Over the past three years, PPS has been working with the Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to develop a national funding initiative around public markets and farmers markets. With initial support from Ford, PPS conducted research that demonstrated how public markets provide both a low-cost entry point for new businesses and a focal point for bringing diverse groups of people together (see Public Markets as a Vehicle for Social Integration and Upward Mobility, 2002).

This research was soon complemented by a grant from Kellogg to explore the role farmers markets play in supporting local food systems (see Public Markets & Community-Based Food Systems: Making Them Work in Lower-Income Neighborhoods, 2003). We found that farmers markets could significantly increase access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in food insecure communities, while increasing opportunities for small and mid-sized farmers. In order to do both in a sustainable way, (i.e. where the market is not continually reliant on outside funding), markets had to create broader partnerships (e.g. with schools, churches, smart growth groups, health care institutions), share operational costs wherever possible, and create dynamic places.

Using these findings as a departure point, and with continued support from Ford, PPS and a diverse group of community development experts and public market operators developed a new paradigm and national funding program for public markets in low- and moderate-income communities. The question we asked was how could public markets broaden the social and economic impacts they have on communities while simultaneously improving their internal economic sustainability? PPS’s public markets research demonstrated that markets have significant broader impacts that could be enhanced through targeted support.

The heart of the new paradigm that emerged is thus a meshing of the operating needs and other goals of the market with its broader impacts on and connections to the surrounding community.

By the close of the project in 2008, PPS had awarded grants to 30 farmers markets, seven market networks and four state/regional market associations.

Click here to access the final report (Kellogg Diversifying Farmers Market Report)

Diversifying Markets Initiative was last modified: March 6th, 2012 by Project for Public Spaces