Coordinating with Farmer’s Market to Increase Participation in Farm-City Event.
M. Maddox, UF/IFAS Extension, Sumter County, Bushnell, FL, J. S. Strickland, UF/IFAS Extension, Hernando/Sumter County, Brooksville, FL, C. McAvoy, UF/IFAS Extension, Sumter County, Bushnell, FL, K. Taylor, UF/IFAS Extension, Sumter County, Bushnell, FL and E. Jennings, UF/IFAS Extension, Pasco County, Dade, City, FL.
Situation: While Sumter County is primarily rural, it also has the fastest growing town in the United States (The Villages). Meanwhile, the number of farms (1,367) in Sumter County has increased by 63% over the last five years. There are 1,367 farms on 183,246 acres. 1.3% of the 101,620 citizens are farm operators. Objective: To increase the number of Farm-City participants by 50% from year to year and to introduce the farming population to the suburban population. Methods: The target population was The Villages residents. The program execution included 40 exhibitors educating Villages residents about agricultural operations. Through partnerships and having representatives of The Villages Entertainment on the planning committee, dates and times were selected that resulted in the greatest attendance. Results: The event attendance for three years was provided by The Villages Entertainment. At the 2013 event, 250 residents attended the event. The following year attendance was 2,500 and 2015 attracted 5,000 residents to the event. From the initiation of this event to the second year saw a 900% increase in attendance. Between 2014 and 2015 we observed a 100% increase in attendance. The percentage increase from the first year to the most recent is an astounding 1900%. Conclusion: The committee successfully increased attendance each year by partnering with The Villages Entertainment to coincide with the Brownwood Farmer’s Market and other special events.