[Market-farming] Grower Only Farmers Markets

Home Grown Kansas! hgkansas at sbcglobal.net
Wed Jan 24 14:02:18 EST 2007

I am the manager of the Old Town Farmers' Market in Wichita, Kansas.  This market site has been in existence for many years under a variety of management styles - some private some city.  At one time it was the only market in the city and there were no restrictions or rules regarding who could sell.  Warehouse produce began to dominate the market and a group of local producers broke off and opened a market on county land (within the city limits).  Twelve years later this is the larger market in the city.  The Old Town Market is now managed by producers. When our management took over we did not want to pull the rug out from vendors who had been coming for years even though they were warehouse sellers.  We wrote rules that favor the producer in that they have priority for vendor space.  Additionally, if an item is available locally in supply sufficient to meet the customers needs, the warehoused produce is not allowed.  For example, if our growers have tomatoes, NO warehoused
 or resold tomatoes are allowed.  Signage is mandatory at our market - vendor's name and place of origin for produce.  It didn't take customers long to figure out that if a booth was selling produce from Texas, Mexico, Arkansas, Etc., these folks were not local growers.  In the three years since we started managing, nearly all of the warehouse vendors have quit due to slower sales.  We studied several other farmers' market rules to develop rules to suit our market.  Our rules are available online at  http://www.oldtownfarmersmarket.com/New_Vendor_Information_Page.html
  To the person wanting to convince the city about the concept - I would suggest you try to gain management control of the market from the city if possible.  Once we were able to do this, our market started to flourish.  Best wishes.  Pat, www.oldtownfarmersmarket.com 

Alex McGregor <waldenfarm at sprintmail.com> wrote:
  Maybe you should talk to people like the Wiedigers in KY. They had a
similar situation and started a "grower only" market in their area.

Also, there are many successful "grower only" markets around the country. 
Try the state and USDA listings to find them. In our area there's the
Battlefield Farmers Market and the Cotton Mill Farmers market. Battlefield
started as a way to preserve farms through creation of viable markets for
their goods. Cotton Mill is part of a comprehensive, County-wide program
to stop the encroachment of urban and suburban development- to keep their
area the way it is now.

Most market managers are glad to share info- just ask. But, creating a
market takes a lot of work, time and commitment by the farmers. It ain't

Alex McGregor
Walden Farm

> [Original Message]
> From: Allan Balliett 
> You're right! (Man, I still never got any pisole!)
> But this market has outright produce jobbers. Melons in May.
> And the market master stands behind it: We need what people want here 
> all the time to get people in. We need melons here in May for the 
> people who need a melon. Maybe they'll buy some asparagus while they 
> are here."
> The market is right in the middle of town and is always filled with 
> after-church shoppers (a Sunday market)
> I'm looking for some grower-only program, guidelines, and whatno. 
> Something with a track record Something that shows that "Allan 
> Balliett, the local grower" isn't just making up the idea of a 
> 'grower only' market.
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