Developing viable farmers markets in rural communities: An investigation of vendor performance using objective and subjective valuations
Farmers markets are drawing increasing attention by consumers as a local source of fresh foods; by producers as an alternative marketing opportunity to improve farm sales; and by policy makers concerned about the limited availability of affordable, nutritious foods in low-income, sparsely-populated rural areas. Using unique data collected from customers, vendors, and markets in a rural region of New York State, we develop an empirical model of subjective and objective measures of vendor performance to identify important factors for improved market sustainability. The empirical results suggest four inter-related planning recommendations when considering market and public policy interventions: (1) establishing larger, centrally located markets with public sector contributions, (2) targeting variety in products and vendors, (3) prioritizing attention to marketing and promotion, and (4) reducing cost burdens to underserved, low-income residents. As rural areas are spatially unique, future research across a variety of rural communities and regions will be important to the further development of sound initiatives aimed at improving market performance and access to healthy foods.
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