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Mapping Out Farmers Market Success

Posted by Arthur Neal, AMS Deputy Administrator, Transportation and Marketing Program in Food and Nutrition Farming
May 18, 2016
Crossroads Farmers Market
On market day, Crossroads Farmers Market creates a lively, safe community gathering space, bringing together food growers, makers, and consumers. The market is tied closely to the primarily low-income, mostly immigrant community with 75% of their vendors being immigrants. Photo by Molly M. Peterson

Anticipation is building for the opening of seasonal farmers markets in communities across the country—especially in Takoma Park, MD, at the Crossroads Farmers Market.  With over 1,000 visitors each week and vendors offering 131 different fruits and vegetables, market manager Michelle Dudley has a lot of work to do figuring out the perfect placement of farmers and vendors coming to the market starting June 1.

Thanks to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), she has it all mapped out!

A few years ago, the City of Takoma Park offered the Crossroads Farmers Market a new location by closing Anne Street every Wednesday.  The market organizers wanted to be sure to optimize the new location for the vendors and the customers.  Michelle heard that AMS may be able to help, so she reached out to Fidel Delgado, an architect with AMS. Fidel specializes in wholesale markets and facility design, working with local architects, wholesale markets, farmers markets and food hubs.  With over 20 years of experience helping design markets from Santa Fe, NM to Greenwood, SC, Fidel was ready to offer assistance.

Michelle Dudley
Crossroads Farmers Market manager, Michelle Dudley, uses the layout designed by AMS Architect Fidel Delgado to assign farmer locations each year. Photo by Christie Balch

Fidel visited the new site and worked closely with Michelle to develop the best street market layout. As a result of his technical assistance, the Crossroads Farmers Market sales increased by 75% just in the first year at the new location! Sales have continued to increase. Now each year, Michelle uses the layout designed by Fidel to assign farmers their location in the market.

“We are grateful for Mr. Delgado's assistance and to the USDA for providing this important service,” said Christie Balch, Executive Director of the Crossroads Community Food Network that runs the market. “I'm so impressed with the great work USDA is doing.”

In addition to Fidel’s architectural expertise, AMS has a team of experts that can provide other insights and support to local food businesses - from sharing best practices and trends to marketing and resource guides to support through grant dollars. At AMS, and across USDA, we will continue to support these innovations and partnerships to address the challenges to increase access to fresh, local food while providing marketing opportunities to farmers, ranchers and local food businesses.

Under this Administration, USDA has invested more than $1 billion in over 40,000 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects.  These activities contribute to USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) initiative, which coordinates efforts across USDA to support local and regional food systems. Our recently-revamped website provides USDA resources for every point in the local food supply chain, including grants, loans, and other instructional guides.

Additionally, the KYF2 Compass maps local and regional food system investments across the country.  More information on how USDA investments are connecting producers with consumers and expanding rural economic opportunities is available in Chapter IV of USDA Results on Medium.

Rosa Linares
Rosa Linares is one of the many immigrant vendors making a successful living through the Crossroads Farmers Market, selling familiar, traditional vegetables and plants to customers originally from Central American countries like El Salvador and Guatemala. Photo by Molly M. Peterson
Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition Farming