Webb City, Missouri
In 2007, the Webb City Farmers’ Market began a project to increase the growing knowledge and capacity of its vendors and producers. Webb City, located in rural southwestern Missouri has in recent years experienced an unprecedented growth in Latino and Hmong immigrants. In order to tap into this new customer base, and make them feel more welcome, market organizers wanted to help immigrant vendors become more successful which they hoped would lead to more immigrants shopping at the market.
Many of the market’s immigrant vendors are Hmong and were at a distinct disadvantage because they were unfamiliar with the community’s produce tastes and with the region’s hot and dry climate. To help increase revenue for these vendors, as well as increase the amount and quality of produce being sold, market organizers created a hands-on training and education program with the county extension office and Hmong translators.
Eighty percent of the Hmong vendors participated in the trainings and sales among the Hmong vendors increased anywhere from 200% to 500%.These vendor trainings have had particular success in increasing the market’s social diversity, especially with regard to Hmong residents who buy and/or sell at the market. The number of Hmong vendors grew from five to 10 in one year. And market customers were pleased because the success of the Hmong vendors meant that they had access to higher quality produce.
The vendor trainings were so successful that in 2009 the market added English as a Second Language classes to their curriculum.