Farmers' Market Managers/Promoters
Exploring this Job
The best way to learn more about the farmers' market management field is to directly talk to a manager. You can find a market near you by visiting the USDA's Farmers' Market Directory (https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets) and typing in your zip code. Most farmers' markets have their own Web sites, so be sure to browse through them and find the hours of operation. When you visit the market, be sure to talk with farmers and market employees. Ask them what their work entails, what's involved in participating in the farmers' market, and if the market manager is onsite and available to chat. Trade publications and books about the farmers' market business will give you further insight and understanding of the various facets of this type of work. For example, the Farmers Market Coalition's digital newsletter, The Market Beet, provides information on best practices and the industry in general. Visit https://farmersmarketcoalition.org/education/newsletter to read past issues. You can also find numerous books targeted at farmers' marketing by visiting the Books for Farmers' Markets Web site, http://www.farmersmarketonline.com/a/farmersmarketbooks.htm.
You can also learn a great deal about farmers' markets and see if this work interests you by reading the University of California's Farmers' Market Management Series publications, which are published through the school's Small Farm Program. Titles include Starting a New Farmers' Market, Management Skills for Market Managers, and Growing Your Farmers' Market. Visit http://sfp.ucdavis.edu/farmers_market for more information.
Farmers' market managers/promoters oversee markets in which farmers sell their products to consumers. Because farming is seasonal, more than two-thirds of all managers work for markets that are set up in temporary facilities. According to a survey by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), farmers' markets average 48,857 square feet in size, which is about the size of a medium-sized retail grocery store. The smallest farmers' market may be 20 square feet, and the largest might be 3.4 million square feet.
As with most management positions in other industries, farmers' market managers are responsible for a variety of tasks. The vending stalls need to be filled with farmers, so managers work closely with farmers, meeting with them to promote the market, field their questions, and negotiate the terms for vending. They set up contracts, vending sites, and schedules. They also hire staff and volunteers, and manage and oversee their work. Another big part of the job is customer relations. Many management positions require previous experience in handling customers. This means not only addressing questions and concerns while on-site at the market, but responding to consumers' e-mails and phone calls when working in the office.
The Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association describes the job requirements for a market manager as follows: making sure the market operates in compliance with state law, health regulations, and association rules and regulations; overseeing the set-up, operation, cleanliness, and shutdown of the market; collecting payment from farmers at the end of each market day; updating business logs and reports, and making bank deposits; setting up and running a market information booth to address customers' questions; and assisting in scheduling and hosting farmers' market events.
A farmers' market manager/promoter is also responsible for advertising and marketing the market to attract consumers. He or she may create the ads and flyers, or hire an artist or graphic designer to create promotions for newspapers and magazines, as well as a Web designer to work on the market's Web site. The manager/promoter also spreads word about the market by networking and building relationships with businesses located within the community where the farmers' market is located.