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Demonstrating value

Vibrant farmers' markets are valuable places. Shoppers regularly identify both the products on sale as well as the great sense of community as key values that attract them.

Market trader members derive their income and employment from attending markets - their economic wellbeing. And as COVID demonstrated, for many of us (shoppers, traders and market staff), markets reduce isolation, increase networks and are vital for social wellbeing. Furthermore, as regular events, farmers' markets are valuable to the towns and suburbs they're located in, drawing in customers and enhancing the shopping activity that supports surrounding businesses.

But how much?

Wellbeing is moving beyond public health discussions and into corporate boardrooms and even national cabinet. It's vitally important to identify, understand and measure its many elements. How many people are employed through small businesses attending a market? How much money flows within the market and into surrounding businesses? How much city spending flows directly back to regional Victorian communities? If local governments support a market, say through installing power to the market site, what kind of return is there on that investment?

A methodology called Social Return on Investment is increasingly being used to understand the holistic values of an activity such as a farmers' market. Markets in many parts of the United States have been using key metrics such as those seen in the image above to help them better understand and share their important role. It's so important that the US Farmers Market Metrics program was developed with support from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers Market Promotion Program. This supports a vibrant, extensive and busy US farmers' market sector and we would welcome similar support from our state and federal governments.

Meantime, at the VFMA we know that one of our key roles is to demonstrate the value of farmers' markets, so we're excited about our metrics project now underway to identify and measure some of our sector's key values. Being developed over the next six months with funding from Regional Development Victoria, this is a digital response to strengthen and position our markets strongly for the future.

We look forward to sharing even more of our many valuable stories with you. As always, thanks for your support and see you at a farmers' market this week!



Connecting you directly with Victorian
accredited farmers' markets
 29 July - 3 August