Vermont Farmers Markets Build a Measurement Culture to Benefit Farmers and Rural Places
Vermont continues to inspire and lead in how they make the work of farmers and farmers markets visible and doable, especially in a small, rural state. At last week's annual FM conference, I participated on two data panels and offered a keynote on why data matters. On this return visit, I found the energy and engagement among market leaders at an all time high with impressive ideas about how and what to do with data being shared, thanks in part due to NOFA-VT’s FMPP funded 3-year project on data collection at markets. Brattleboro Winter Market’s Sherry Maher is leading this effort for NOFA-VT and shared some of the data that she has gathered for a decade at her market, along with leaders from the Champlain Islands, Waitsfield, and Middlebury Farmers Markets. At the gross sales workshop, 100% of the markets in the room were collecting sales data from their vendors-let me tell you that is a major shift from years past!
NOFA-VT’s Direct Marketing Coordinator Erin Buckwalter has built the trust with her market leaders to do this kind of work through tactical support, efficient networking, and alway, always thinking about the next step to bring them more help. We’ve had a lot of fun over the past 8 years discussing and debating as we drove to conferences and meetings and on a hundred or more calls, and even trying some of it out too. Truly, the future belongs to the enthusiastic networkers, to those who believe as Wendell Berry does: “We must not outdistance local knowledge and affection, or the capacities of local persons to pay attention to details, to the "minute particulars" only by which, William Blake thought, we can do good to one another.”
Vermont markets pay attention to those particulars under NOFA-VT's leadership.