Howard County Farmers’ Market
HOPE – The farmers’ markets in Nashville, Hope and Washington held their 2016 Market Season Kick-off Meeting at Hempstead Hall in Hope Jan. 26.
The three markets have been working together over the last several years to increase opportunities for local farmers and the January meeting has been held each year to register vendors at the three markets and to plan the season.
More than 100 individuals attended the event which concluded with a local foods tasting for the public.
This year, for the first time, the meeting included a five-hour Farmers’ Market Vendor Training.
The training was added to help growers and other market vendors, who might be very knowledgeable about growing crops, raising bees or preparing cottage food items, but do not necessarily understand how to be successful selling their products at a farmers’ market.
The training included sessions designed for both novice and experienced market vendors.
“Farmers’ Market Vending 101,” given by Howard County Farmers’ Market Co-Manager Debra Bolding, covered concepts especially useful to new farmers’ market vendors, but essential for every vendor.
Howard County Cooperative Extension Agent Sherry Beaty-Sullivan provided information and tools to help growers insure they have an abundant harvest for market in “Planning (and Planting!) for the Market Season.”
Marketing concepts crucial for success were covered by Hope Farmers’ Market Manager Jodi Coffee in “Creating a Farmers’ Market Display that Sells (and Other Marketing Tips!).”
Growers learned about a low-cost drip irrigation system that can save them water, money and time in “Using Drip Tape Irrigation to get through the Market Season” and were given the opportunity to buy equipment at reduced costs. Cooperative Extension Plant Pathologist Dr. Terry Kirkpatrick covered “Common Sense Food Safety Considerations for Farmers’ Market Growers.”
Also, training was provided for vendors who sell to WIC recipients through WIC’s Farmers Market Nutrition program.
In addition to the educational presentations, at the training sessions were a number of exhibitors with resources useful to farmers’ market vendors: NRCS with information about funding available for high tunnels; Farm Credit with financial services for farmers; Farm Bureau with product liability and other insurance important to market vendors; Arkansas Farmers Market Association with information about Farm to School and also about a valuable marketing tool called Market Maker; SAU’s Small Business and Technology with resources for small businesses; Miller County Master Gardeners and the UofA Cooperative Extension with educational guidance and resources for growers, beekeepers and cottage food vendors; local beekeeping associations with information about beekeeping activities in the area; and local farmers’ markets in Texarkana, Nashville, Hope and Old Washington with information about their individual markets and registration.
The training sessions were followed by a general session and local foods tasting open to anyone interested in Farmers’ Markets.
More than 100 individuals attended the event, including at least 47 who participated in the vendor training and more than 70 who attended the local foods tasting.
The training was sponsored by Nashville’s non-profit Community First Wellness through a grant from Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas in partnership with Miller County Master Gardeners.