While in New Zealand in the past, and on this current trip, there is a very large movement towards keeping Farmers Markets authentic. That simply means only products sold by the producers themselves, or the growers, the ranchers, the fishers, and the brewers only selling what they grow, raise, catch, or brew. Some markets allow reselling of almost anything, and others are pure farmers markets.
I have been reading in trade journals about maybe an over abundance of farm markets, with farmers having to go to more markets and yet making less in sales. Is reverting back to a pure market the answer?
I, being a grower with my own farm market and only selling what I produce, lean towards the pure side.
What are some other views?
P.S. We are having a blast down here attending farm markets with so much to choose from. And testing the wines and rivers teaming with fish.
The point of farmers markets is for consumers to support their regional farms and gain knowledge about agriculture. Farmers need time to be on their farms. Vendors need to be accountable to what they promote and sell. If resellers are needed for variety of products, to keep the market fresh and competetive to draw customers in to keep shopping, the best thing market managers can do to stay true to a markets mission is with vendor signage that indicates the "farm" they support to develop their value-added product. This provides customers with a cross check method so they stay true to supporting who they want for an authentic market experience. Without doing this traceback, for food safety and to tell an ag story about ones product, customers are being deceived and "farmers" markets are at risk.
Producer only markets. In my area of Wisconsin almost EVERY small town market is producer only. There are some crafts, but the requirement is that they be made of local materials. This usually means wool items from sheep farmers, etc.
There is a downside to this though. The local Hmong groups do NOT follow the producer only model. They routinely sell to each other to make sure NONE of them run out of any product. I very mich dispise this. They will also send out scouts around the market to find out what everyone is charging. They then lower their price to be cheaper than everyone else at the market. This has led to people not listing their prices which requires customers to ask. This is ok for established vendors, but really stifles new comers.
In the end I really think producer only markets are the way to go. If reselling is allowed then it is no different from a supermarket/grocery store. I have also found that the markets allow non-producers/arts and crafts are less profitable to the point of not being worth attending.
I think the key factor for many areas isn't the mix of vendors, but the number of markets. In my area, there are too many markets. It seems like every town has one, which would be great if everyone went to a farmers market, but most people don't. So rather than 5 markets doing well, 1 or 2 might do well and the rest don't really have enough customer traffic to justify continuing to be a vendor.
Have been selling at urban farmers markets for over 35 years-its the only way we sell our produce. We have found that when the farmers market has crafts and "events", the crowd does not buy much produce. Is a farmers market for entertainment or to purchase food? It's impossible for people to buy produce when they have a cup of coffee in one hand and a doughnut in the other. When I have done a foot count vs. white bag count, I have found that the purchases are reduced when there are crafts and greatly reduced when there are events. Producer only- what a laugh- at least in whatever market the Southeast Asians ( Hmong) are selling at. Managers prefer to look the other way as their main interest is bringing in money for the owners of the market...FILL EVERY SPACE is their motto. Support local agriculture...NOPE. I wish the University would get these Hmong to do some seminars on how to get 22 bushes of green beans from a 10 foot row! AND how to get all that lovely produce in May! United States farmers are way behind the third world immigrants. Yes, we NEED authenic urban farmers markets. Authentic farmers are the only ones who can educate the American public about where they food comes from-crafters, wholesalers, resellers, musicians-cannot. OK, I'll get off my soap box.
Producer only is what these markets should be. If a vendor runs out of a product, they should refer the customer to a producer that has what they need. The act of buying, then reselling removes them as a producer. If they wish to conduct business in this fashion, they need to set up at a flea market. I'm looking to open a farmer's market, and it will be producers only. There is a large enough share for all to make a living, but farmers(producers) need to support each other and protect the share that they have put their lives into. Honesty is what we base our lives and business on. If the market managers don't support transparity and enforce the market rules, perhaps a true farmers market should open next door. If true producers start to not show up at their market, they will notice the drop in monies collected. If not then , they will when a compeating market opens. Don't lower your standards to meet theirs, make them raise theirs to meet yours. Say something at your market and hold them accountable. If producers do this in-mass, they will listen.