[Market-farming] other food marketing methods

KAKerby at aol.com KAKerby at aol.com
Fri May 4 00:04:11 EDT 2012

As followup to my previous email, here are the rest of the terms we were  
discussing on the other list, and a suggested definition for each.  Again,  I 
welcome folks to make comments/suggestions for improvement.
Kathryn Kerby
Snohomish, WA
Ruminations - essays on the farming life at  frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html
Food Hub
A food hub is a relatively new concept in the food access  arena.  A hub is 
any formal or informal method, either physical or  electronic, which allows 
farmers to connect with buyers.  Many food hubs  are being arranged by 
nonprofit groups and local agencies, to make those local  and regional 
connections easier.  One unique aspect of many food hubs is  the participation of 
buyer agencies which farmers might not otherwise have  access to, such as 
schools, hospitals, restaurants, prisons and other business  or government buyer 
entities.  The food hub may be as simple as an email  list or website where 
growers and buyers can post what they have available  and/or what they need. 
 It can be as involved as a weekly marketplace  attended by multiple buyers 
and vendors, or a seasonal conference where buyers  and/or farmers attend 
workshops learning about the practices, opportunities and  challenges faced 
by each party, as well as government regulations and/or  programs which 
impact those transactions.

Farmers Market
A farmers’ market has once again become a relatively  common event in 
countless neighborhoods across the country.  But some  consumers are still not 
sure what will and will not be available at such  markets.  Grocery stores are 
also opening their own “farmers market”  sections which can confuse the 
situation even further.  While any given  farmer’s market will be a unique 
entity, most well-respected  farmers  markets share most of the following 
1)  The market features a  weekly gathering of multiple vendors at the same 
time and place each week.   Most markets operate during the growing season, 
but some run all year.  A  few areas are experimenting with dedicated “
winter markets” to supplement  growing season markets.
2)  Many markets stipulate that each vendor grow  or make all or at least a 
majority of their products.  Very few markets  openly invite resellers, but 
some markets are less diligent about checking for  resellers than others.  
Those markets which have established themselves as  among “the best of the 
best” regionally and nationally are very strict in  regards to ensuring their 
vendors actually grow or make everything they  sell.
3)  Many farmers markets feature more than one vendor selling any  given 
type of product - produce, meats, wines, honey, eggs, etc - but most  markets 
will put a cap on how many vendors can sell any given type of  product.  
This balance helps provide variety while also ensuring that  shoppers have a 
choice for any given product.  
4)  Many markets  will also set informal minimum pricing standards, such 
that one vendor cannot  come in with a glut of product, and undersell other 
vendors with the same  product.
5)  Many vendors selling at market will harvest their produce  mere hours 
prior to market, to help ensure absolute freshness.  Other  products, such as 
meats, cheeses, honey and canned products, will have been  harvested, 
formed, and/or bottled some weeks prior, depending on the  product.
6)  Market vendor booths may be manned either by the farmer, or  a farmer’s 
employee.  While many farmers feel compelled to man the booth to  ensure 
that customers have access to the actual grower, not all farmers can  cover 
the booth and their daily farming activities at the same time.  So  some 
farmers will hire staff specifically to man the market booth.  If an  employee is 
manning the booth, that employee often has a fair amount of  knowledge 
about the operation of the farm in question.  

Food Delivery Service
Food delivery services can be a part of many  different types of food 
businesses.  Such a delivery service can be a  courtesy service offered by 
individual farms, a core attribute of a food  cooperative or food hub, or a 
profit-making service offered by regular grocery  stores, butchers, bakeriers or 
creameries.  There is enough variety amongst  delivery services around the 
country that no hard-and-fast rules or principles  can be used to describe 

Food Cooperatives, buying clubs and Distributors
Food buying clubs,  food cooperatives and food distributorships are three 
more buying options, but  with a great deal of variety between them.  A 
buying club can be a single  individual or entity working as a liaison between 
farmers and buyers, with the  goal of improving access and/or holding costs 
down by buying in bulk.  The  organizer often works as a volunteer, not 
keeping any portion of a  transaction.  Food cooperatives may be profit or 
non-profit associations  between buyers and/or growers, again for the purpose of 
either improving access  to products or markets, and/or holding prices down by 
buying in bulk.   Non-profit co-ops will keep a portion of each sale, and 
fold that back into the  cooperative to expand the co-op’s offerings or hold 
prices down.  Or, the  co-op may be a for-profit business, but profits would 
be split amongst members  in the form of dividends.  Distributorships are 
harder to define, but are  more typically a for-profit operation where the 
organizing individual or entity  keeps a certain percentage of each 
transaction, simply for the goal of making  profit.  All of these buying options 
feature a certain amount of separation  between the farmer and the buyer, such 
that the former and latter may never  actually meet or even be aware of each 
other’s identity.  In that sense,  many cooperatives, buying clubs and 
distributorships are little more than  wholesalers.
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