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Farmers’ market vendors want access to skills development: study

“The main thing FMAM needs to be doing is providing good value for their members and communicating what they’re doing.”

– KAYE GRANT, RECONNAISSANCE MANAGEMENT CONSULTING GROUP

Focus on vendors’ needs. That’s a key recommendation contained in a new business plan prepared for the recently organized Farmers’ Market Association of Manitoba (FMAM).

FMAM quickly signed up 19 member markets last year, all eager to create an association and a unifying voice for farmers’ markets.

Kaye Grant, a principal with Reconnaissance Management Consulting Group, which has just completed a feasibility study and business plan for FMAM, said vendors need and want training and education in matters such as price setting, improving displays and selling techniques. They also want to know more about the regulatory environment for farmers’ markets.

Grant presented a summary of the business plan during FMAM’s annual general meeting here this month.

“The main thing FMAM needs to be doing is providing good value for their members and communicating what they’re doing,” she said in an interview.

A better way to communicate would be to mail a printed newsletter rather than post it on FMAM’s website as it now does, Grant said. “People want something in their hands.”

Improv ing governance structures and building partnerships with other organizations are other directions proposed for FMAM.

They should consider joining the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, the new national organization Farmers’ Markets Canada and the North American Direct Marketing Association, Grant added.

In all, the plan lays out a lengthy to-do list for a fledgling organization run entirely by a small volunteer board. The FMAM is currently without an executive co-ordinator and is in the process of hiring another, pending availability of funding. Sheri Blaylock resigned from the co-ordinator post at the November meeting.

Pat Herman, a board member, said FMAM needs time to build capacity to do all the things being asked of it, but “we can be very proud of what has already been accomplished.”

Among those accomplishments are the FMAM website (www.manitobafarmersmarkets.ca)and two key reports including this business plan and an economic impact study (Co-operator, Nov. 27, page 18).

Dave Koslowsky, president of the FMAM board and a market vendor at Killarney, said the economic impact study reveals some critically important information and he knows vendors will find it an eye-opener.

“The average sales (income earned) per vendor is $5,000”, he said. “I didn’t know that. I’ve learned something myself.”

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About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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