Why Farmers’ Market Metrics?

Farmers Market Metrics is a system, developed by the Farmers’ Market Coalition, that empowers market operators to tell their market’s story. Streamlined metrics and data collection methods are combined with training resources and a dynamic data entry website to automate analysis and reporting.

The scalable and customizable system builds upon data that market management is already collecting, while facilitating the communication of market impacts to customers, vendors, and funders.

Check out examples of Market Metrics in Action across the country.

Why Adopt Farmers’ Market Metrics?

Data on the farmers’ market industry in California is scarce and spotty at best. We know there are 2,500 farmers supported by over 700 Certified Farmers’ Markets. We don’t know the average number of customers visiting farmers’ markets each year, or the trends in vendor sales across the state. We know that most of the food is local, but we don’t know the average distance that food travels from farm to market, or how many farmers of color the industry supports. Market Metrics attempts to capture this information – both for individual markets and for the statewide network.

Data like this is highly valuable for planning your market, for farmers assessing their direct-marketing strategy, and for farmers’ market customers and supporters to understand the value of farmers’ markets. In California, market manager feedback suggests that customer numbers and farmer sales have seen a steady decline, while supermarkets and other retailers are co-opting the “farmers market” identity. Now more than ever, it’s important to use data-driven messages to demonstrate and advocate for the unique and powerful impact of certified farmers’ markets.

Market Metrics enables farmers’ market managers to automatically and quickly understand the power and potential of their farmers’ markets. The tool provides easy-to-share “widgets” that can be posted to social media accounts, downloaded in a report, or printed as posters for display at market. By adopting Market Metrics, markets across the state contribute to a broader picture of the state of the Certified Farmers’ Market industry in California.

The Alliance is offering Market Metrics subscriptions, free of charge, to 120 California farmers’ markets, in order to support the movement toward a data-driven industry. If you’re interested to learn more, please complete this brief form.

Benefits of adopting Market Metrics:

  • Evaluate your work: demonstrate the impact you have on your community, for farmers and surrounding businesses.
  • Save time on your annual reports: the automatic data analysis means no more struggling with multiple excel documents, charts, and graphs.
  • Tell meaningful stories about your market: social media graphics and a “report card” display the impact of your market.
  • Attract new funding opportunities: Market Metrics aligns with USDA grant criteria and enables you to offer prospective funders specific measurements demonstrating impact.
  • Strengthen the farmers’ market industry: participating in the Metrics project with the CA Alliance of Farmers’ Markets enables us to demonstrate the impact and value of the farmers’ market industry with policy makers and regulators, fostering greater support for our industry.
  • Professional development: developing new skills of data collection, database management, and metrics reporting supports continued professional growth of your staff.
  • Protect the Certified Farmers’ Market label: Market Metrics easily demonstrates the unique contributions of your farmers’ market to farmers, vendors, and the community.

Specialty Crop and Dairy Pricing Data from California Farmers’ Markets

Project Background:

The Ecology Center, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting environmental sustainability and social justice, aims to collaborate with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to address a critical data gap in commodity pricing information from farm direct sales sites. Farm direct Sales Sites are vital for small and mid-sized family farmers of diverse backgrounds that operate using sustainable growing practices. This project aims to collect and analyze pricing data for specialty crops and cow dairy products at farmers’ markets across California in order to bridge this gap and support local small and mid-sized farmers in communicating farm-direct pricing across the state. By aggregating farmers market pricing data for publication, the project will enhance market transparency and contribute to the economic viability of sustainable agriculture practiced by small farmers. By undertaking this project, the EC aims to improve pricing transparency, support local food systems (small and mid-sized farmers), and contribute to the environmental and economic sustainability of farm direct sales sites.

Project Scope:

The Ecology Center (EC)  will engage the California Alliance of Farmers’ Markets (CAFM) to identify 7+ key farm-direct sales regions and subcontract with a diverse selection of 20-25 CA farmers’ markets from these regions to participate in specialty crop and cow dairy pricing data collection. The EC will develop and implement a data collection system customized to the realities of farmers’ markets operations and subcontract with farmers market operators across the state to aggregate high-quality pricing data on common specialty crops and dairy products.  The EC will manage data from subcontractors using a database and compile and submit monthly and annual reports to the USDA AMS. The AMS will provide funding to cover indirect costs,  management,  admin costs subcontractors, and supplies required to successfully implement this project.