2010 GPVGC Offers an Excellent Farmers Market Track Line-Up
Download the Conference Program and Registration Form
If you've never made it up to St. Joe for the annual Great Plains Vegetable Growers Conference, I highly recommend you consider rectifying this in 2010.
The Great Plains Vegetable Conference (GPVGC) is a three-day event held annually in early January in St. Joseph, Missouri. It serves an expanding audience of small farmers from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and beyond, and caters to a diversity of grower interests and subject matter content, including organic and conventional producers. The conference includes both in-depth, daylong theme oriented workshops and briefer thematic sessions on all aspects of vegetable, plus some fruit and flower, production and marketing.
This year's program should be exceptional.
Three day-long pre-conference workshops on Thursday, January 7 focus on high tunnels, community supported agriculture (CSAs), and growing your farm's profits. (More on these workshops in future posts.)
Over the course of two days, January 8-9, the conference offers growers a multitude of sessions covering topics such as pest and disease management, beginning vegetable production, small fruit and biological beekeeping. (Keep an eye out for future posts highlight several of the sessions and speakers.)
The conference has developed an increasingly strong farmers market track over the past three years and this year we'll have many excellent speakers, including Emporia's Tracey Graham, Garnett's Rosanna Bauman and Manhattan's Dave Heidebrink, and some rather timely session topics.
To recieve email updates from conference organizers, please visit the GPVGC website and click on the link to the right of the conference's logo. The conference program and registration can be dowloaded above.
The Kansas Rural Center received a 2009 USDA Risk Management Agency Community Partnership and Outreach Grant to fund the Growing Your Farm Profits pre-conference workshop and the Farmers Market Track. Thanks RMA!
Here is a sneak peak of the recently finalized Farmers Market Track.
State and Federal Funding Opportunities for Farmers Markets
Mary K. Hendrickson, Ph.D., Extension Associate Professor, University of Missouri Extension
Vetting Your Market's Vendors
The Webb City Farmers Market has some 300 vendor visits/inspections under its belt. The market uses this self-developed tool not only to verify production, but also to alert vendors to food safety issues, to connect vendors willing to teach with those wanting to learn and to gather information for publicizing products and producers.
Organic Without Certification
Marlin Bates, Regional Horticulture Specialist for MU Extension
The National Organic Standard requires that all farms marketing their produce as organic must be certified. An exemption exists for small farms that sell less than $5,000 of organic products annually. Many market growers take appropriate advantage of this exemption. The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture has developed a guide, Small Scale Organics: A Guidebook for the Non-Certified Organic Grower, to assist exempt farmers in assessing their compliance with the Organic Standard. The guide also supplies streamlined tools that can be used by market managers and Extension personnel to document and affirm compliance. The presentation will discuss the issues of exempt organic production and how the guide might be employed to address them.
Farmers Market Communications 2.0: Making sense of electronic outreach tools and social media
Lisa Bralts, Market at the Square Manager (Urbana, IL)
Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, weblogs - you've probably heard about these tools and applications used by millions to keep in touch with their friends and families... but did you know these wonderful (and free!) tools are resources we can use to reach and educate current and potential market patrons? This workshop will help participants understand the leverage these tools provide for markets and producers and why they're important. Participants will also learn how to set up accounts, how to use these tools once accounts have been created, and will see a demonstration of the tools' successful use over two seasons at Market at the Square in Urbana, Illinois.
Creating Connections with your Community: Three markets share their programs and partnerships
Tracey Graham, Emporia Farmers Market Manager (KS)
A market is more than a place to sell and buy great agriculturally-related products. It is a vibrant part of our community. An active and dedicated volunteer corps is critical to the smooth operation of a market while holding costs to a minimum. While vendor fees are used to support basic market costs, the community as a whole can and should be asked to help support market programming through Friends of the Market donations and corporate/organizational sponsorships.
The Community "Webb"
Eileen Nichols, Webb City Farmers Market Manager (MO)
The Webb City Farmers Market reaches out and draws in individuals and organizations through meals, music, fundraising opportunities and a welcoming culture. Known as "the grand central station of area non-profits," the market hosts more than 40 non-profit activities each season.
Billene Nemec, Coordinator for Buy Fresh Buy Local, NE Chapter
Bought it fresh---now how do you prepare it. Giving simple food demonstration at the market plus handouts and tips for market shoppers.
Small Town, Small Market, BIG News
Rosanna Bauman, Garnett Farmers Market (KS)
Is the Buy Local craze coming to the Midwest? No, rural communities are having a Sustainable Renaissance as they return to their roots at last. Organics used to be regarded by the down-home folks as a big city fad, now many are beginning to regard it as a sensible choice. We believe that even small towns in the heart of farm country can support a farmers market as the story of the Garnett Farmers Market proves.
Promoting and Managing Your Farmers' Market
Caroline Todd, Columbia Farmers Market Manager (MO)
There are three top priorities for a farmers' market manager: helping vendors, promoting sales, and creating a happy customer atmosphere. Caroline, Columbia Farmers' Market manager, will present ways to get more customers to your market, get the community involved, find free advertising and set up a successful Saturday morning event.
How to Work a Market
Zaid and Haifa Kurdieh, Norwich Meadows Farm (NY)
Zaid and Haifa share Norwich Meadows Farm's history at farmers markets and how their involvement with markets has evolved over the years. NMF sales grow at a rate of 70-100% per year and the husband and wife team will discuss vital topics such as customer care, new products, and market set-up. With years of experience at eight farmers markets, they will also talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the market scene.
Extending the Market Season with High Tunnels-The Rookie Year
David Heidebrink, Heide-Way Farm (Wakefield, KS)
Dave will share his first-year experiences with growing vegetables in high tunnels. He'll discuss lessons learned, what went well, what didn't, and discuss the advantages of high tunnel production in respect to marketing and season extension to encourage those interested in entering high tunnel production.
The GPVGC Farmer Market Track is partially funded by a USDA Risk Management Agency Grant awarded to the Kansas Rural Center.