The Farmers Market Training Network Pilot Program is designed to address four areas of need: risk management, business planning, producer development, and structure and unity. Through a competitive process, 10 West Virginia farmers markets will be selected to participate in the Farmers Market Training Network Pilot Program during the 2012 and 2013 market seasons. These markets will attend four training and networking events with other market managers over the two years, will receive assistance from a qualified consultant on a topic of their choosing, and will each be eligible to apply for a mini-grant of up to $1,000 to address their needs.
Invitation to Apply:
West Virginia Farmers Market Training Network
A Pilot Program from the West Virginia Farmers Market Association
Application DEADLINE EXTENDED: May 31, 2012
The West Virginia Farmers Market Association is pleased to announce the launch of an exciting new program to provide training, networking opportunities and technical assistance to farmers markets. Developed in partnership with the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, the West Virginia Community Development Hub and WVU Extension Service, the purpose of the program is to strengthen the long-term viability of farmers markets and the income-earning capacity of their vendors. Funding is provided through a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.
Through a competitive process, 10 West Virginia farmers markets will be selected to participate in the Farmers Market Training Network Pilot Program during the 2012 and 2013 market seasons. Participating markets will attend four training and networking events with other market managers over the two years, will receive assistance from a qualified consultant on a topic of their choosing, and will be eligible to apply for a mini-grant of up to $1,000 to address their needs. This package of resources will be free of charge to the markets selected for the program, provided they commit to the activities of the program and agree to collect data from their markets.
Participating markets will also become part of a statewide learning community and build relationships with other markets so that they can share knowledge and collaborate. Each of the program’s four events will hosted by a different farmers market, allowing participants to explore the range of marketing models in different parts of the state.
The Farmers Market Association has identified four areas of need that are common among West Virginia farmers markets. Applicants must demonstrate their interest in working on a project within one or more of these areas of need:
- Risk Management: Many markets acknowledge the need to improve vendors’ collective understanding of best practices in food safety, liability insurance and risk management (which impact the success of both vendors and markets).
- Business Planning: Many markets desire assistance with business expansion, in areas such as understanding and expanding their customer base, planning for expansions into winter marketing, and developing aggregated or collective marketing strategies. Markets can also link their vendors with business planning and assessment resources as well as consumer data.
- Developing Producers: Many markets fail because of a diminishing number of producers. In their role as business incubators, marketing platforms, trainers and community spaces, farmers markets can do much to revive and educate their own producer base.
- Structure and Unity: Expanding successfully requires a strong, united market organization. Many farmers markets struggle with organizational structure and legal status as well as how to sustain leadership and achieve internal consensus on important decisions, especially when volunteer energy begins to wane after the first few years. Markets need basic tools for how to manage internal relationships while structuring their market organization appropriately.
Farmers markets selected for the Farmers Market Training Program must commit to:
- Participate in the Farmers Market Training Network program from May 2012 through November 2013, or for two full market seasons.
- Send one or more representatives to four farmers market training and networking meetings during 2012-2013.
- Identify their greatest area of need from the four areas listed above, help select a consultant or technical assistance provider to work with them on addressing that need, and complete a project relative to that need.
- Collect and provide sales data during both seasons using a simple sales tracking toolkit provided by the West Virginia Farmers Market Association.
Markets will be selected according to capacity, clarity of need, ability to commit to the program, and geographic spread. Because this program is a pilot, we are limited to including 10 markets in the program — but we will continue to communicate with all applicants about future opportunities.
If your market would like to participate in the program, please complete the short application form in Microsoft Word and email the completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 31. If you have any questions or if computer or internet access is an issue, contact Larry Lower, the West Virginia Farmers Market Association President at (304) 258-3815 to discuss alternative ways of submitting the application. Announcements of selected markets will occur by late May.