What Does it Take to be a Farmers' Market Vendor? Find Out at Farm Science Review

August 4, 2009

LONDON, Ohio – There's more to being a vendor at a farmers' market than just selling the products grown on the farm. Learn what it takes to become a successful vendor at Ohio State University's Farm Science Review.

"The number of vendors is increasing at farmers' markets across Ohio with interest in local foods expanding, and many farmers want to know what to do to become a vendor or how to improve an already existing business as a vendor," said Christie Welch, an Ohio State University Extension farmers' market specialist with OSU South Centers at Piketon. "Farmers' markets are a good way of capturing a greater share of the demand by giving consumers easy access to locally grown foods."

Welch will present "Becoming a Vendor at Your Local Farmers' Market," on Sept. 22 at 10 a.m. at the Small Farm Center. Farm Science Review will be held Sept. 22-24 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.

Welch said that everything from marketing to input costs to pricing product all comes into play when participating in a farmers' market.

She encourages producers participating in a farmers' market to use all available resources to promote their products to attract consumers.

"Invest in attractive displays -- brochures, signs, fact sheets. Offer recipes or nutritional information on the products being sold," said Welch. "Recent research indicates that consumers shop at farmers' markets not only for the fresh, local foods, but also because they want to know the person producing the food."

Welch said that producers should also invest in product liability insurance and be aware of the rules and regulations set forth by the Ohio Department of Agriculture when it comes to selling food products at a farmers' market. Producers should also be mindful of the requirements established by their local health department.

Above all, it's important for producers to maintain the quality of their products, said Welch.

"As a producer, be sure to choose a farmers' market that fits with your individual goal, but also meets the needs of the your target customers," said Welch.

Welch will also present, "Resources for Farmers' Market Manager," on Sept. 22 at noon in the Small Farm Center.

Welch said with the current demand for locally grown foods outweighing the availability of farmers' markets or an adequate number of vendors, opportunities abound to launch a new business or seek out vendors to add to an existing farmers' market. One resource is Ohio MarketMaker -- a free Web-based tool that connects businesses in the food supply chain. To learn more, log on to http://ohiomarketmaker.com. Look for the Ohio MarketMaker display at the Small Farm Center during Farm Science Review.

Other topics being covered at the Small Farm Center during the Review include blueberry production, grants and loans for farm operations, bioenergy, managing on-farm nutrients, starting a greenhouse business, aquaculture opportunities, starting a managed grazing operation, using high tunnels, plasticulture strawberries and starting and maintaining a small sheep flock.

For a complete agenda, log on to http://fsr.osu.edu.

Farm Science Review is sponsored by the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. It attracts upwards of 140,000 visitors from all over the country and Canada, who come for three days to peruse 4,000 product lines from 600 commercial exhibitors, and learn the latest in agricultural research, conservation, family and nutrition, and gardening and landscape.

Tickets are $8 at the gate or $5 in advance when purchased from county offices of OSU Extension or participating agribusinesses. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 22-23 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24.

For more information, log on to http://fsr.osu.edu. Farm Science Review is also on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/OhioStateFSR), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/FarmScienceReview), and Ning (http://fsrosu.ning.com).

Author(s): 
Candace Pollock
Source(s): 
Christie Welch