'Grow your market' training series coming to WVU Jackson's Mill
More than two dozen people are expected to attend a farmers market marketing and farm production training event at WVU Jackson’s Mill Thursday in Weston.
The West Virginia Farmers Market Association, in partnership with the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, will host the second of three training events.
The day-long event will be held in the Harrison Building.
“We’ve been doing this for a few years, and it’s always been pretty successful,” Association Project Coordinator Erica Gallimore said. “In the past, we’ve had them in the Southern Coalfields around Williamson in Mingo County and one in McDowell County. The trainings are open to anybody, including farmers market vendors and artisans, that would want to come and think they’d get something useful out of it.”
As was during the first training (geared toward small farmers and farmers market managers) at the Country Inn of Berkeley Springs Oct. 24, Gallimore will teach about several topics, including: Access to Capital, Insurance, Social Media, Statewide Branding and Marketing, Product Pricing, and Regulatory Compliance. There will also be a production-related track.
“So far, we have about 25 people that are going to be attending. That’s a pretty good number. And we have a lot of projects coming up that will have training,” Gallimore said. “It really depends on what the markets actually need us to do. We usually ask them what they would like to know more about and that determines where we go and what sort of trainings to have.
We want to make sure people get their money’s worth. If we’re going to make a drive however many hours to get there, we want to make sure that you get everything out of it that you possibly can.”
West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition Executive Director Spencer Moss and WVU Extension Family Nutrition Specialist Kristin McCartney co-wrote and received a three-year grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Farmers Market Promotion Program worth about $460,000 to hold the trainings.
“In the past year, it’s been spent putting together the campaign — recording commercials, finding out what people are interested in seeing,” McCartney said. “We have worked with a variety of farmers markets. Our program is statewide.” The grant runs through Sept. 30, Moss said.
“The idea is that we’ll have these materials for the 2018-19 season to have a sustained image,” Moss said. “The marketing materials are absolutely gorgeous. We got with a West Virginia marketing and design firm, and I can’t wait for the rollout.”
The West Virginia Farmers Market Association has collaborated with many public and private partners — including local farmers markets, agricultural organizations and community members — to bring these foodshed gatherings to fruition.
Flemington’s Falling 4 Ewe Farm Owners Seth and Lacey Lucas just started selling their specialty meat products to consumers in 2016 and plan to attend this week’s training.
“And this year was the first time we attended farmers markets,” Seth said.
He found out about the conference training via Facebook.
“We hope to gain a broader understanding of marketing and gain a little bit better understanding of different processing requirements,” Seth said. “We don’t like to limit ourselves when it comes to training. Any time there’s good training in the region, we try to further our education.”
An upcoming attendee herself, Moss also invited other farmers markets to the training.
Gallimore, who started with the association two years ago as the AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America will be moving back to West Virginia in December, sold produce and also enjoys attending farmers markets.
“I love going to farmers markets. That’s my thing to do on Saturdays with my boyfriend,” Gallimore said. “I like a lot of West Virginia-made products. Honey is one of the biggest staple I always have to have at my house to keep allergies under control.”
Another training will be held at the West Virginia State Fairgrounds in Fairlea, Greenbrier County, Dec. 14. Gallimore predicted at least a trio of training events will also be held in 2018.
These trainings are free for all farmers market vendors, farmers market managers, and farmers market affiliates in West Virginia with an RSVP to the event. RSVPs can be made via the Farmers Market Association Facebook event page, by contacting Gallimore at firstname.lastname@example.org or Carly Stover at email@example.com.
Lunch will also be offered to participants who make reservations. Training begins at 10 a.m. Interested individuals can also visit the Facebook page to learn more about these upcoming events: www.facebook.com/events/266246197228760/ Staff Writer Jonathan Weaver can be reached at (304) 626-1446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.