MEASURING VALUE IN YOUR LOCAL FOOD SYSTEM: FARMERS MARKETS
R.A. Kluson, UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, Sarasota, FL
Situation: Farmers markets are growing in number across the country and Florida, including Sarasota County with 9 active ones. The value of farmers markets needs to be documented for their continued promotion in order to provide direct marketing opportunities to farmers and food entrepreneurs for local food system development. Methods: To this end, economic studies were conducted to document the total economic value of selected farmers markets. These studies occurred at the Venice and Englewood farmers markets of Sarasota County. The methodology used, i.e., Sticky Economic Evaluation Device (S.E.E.D.), was developed by the Economics Institute at Loyola University of New Orleans. It is an interview survey approach to measuring the total economic impacts of farmers markets based on shopper purchases from venders and their indirect multiplier economic impacts to the local economy. It incorporates the unique characteristics of farmers markets in the analyses. The survey and analysis tools are made available free online by the organization Marketumbrella (http://www.marketumbrella.org/). Results: The results demonstrated significant economic benefits at the two locations. For example, at Venice the total annual economic impact was $8,803,565.00; $1,698,882.00 in vender gross sales; $2,725,020.00 in local business sales; and $177,126.00 in tax revenues. And at Englewood the total annual economic impact was $19,431,530.00; $5,089,983.00 in vender gross sales; $4,674,604.00 in local business sales; and $327,222.00 in tax revenues. Conclusions: These results provided data for presentations to the local governing bodies of the surveyed farmers markets to increase awareness of their value by decision makers. Very importantly, these results have been cited by the farmers markets managers for continued support of their management needs. Planned future studies at more farmers markets will contribute to increased public awareness of the role of farmers markets and the local food system to meet overall goals of local economic development.
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