Sep 1, 2016
Evaluation services available to Michigan farmers’ markets

Growing Hope, based in Ypsilanti, Michigan, is offering evaluation services to farmers’ markets that are members of the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA). MIFMA is an organization that attempts to unify all farmers’ markets across the state by providing networking and educational opportunities.

Growing Hope is an organization with roots tracing back to 1999 when the Perry Learning Garden was established. Back then, the goal was to teach young children about gardening. In 2003, they incorporated as Growing Hope with a mission of helping people improve their lives and communities through gardening and increasing access to healthy food. Amanda Edmonds, Executive Director of Growing Hope says they realized that one of the best ways to ensure everyone has access to fresh, healthy food is through farmers’ markets. Growing Hope founded its Ypsilanti Farmers Market-Downtown in 2006 and now runs two weekly markets and a mobile farm stand. Edmonds reports that they are in process of developing a year-round Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace and micro-food hub.

Growing Hope offers a wide range of services to help markets know how they are doing. They can perform surveys of patrons and vendors, evaluate the market facilitates or even send in secret shoppers to see how guests are treated. They aim to build the market’s capacity to track and evaluate the market themselves when possible – with 11 years of on-the-ground experience doing it – and can help markets create evaluation plans, tools and templates. The general evaluation costs are $50-100 per hour. Edmonds says Growing Hope thinks MIFMA membership is the first step to any market being strong.

Evaluating your farmers’ market will give you ideas on how to boost sales and customer satisfaction. With the help of organizations like Growing Hope, evaluating your market and building your own capacity to evaluate it can be supported by professionals with years of experience. Looking for more information about farmers’ markets? Michigan State University Extension has Community Food Systems educators around the state who can help. Contact us at 1-888-678-3464.

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