Episode Summary

Put your farmers market downtown and help create a circular economy that is easily accessible to locals and tourists while also creating harmony between established and upcoming businesses.

Prior to the global health pandemic, farmers markets where having a hard time. (5 min read)

Farmers markets stimulate the local economy. And another source (4 min read, 4 min read)

Farmers markets make communities more resilient during catastrophic events. (5 min read)

Make your market a dynamic community place (22 page pdf)

"Farmers markets near me" reached an all-time high in search volume in July 2021. (Google Trends)

Episode Transcript

Hey everyone. I’m Kyle Gulau and on this show, patterns of development, we take less than 10 minutes each week to deconstruct what's going on in real estate, architecture, and urban planing.

We're looking for case studies and examples to consider and discuss with your peers and neighbors. My own personal goal is that I'll build some pattern recognition, and apply some of this experienced thinking in my own backyard.

Speaking of backyard? Did someone say backyard? Spring is here! Well kind of. We had one sunny 50 degree day here in Michigan. Just enough to melt all the snow and remind us we've got 2 more months. But those two months are important.

One of my favorite books, Finite and Infinite by James P. Carse has a quote,  "A successful harvest is not the end of a gardener's existence, but only a phase of it. As any Gardner knows, the vitality of a garden doesn't not end with the seasons harvest..."

Of course implying there's a lot of planning that goes on. And if you're a farmer it's the season for planning. If you live in USDA zone 6, and you've got hoops, you're planting seeds for this years farmers market.

Which is the theme of this podcast. We got there. Farmers markets.

I wanted to take a deeper dive into one particular topic this week. Pre global health pandemic, farmers markets were failing according to NPR. Although the total number of markets grew in the United States from about 2,000 in 1994 to 8,600 in 2019 the number of famers stayed the same. A marketplaces' worst problem is that their market stalls are empty, no one comes, then more market stalls get emptied.

Generally speaking, pre-pandemic, farmers markets were failing because of market saturation. Again this is according to Jodi Helmer and her article published in NPR. The article talks about communities that have multiple farmers markets.

What if your community has 1 farmers market? Generally speaking that's a very good thing for your local economy:

  • Growers selling locally create an estimated 13 jobs per million in revenue. That's the American Journal of alternative agriculture.
  • From 2008 to 2014, Local food sales markets are estimated to have grown from $5b to $11.7b. That's a 100% increase in market share according to USDA
  • Farmers markets spur spending at neighboring businesses. A 2010 study of the Easton Farmers market in Pennsylvania found that 70% of farmers market customers also made a purchase at a downtown businesses.

Local farming and creating an event, not a store, but an event is one of the best marketing moves you can make. This is imminent, it's happening right now, if you don't do it on Saturday you'll miss it. There is a certain scarcity to a farmers market that makes it appealing.

According to the project for public spaces, there are few key elements you need to consider to make your market a dynamic community place:

  • Attract shoppers to a downtown or neighborhood commercial district
  • Provide affordable retailing opportunities for small businesses
  • Help preserve farming or farm land in the region
  • Supply a community with access to health, fresh food
  • Create an inviting, safe and lively public place that attracts a wide ranges of people.

To directly quote the 22 page pdf from project for public spaces,"Historically, markets have always been in or near the center of town. And there is still a need for that today. Ideally your site will be:

In a high-traffic location, easy to walk and bike to, have good transit access and plenty of parking.

A site with existing activity – and the space and potential for more – whether a park or small plaza and/or a site that is adjacent to a busy bus stop, community institution or retail shopping area is often a great place to locate a market. This enables the market to become a key element of a multi-use destination where other activities already take place or could take place.

A location with a strong sense of place already is ideal, however in some cases, a market can help create that place.

Let's recap: Strong sense of place, high traffic, multiple ways to access, a place with existing activity. That sounds like a down town. If you have a down town put your farmers market it there. Make it work, every single dollar you invest will circulate back through the economy.

If you have a downtown, I don't see a case to be made for putting your farmers market on the periphery where your market is the only commercial thing there. Oh? It's in a flood plain. No biggie. Other than business as usual.

Insert kermit the frog meme here. Anyway...anyway...

According to the USDA in an article titled "Location, Location, Location"...I can't help myself...15% of surveyed farmer's market shoppers were tourists. The phrase "farmers market near me" was searched at an all time high during July of 2021 according to Google. Personal aside, we've had people visit us and we go to the farmers market. I visited friends in other cities and we go to their farmers market. It's fun, it's active, it's outside and it really puts the community on display. What is Austin about? What's Tampa about? Denver? Kalamazoo? You really get that pulse and personification of a communities small businesses.

I think that leads us to our patterns of the week:

Put your farmers market downtown and help create a circular economy that is easily accessible to locals and tourists while also creating harmony between established and upcoming businesses.

That's all for this week. Talk to y'all soon.