Mar 21, 2013 at 3:04 pm
WAITE PARK, Minn. (KNSI) - People are spending more time and money at their local farmer's market than ever before - and are having a positive impact on other locally-owned businesses.
This is just a bit of the information presented during the annual Minnesota Farmer's Market Association's Spring Conference, held this year at the Waite Park American Legion.
The conference, which drew growers and vendors from every corner of the state, featured new data collected by the organization Minnesota Grown from last season's farmer's market customers. The organization used a customer survey at 57 farmers markets throughout the state, with more than 1,100 participants.
According to presenter Paul Hugunin, Minnesota Grown's program coordinator, the average customer spent $26.00 during a trip to the farmer's market last year, as compared to $9.00 in 1998. Hugunin adds, the average shopper is also visiting an average of four different farmer's market booths during a single trip, as opposed to only one in 1998.
This growth is affecting more than just the farmer's market itself. Statistics also indicate that markets within a downtown community inspire stronger business for other locally-run companies; for every $26 spent at the market, the same shopper is likely to spend that amount or more at another nearby independent business.
Kathy Zeman, Operations Manager for the MN Farmer's Market Association and a farmer's market vendor from the Northfield area, is heartened by all of the information she heard during Minnesota Grown's presentation. She says she's particularly thrilled that more customers cited quality as their number one criteria in selecting their farmer's market.
"It's was amazing to me that price is not one of the highest items in prompting people to go to a particular farmer's market," Zeman says. "It was quality, and locality, and presentation. Such good news."
Zeman says she believes the rise in chemically-treated foods, as well as a push to support local economies, are defintely factors which inspire new business for Farmer's Markets.
"Most of our farmers follow organic models," she says. "These are real vegetables, no pesticides, no herbicides. You can go ahead and eat anything without washing it - they're sustainably raised!"
According to Minnesota Grown's findings, 85% of farmers market shoppers are women. The average shopper is 49, and over 40% of customers have been getting their summertime produce from a neighborhood market for 10 years or more. How
Hugunin's talk wrapped by highlighting the importance of using social media like Facebook and Pinterest for sharing information about farmer's markets.