If you have a large group of people in your area who would like to eat healthily, it’s a really good idea to set up a local organic farmer’s market nearby. Not only do you cut the carbon footprint for yourself and others, but you also create a community social event supporting everyone’s health.
There is actually a lot that goes into setting up one of these markets, and you have to be aware of what you’re taking on before you start. From event public liability insurance to organic certification, the admin involved is significant but very rewarding.
The first item to attend to is to round up potentially interested organizations.
Find Out Potential Participants
Your initial step is to go around the community asking who would want to be involved. Interested parties may be:
- Local farmers
- Planning offices
- Garden clubs
- Local Chamber of Commerce
- Department of Agriculture
Browse online and you’re bound to find other community groups that you could contact as well.
Look for sources of funding—even through promises off advertising.
Now create a committee from these interested parties.
The second step is to look at your idea of a farmer’s market objectively. Research both potential customers and possible sites:
- What age group would your customers be?
- What are their interests?
- Would they be interested in organic foods and products?
- Establish when they like to shop as well.
You also need to survey the farmers, and consider:
- Are they already involved in markets?
- What produce can they sell?
- Quantities that would be available
Based on the above results, decide on a venue that will be advantageous to both farmers and customers—especially when farmers come with big trailers.
You now need to make some firm decisions. Know what would be valuable to the vision but don’t quibble over unnecessary small details with your committee.
Where exactly you’ll host your market is the most important decision:
- It needs to be in a venue that won’t be too muddy if it rains, nor too hot if the sun is scorching. Ideally, it should have shade if outside.
- It must have disabled access.
- There must be water for washing produce, and it’s ideal to have some form of bathroom facilities.
- It’s best to have access to public transport nearby.
What to Offer for Sale
The following decision deals with what you will allow for the sale, and how you’ll certify they’re organic. Will it include meat and fish products? Can products from farm goods be sold, such as honey soaps, or cakes from farm ingredients? It’s important to draw the line somewhere, or your market could be taken over by items not related to a farmer’s market, and you’ll lose your niche clientele.
When to Operate
From your market research, you’ll know the best times to sell, for instance, at the end of the month, on a Saturday. One of the most essential things to do is make sure it’s not competing with a major international or local sports event that will be hosted on television. If it does coincide, you can always host a Sport and Craft-Beer tent for those who wish to watch the match.
Running a Farmers Market
It now comes to considerations of how to run the market. You’ll need to ascertain and comply with a number of factors.
You’ll need to find out all the laws related to running a farmer’s market from the local council, and adhere to them.
Draw up a budget of all potential costs involved, and fundraise for these items so you have cash flow before you start getting payments from vendors:
- Hiring the venue
- Payment of staff, including policing, First Aid team and a market manager
- Logistics and equipment for sectioning the site
- Sound Equipment
- A DJ
- Portable toilets
Decide what you will charge the sellers, and perhaps even the buyers for their entry fee. It’s most common for buyers to enter for free, but it’s up to you how many revenue streams you create.
You may require permits to sell produce in certain areas. Enquire at the local council.
Although it’s rare, accidents do happen. It’s best to have insurance on hand to prevent having to fork out a lot of money for something that you couldn’t foresee. It might even be an idea to have insurance to cover the consequences of severe weather events.
It’s always good to have First Aiders on hand at any public event. Even the onset of heatstroke can lead to emergencies, and it’s best to have professionals on hand rather than dealing with it yourself.
Setting up an organic farmer’s market is an exciting venture, and greatly benefits both farmer and consumer. It’s also a wonderful social facilitator and community-builder, so when will you host yours?