Attracting Buyers to the Farmers Market

Dora Ann Hatch is the Agritourism Coordinator for the LSU AgCenter.

This article originally ran in the Ruston Daily Leader on March 8,2011, and you may also view this article at the Fount's web site.

My last news article was devoted to starting and running a farmers market. Today, I want to share some ways that farmers markets and roadside stands can attract consumers.

The most difficult aspect of a farmers market is creating equilibrium between farmers and consumers. Without consumers, farmers become discouraged and without farmers, consumers become discouraged. To create a balance, market managers need to make calls to see which farmers will be at the market selling and then notify consumers through news articles, websites, blogs, Facebook or Twitter about the special products for the market days.

Market managers should constantly be enrolling new farmers into their market. Making farmers aware of the demographics of the area will help the farmer know who their potential consumers are, their socio-economic status and their race/nationality.

Most consumers like a variety of produce and farm products. Organically grown products are occupying more of the grocery shelf space than in previous years. So, make sure some farmers are selling organically grown products.

Value-added products like jam, jelly and honey are popular farmers market items. According to Louisiana law, LA R.S. 40:4.9, home preparers of jellies, preserves, jams, honey, and honeycomb products can sell up to $5,000 of these products made in a home kitchen.

Farmers market consumers also enjoy purchasing herbs, cut flowers and plants. Why not feature a plant of the month or feature an herb of the month and give demonstrations on use.

Consumers enjoy seeing their produce on display too. If you are selling vine-ripe tomatoes, show consumers how beautiful the tomatoes are on the inside by cutting open a tomato for display. Make your displays inviting. Keep your area tidy and clean.

If you have a non-traditional fruit or vegetable for sale, provide a recipe or give tips on how to prepare. If the product is high in certain vitamins, let consumers know. Suggest different preparation methods.

Appeal to different cultural markets. What nationalities or races frequent your market? Mexican families enjoy a variety of peppers. Learn the peppers they use in their dishes and provide them.

Offer entertainment at your market. When young people perform, their parents, grandparents and other relatives follow them. Create a celebration and invite chorus groups, cheerleaders, 4-H Clubs, FFA clubs, etc.

Host a 4-H cookery competition on site. Create your own version of the Food Network’s Iron Chef or have a show-down among cooking vendors like Bobby Flay on Food Network.

Creating excitement and fun at a market will bring in shoppers. Don’t forget, appeal to children. Have a tent with activities. These could include seed planting, composting, propagating, garden art, understanding flower parts, insect identification, wildlife in the garden, bird feeders, etc.

Adults enjoy educational classes too. Invite LSU AgCenter Master Gardeners to give demonstrations on gardening ideas: planting gourds, gourd painting, spraying, insects, flower arrangements, etc.

Inviting health and fitness professionals to speak on good nutrition and exercise is also suggested. Have them relate good health to healthy eating.

Make sure you register your market on Louisiana MarketMaker. Individual farmers and makers of value-added products may also register on this site.

3/1/2011 8:58:03 PM
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