NERSTRAND, Minn. — MFMA, in collaboration with numerous partners, is offering at no cost the FM360 metrics collection project to farmers’ markets and their vendors in the 20 counties in southeast Minnesota that encompass the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s region. Additionally, vendors who participate will receive a $20 stipend.
“The results of the FM360 metrics collection project will help markets attract more vendors, vendors attract more customers, and provide critically needed information for support organizations and decision makers as we continue to measure and grow a thriving local foodshed,” noted MFMA executive director Kathy Zeman.
“Whereas other ag surveys are funded by tax dollars, accurate surveys researching local foodshed issues unfortunately have to rely on grants and sponsorships,” explained Zeman. “We are proposing that American Rescue Plan Act funds be used to invest in FM360 metrics collection statewide for the long run. If COVID-19 taught us nothing else, it did teach us that short supply chains like farmers to farmers’ markets to customers held strong and fed their local communities when longer supply chains failed during the pandemic. Annual FM360 metrics collection statewide will allow us to finally accurately quantify the economic impact of the 346+ farmers’ markets and 4,000 or so vendors in Minnesota.”
MFMA’s AmeriCorps VISTAs Maeve Mallozzi-Kelly and James Harren are spearheading the effort in SE MN. They are visiting each market and conducting the dot surveys that pertain to customers’ needs at a market. The market managers and the vendors will receive their respective surveys via email, followed up by a phone conversation with Mallozzi-Kelly and Harren as needed. All results are then anonymously analyzed by the University of Minnesota team of Dr. Hikaru Petersen and Joseph Nowak. Each market receives results from their market surveys, and MFMA receives the cumulative results of all the markets.
The standard cost for the 3-part metrics collection (customers, market management, vendors) is $250 per season per market. In 2021, several groups have contributed money to offset this cost for markets: Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Grown, Compeer Financial, SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Program) from Houston, Winona, Brown, Nicollet, Waseca, and Le Sueur Counties, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, Renewing the Countryside, and MFMA.
Markets or vendors needing more information on FM360 metrics collection should contact Maeve Mallozzi-Kelly at MaeveM@smifoundation.org.
— Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association
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