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Diversifying Farmers Markets: Expanding the Potential of State and Regional Farmers Market Associations

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Building upon prior research on diversity in public markets and with continued support from the Ford and W.K. Kellogg Foundations, in 2005 Project for Public Spaces developed a national funding program for public markets in low- and moderate-income communities. The goal of the three-year, $3-million grant program was to strategically support markets, market networks and state market associations in broadening their social and economic impacts in their communities, while simultaneously improving their internal economic sustainability.

As existing farmers markets proliferate, there was an evident and increasing need for support services in marketing, regulations, governance, and advocacy—so that farmers markets are run effectively as businesses, while serving their social and community goals. Unfortunately, when Project for Public Spaces conducted a survey of all state-level farmers market associations in 2006, the results showed that, if a state had an association at all, it was largely underfunded and had a very narrow range of activities and programs. With these challenges in mind, Project for Public Spaces, with the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, provided funding in 2006 to form or build the capacity of four state farmers market associations under its Diversifying Public Markets and Farmers Markets grant program.

This report begins with an overview of state farmers market associations, and presents the lessons learned from this grant program. Conclusions are presented discussing future opportunities for supporting and expanding state and regional farmers markets associations.

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