Strengthening our markets and communities.
A state-wide non-profit organization founded in 2013 by a group of Nebraska Market Managers. The idea started in the winter of 2010 and has grown into an association dedicated to serving markets and vendors around Nebraska.
The Farmers’ Market Association was proposed in 2010 as a way of creating a network that would connect Nebraska farmers markets and managers. The need for such an organization was underscored by a doubling in the number of farmers markets in Nebraska during the past 10 years.
Nebraska Cooperative Development Center hosted an exploratory meeting in central Nebraska, inviting all farmers’ market managers from across the state. The meeting explored the potential of a statewide association and the kinds of programs and services an association could provide its members. These services could include: consumer education; group marketing opportunities; assistance with funding (such as grants and fundraising); market manager training; statewide networking; and how to accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits, and debit and credit cards for payment at farmers markets.
A steering committee was formed and has continued to meet regularly to plan an organizational structure that could be a model for a future association. The committee successfully applied for a Specialty Crop Block Grant from USDA this year to improve food safety in Nebraska’s farmers’ markets. In partnership with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, a series of GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) workshops were held across the state for vendors and market managers. Market managers were provided with food safety tool kits which included educational materials for market customers and marketing ideas.
NCDC awarded the committee a small grant in 2012 to assist it with paying incorporation legal fees, membership recruitment and annual meeting planning. It is anticipated that the committee will complete its work and formally organize the association sometime this fall.