow and sustain small businesses, and bring communities together. We support farmers markets for the wide range of benefits that they provide and the values upon which they are based. 

As the only organization advocating for the needs of farmers market operators at the federal level, FMC supports policies that provide resources to market operators, facilitates the direct connection between farmers and consumers, and increases equity at farmers markets and in the broader food system. We advocate on behalf of farmers markets and provide opportunities for local food system supporters to engage in grassroots advocacy with their representatives. 

As a network facilitator, we recognize that our members — the people out there running markets — are the true experts and that we learn best from each other. We provide virtual opportunities for farmers market operators to build community with each other and share lessons across distances. Our staff are located all over the country, and FMC serves as a central hub from which to locate allies, identify and share best practices, and positively impact public policy pertaining to farmers markets. Throughout the pandemic, FMC has served as the national hub of information for farmers market operators through rapidly changing circumstances.

Our resource development involves working with these experts and allied organizations to conduct research, collect data, and develop best practices into toolkits, webinars, videos and more. Our resource library includes hundreds of resources specifically for those farmers market managers seeking to improve the farmers market in their community. We put special emphasis on data collection at markets, assisting farmers markets that accept SNAP and provide nutrition incentives, and highlighting ways that farmers markets can work to be more accessible financially and physically to act as welcoming spaces for all. 

Throughout the year, FMC works to elevate the role of market operators in the public conversation about farmers markets and to educate about the value of farmers markets and other farm direct outlets, including Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) and farm stands. Farmers markets provide a unique opportunity for customers and farmers to engage with each other in a community space and build connections. Through promotion and media engagement, we seek to shift the conversation around farmers markets towards community change and an understanding of farmers market organizations as drivers of positive collective action. We’re looking forward to sharing more about our work with you, and featuring those farmers market operators who work hard to run farmers markets across the country because, as we know, farmers markets don’t just happen.