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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Direct Marketing, partners collab to improve farmers market sustainability

Christie Welch
Direct Marketing Specialist

OSU Direct Food & Agricultural Marketing Program Is collaborating with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Grow NY, and the Ohio Farmers Market Network to help farmers markets Improve their sustainability

We see the word “sustainable” being used everywhere these days. It can be found on food packing, farm production methods, and even non-agricultural related businesses are touting that they are sustainable.  But what does that mean for you and your farmers’ market? 

According to USDA’s National Agricultural Library, when searching for the definition of sustainable, (Sustainable Agriculture: Definitions and Terms, 2007) ‘“Sustainable agriculture” was addressed by Congress in the 1990 “Farm Bill” [Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990, Public Law 101-624, Title XVI, Subtitle A, Section 1603 (Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1990}. Sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:

  • satisfy human food and fiber needs;
  • enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends;
  • make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;
  • sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.

These last two bullet points stand out in relation to farmers’ markets.  If our farms are not economically viable, farmers’ markets will suffer.  If the quality of life for farmers and society are not enhanced, we all suffer.  So, how can you ensure that your farmers market is sustainable?

With the rapid pace of change in how consumers are purchasing local food, technology advancements, and the growing use of the terms sustainable and local by larger retailers, how can we maintain the consumers that shop at, and ultimately support, our farmers’ markets and our vendors/producers? To help address this question, the OSU Extension Direct Food & Agricultural Market Program in collaboration with the Ohio Farmers Markets Network is bringing experts to Ohio to learn about the development of a sustainability plan for farmers’ market.

Laura Biasillo, Agricultural Economic Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, and Jessica Douglas, Healthy Exchange Project Manager, Greenmarket of Grow NY, will be coming to Ohio November 11-12 to share the curriculum they developed for New York farmers’ markets.  In addition to information on the development of sustainability plans, they will share insights from lessons learned by working with New York farmers’ markets in the development of their plans.

This two-day workshop is geared toward Ohio farmers market managers who are interested in learning from experts from New York and their peers.  The workshop is designed to be hands-on, so market managers will leave with an action plan they can take back to their vendors and boards to share their plans and finalize the details.

Beth Irons, who has managed a New York farmers’ market for seven years, found the resources very helpful.  “It provided not only the big chunks of information we should include, but also the action steps to complete each of those steps and helped to bring it all together as a cohesive plan,” Irons said in an interview with the New York Farms Market Federation.

To learn more about the November training go to or contact Christie Welch, Direct Marketing Specialist at