Setting up a market : the first Step
Kent Farmers' Market Association provides support to market managers and increasingly to stallholders. It is run by volunteers, who are also involved in running their own markets around the County. Our focus is on providing practical support and networking for existing and potential markets and market managers.
We have already gained grants from a variety of sources which we have used to design our website; develop tools for publicity like model brochures and press releases and a PR toolkit; conduct consumer research and hold workshops for managers.
New members and new markets:
This advice for setting-up a market is based on our experience and the lessons learnt by market managers when operating their own markets. It is is available freely to anyone who has an interest in farmers' markets. We have worked with a number of new markets across Kent and sucessfully helped them get underway and would be pleased to discuss what's involved if you are interested in setting up a market in your community.
If a market wants to join the Association, it ideally needs to meet the three criteria set out in our Constitution to be considered an "authentic' farmers' market in Kent.
'Localness' - Kent's Farmers' Markets should predominantly offer produce that is grown,reared, caught or processed from within Kent, Surrey or Sussex. Processed food and drink should contain as much local ingredients as practical. Within thirty-five miles is ideal, but for some, that could include Essex and even Nord Pas De Calais, so, as you can see, we need to be reasonable in how we interpret this!
Fair trade and traceability - Stallholders should be involved in and/or knowledgeable in the production of everything they sell. A sensible guide means products must never be bought from wholesale markets, or any other source where meat, fruit or vegetables cannot be traced back to the farm where it was raised or grown.
Quality and nutrition - Customers really like and value high quality, fresh produce. It should be produced in ways that conserve the environment and respect animal welfare, e.g. free-range. It must comply with all relevant regulatory standards.
We are currently drawing up detailed standards for managers and stallholders to underpin these criteria. In the meantime, markets wishing to join the Association should consider gathering the following basic information to help them set up and operate as an authentic farmers' market:
It should have a constitution/business plan - this doesn't need to be too detailed at the outset; simple and easy to understand is best, but you will need to do a reasonable amount of planning to get your market underway; advice and an example is given on the website, but as a minimum, you should try and set out;
- The aims and objectives of the market;
- How the market will be managed and financed;
- What criteria will be used to select stallholders, and the agreement/ registration form to be used with stallholders
Lead persons/Manager's contact details (these will also be on our website)
Information for the website. This will act as tour instant web site. Promote your market !:
- Description of the market - various examples can be seen on the website
- Market dates, eg day of the week and frequency of market, including if there is an initial trial period and any special arrangements for the
Christmas/New Year period.
- List of stallholders so far recruited and produce that will be available
- Location and Postcode of market (used to link to a Google map to help shoppers find the market)
- Any pictures showing the market, if already available.
The market manager's job description on the website gives a fair indication of the things that should be undertaken to keep the market on a steady course over its initial settling in period. Not all markets will want a permanently designated or paid for manager, this is all down to local circumstances, but the job description highlights the range of activities which need to be maintained on an ongoing basis to ensure the market's long term success, regardless of how those activities are allocated.
We have found that the easiest way for you to look at your venture is to picture what's needed to get the relationships between your shoppers, stallholders and market operations right, and to try to understand what each of these three inter-dependent items will need for you to be successful.
We would like to encourage you seek our advice, or at least speak to your nearest farmers' market manager. We have found that around three short meetings discussions is typically what's needed with us, to get the basics in place. By then you will probably feel quite confident about making that exciting decision on getting a farmers' market underway and bringing its benefits to your community.