Institutions and other buyers increasingly want to provide local food to their customers, as indicated in the 2015 Farm to School Census and surveys of MN rural grocers.
At the same time, small farmers struggle to expand their markets. While farmers’ markets provide a good outlet for sales, most farmers have excess produce at the end of market. Others would grow more produce if they had ready markets.
The needs and requirements don’t line up nicely. Small producers can’t supply enough to larger buyers.
Buyers don’t have the time or expertise to set up efficient systems to source local product.
What is needed is an aggregator that can pool enough local produce to supply wholesale buyers. Food hubs are one example, but most require significant capital investments for infrastructure and operating expenses.
Aggregation by a farmers’ market is a low-cost approach to address these challenges and requires limited infrastructure and staff.
This project is funded by a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
Expanding Produce Sales through Farmers’ Market Aggregation
Jan Joannides, Renewing the Countryside
Renewing the Countryside, in partnership with the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association (MFMA) and the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) have collaborated on this project, building on an innovative program that was piloted at the Wabasha County Farmers’ Market in 2016.