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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Farmer’s Market Manager Listserv Launched

Farm Business Management Update, April - May2007

By Denise Mainville (, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Marketing, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

Currently, more than seventy-five farmers’ markets are located in Virginia, and the number keeps increasing. Consumers seek out farmers’ markets because they offer a variety of high quality, fresh products, as well as an intangible connection to rural communities and tradition that they are nostalgic for. Producers likewise appreciate farmers’ markets because they provide an established infrastructure and customer base for selling their products, enabling the establishment of a sustainable market base and higher revenues. As the number and popularity of farmers’ markets grows, their efficient, productive, and profitable operation becomes ever-more important.

This popularity and growth is a challenge for several reasons, one being that there is no standard “model” for farmers’ markets. In fact, farmers’ markets are very diverse in their design and organizational structures, scope of activities, and management. At the same time, farmers’ market managers tend to keep very busy with the day-to-day management of their farmers’ markets, as well as other responsibilities such as their own farming operations or a full-time job on the side. This makes it harder for farmers’ market managers to communicate with one another and learn from the experiences and viewpoints of their colleagues throughout the Commonwealth. Lacking a convenient way to communicate, many farmers’ market managers are relatively isolated in their management activities.

A step towards resolving this constraint has been the establishment of a Farmers’ Market Manager listserv by Denise Mainville, a Specialist in Virginia Cooperative Extension. Working with Ms. Kimberly Jukes, an undergraduate in Agricultural & Applied Economics who is undertaking a research project on farmers’ markets, Mainville established the listserv after becoming aware of the communication limitations that farmers’ market managers face when she contacted them as part of a research project on specialty crop markets. When surveyed informally about their interest in a listserv, across-the-board farmers’ market managers were enthusiastic. The listserv, established in late March, is intended to provide a forum for communication among farmers’ market managers—to share experiences and ask questions, to teach and to learn, and even for day-to-day communications as simple as “My farmers’ market needs sweet corn vendors!”

If you are interested in being part of the listserv, please contact Ms. Kimberly Jukes ( For questions or further information, please contact Dr. Denise Mainville ( at (540) 231-5774.

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