Farmers Market Resources

Please browse these resources (arranged by category). Questions? Suggestions? Contact Erin Buckwalter at (802) 434-4122 x 27.

General Resources

  • Organizing and Maintaining Your Farmers Market — This manual covers a broad range of topics relevant to starting and operating a farmers market in Vermont. It is available in print or as a free download. 
  • Farmers’ Market Coalition Listserv — Do you have questions that you wish you could ask other farmers market managers? Maybe you have a tip you would like to share with other markets. Join hundreds of market coordinators from around the country on this listserv to access a superb networking opportunity
  • Vermont Farmers Market Assocation (VTFMA) listserv — The VTFMA-L is a free listserv, which allows subscribers to post messages to one address and then distributes them to all the subscribers, as well as allows users to search on specific market topics. Visit vtfma.org and sign up in the bottom left corner.
  • Vermont Farmers Market Association Best Practices — In the winter 2012-2013 session, the VTFMA board created a series of best practices documents to guide the work of Vermont farmers markets.  These documents are intended as guides, not standards. The intention of the VTFMA is to promote ideas for marketing, governance, and safety practices that if followed will help your markets thrive. 
  • Farmers Market Conference — NOFA Vermont hosts this daylong conference in March to provide a networking and educational opportunity focused on direct-to-consumer marketing. The target audience of the conference includes producers who sell through CSA programs, farmers markets, and farm stands, and farmers market managers and board members. 
  • University of Vermont's Building Capacity Project — The Building Capacity project provides an integrated program of education and technical assistance to build leadership in Vermont’s nonprofits, community boards and committees, and local commissions.  All of these entities do so much of the work that sustains the quality of life for Vermonters.  Our efforts focus on an innovative virtual toolbox of leadership and capacity skills organized around learning modules delivered online.  We provide entry-level skills that can be completed alone or combined into larger, more in-depth programs.

Insurance and Governance Resources

Perspectives for Better Risk Management (PDF) — Thank you to Jeff Cole of the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets for preparing and sharing this presentation on creating a safer market environment. Understanding risk management and farmers’ market insurance is essential for all market managers, board members, and vendors. 

Insurance for Vermont Farmers Markets and their Vendors (PDF) — This document provides a brief overview of different types of insurance available to farmers’ markets and market vendors. It also has a short list of insurance companies that offer plans for farmers markets and vendors in Vermont.

Board Development 2.0 (PDF) — Thanks to Jim LeFevre of LeFevre & Associates for sharing this powerpoint about building the right board for your market. You will find an overview of the stages of board development and ideas to consider when developing your board.

Working with Your Board of Directors (PDF) — This 'Farmers Market Management Skills' resource produced by the University of California UC Farm Center provides an overiew of different types of boards, the responsibilities of the board of directors, manager's relationship to the board, and strategies for strengthening the board.

Evaluation and Planning Resources

Shared Wisdom: Selling Your Best at Farmers Markets (PDF) – Market Evaluation Form — Prepared by Monika Roth at Cornell Cooperative Extension, this form provides an easy tool for evaluating your market’s accessibility and appearance. This form is included on the Shared Wisdom DVD, which is available at the NOFA-VT bookstore.

Market Business Planning Templates (XLS) — Thanks to Rose Wilson of Rosalie J. Wilson Business Development Services for preparing this tool, which is designed to help track and plan markets’ financial progress.

Rapid Market Assessment (RMA) — RMA is a three part tool designed to give markets a snapshot look at various market characteristics including customer counts, accessibility/appearance of market, and customer preferences. This link contains examples of RMA reports and RMA questions in addition to overviews of how to conduct an RMA. 

Tracking Gross Sales (PDF) — Tracking your market’s cumulative gross sales provides essential information about the success of your market. This tool provides a simple, anonymous method for collecting vendor sales info

Broadening the Market Community

Fostering a Culture of Inclusivity at Your Market —  This fact sheet, created by Wholesome Wave, explores how to ensure that your market is a place where everyone feels welcome.

Supporting Your Farmers Market: A guide for municipalities (PDF) — This brochure outlines ways in which farmers markets benefit communities, and ways that municipatilies can support and improve their local farmers' markets.

Kellogg Diversifying Farmers Market Report (PDF) — This report provides a look at a number of case studies from markets across the country that have used innovative community connections to strengthen the market.

Engaging the Community for Market Success (PDF) — This tool provides easy to use charts detailing different ways to engage more community stakeholders in your market’s success.

SNAP/EBT at Your Farmers Market: Seven Steps to Success (PDF) — From the Project for Public Spaces, this guide explains how and why to set up and promote SNAP/EBT acceptance at farmers' markets.

Promotion and Special Events

Communicating Your Brand and Marketing Message (PDF) — Thanks to Pam Knights of Pam Knights Communications for sharing this powerpoint about creating and communicating your market’s (or farm business’) brand. You will find an overview of marketing materials plus how to use web tools like Facebook and Google.

Marketing Toolkit:  Planning & Measurement Strategies (PDF) — Thanks to Nicole Fenton of Flavor Communications for sharing this powerpoint about planning and measuring your marketing. You will find an overview of marketing strategies, tools such as social media, and ways to evaluate your marketing.

Market Signage Guidelines (PDF) — Effective signage is one of the MOST important tools to hosting a successful farmers’ market. This tool discusses signage best practices and provides examples of excellent farmers market signs from around the state.

Farmers Market Signage Law (PDF) — The 2009 sign law regarding farmers markets that are members of the VTFMA passed by the Vermont State Legislature.

Social Media Tools for Farm Product Marketing — This publication from ATTRA-National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service--can help farmers and ranchers take advantage of the Internet both to sell products and to promote their businesses.  It has tips for getting started with such popular platforms as Facebook and Twitter and strategies for using them effectively. It also discusses blogging, website marketing, and other options, and it uses profiles of a number of operations as examples of what can be done.

How to Host a Youth Vendor DayYouth Vendor Day Flyer, and Youth Vendor Day Press Release Template — Hosting a youth vendor day at your market is a great way to engage a new set of customers.  The links above provide information on how to organize a successful youth vendor day and a flyer that you can use as a template to advertise your event!

Opening Day Press Release Template  

Vendor Resources

2016 Scale Testing Locations - The Consumer Protection Section of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets will be hosting multiple scale inspection events around the state during March and April for anyone who uses scale(s) at farmers’ markets or farm stands to sell produce or other commodities. This testing is required by law, and the Agency would like to encourage producers to take advantage of these testing dates as they will replace the Agency’s annual visits to Vermont farmers’ markets for the same reason.

Growing for Market — A free downloadable issue of the magazine Growing For Market which focuses on improving your market display and sales.

Vendor Regulations and Risk Management — This 1 hour webinar features farmers market consultant Sue Johnson and representatives from the VT Dept of Health, VT Agency of Agriculture.  It covers basic vending regulations and best practices.  

Local Foods Data Tracking Program — The Local Foods Data Tracking Program is a joint effort between the VAAFM (Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets) and USDA- AMS (Agriculture Marketing Services) Market News Reports to collect and aggregate pricing data on a variety of fruit and vegetable crops, as well as a selection of meat and poultry products grown and sold in Vermont.

Pricing Your Farm Products (PDF) — This is a guide to price-setting at farmers markets and beyond. It was developed by India Farmer at the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link with new farmers in mind, but offers great advice to any producer struggling with how to set prices.

How to Start Your Business at a Local Market: A Vendor's Handbook — From The Project for Public Spaces. This handbook provides a clear and concise guide for interested vendors on how to determine what to sell, how to pick a market, manage your business, set up a stall, tips for customer service and attracting repeat customers, and more…

Regulations and Laws

State Regulations for Selling at Farmers Markets —This guide provides an overview of Vermont laws and regulations that all vendors should be familiar with.

State Regulations for Informing Customers about Taxes on Meals and Alcohol — This guide provides an overview of Vermont laws and regulations that all vendors should be familiar with.

Temporary Food Stand Requirements — This guide directs prepared food vendors on safe food handling practices and applicable state laws and regulations.

Regulations on Product Labelling, Weights, and Measurements — This guide is relevant for agricultural vendors selling food by weight and has information about meat labelling.

Risk Management at Vermont Farmers Markets Webinar — In this webinar, Sue Johnson discusses why risk management is important at farmers' markets, common risky practices, and best practices for addressing these issues; Mike Mitchell of the Agency of Agriculture discusses agricultural regulations including weights and measures, labeling, and temperatures; and Elisabeth Wirsing of the Department of Health discusses food handling and regulations at farmers’ markets. Click here to watch a recording of the webinar.

Alcohol Vendor - Any licensed manufacturer of beer, wine or spirits can apply for a Farmers Market permit with Liquor Control.  They would need a signed agreement from the farmers market, spelling out what the vendor will be able to do at the market, as well as a copy of their rules.  There is nothing required of the Farmers Market with Liquor Control.  If the farmers market is held on town property you would need to check to make sure that the Town is ok with alcohol on their property. 

Health Department Guidelines and Regulations

Summer temporary food stand and other vendors are encouraged to apply early for licenses in order to provide enough time to ensure their operations are in compliance.

Health Department Licensing and Regulation:

Temporary Food Stands:

UVM Extension Fact Sheets:

Contact information:

Vermont Department of Health – Food & Lodging Program
108 Cherry Street – P.O. Box 70
Burlington, VT 05402-0070
AHS.VDHFoodandLodging@vermont.gov
802-863-7221

Farmers Market Resources