Organizers of the first farmers market in Tsaile, Arizona, credit their success with a media blitz. The Diné Policy Institute – as part of its work to establish a regional food policy – held three farmers markets during the summer of 2012.  It advertised the first market on radio, in the tribal newspaper, with flyers and by word of mouth, and had nearly 150 people attend to buy foods and other products from local producers.

Farmer’s markets are a growing trend around the country and in Native communities. They range in size and scope from one or two farmers selling their goods to many different types of vendors selling foods, crafts and beverages. Tribally owned farmers markets benefit farmers, community members, tribal economies and the environment.

Producers: 

  • Good entry point for direct marketing
  • Ability to set own, fair price
  • Opportunity to connect with customers, educate about benefits of locally grown foods
  • Learn about customer preferences, build reputation
  • Ability to sell value-added products. 
 

Consumers:

  • Access to locally grown, fresh produce and foods
  • Opportunity to get to know people producing foods
  • Reduced need for drives to far-away grocery stores

Things to consider:

  • Location. High-traffic areas, especially those with foot traffic, do best. Consider tribal offices, schools or youth gathering places, senior centers.
  • Shelter. Increasingly, farmers markets are building permanent or semi-permanent structures for regular events. Or, consider using shelters that already exist near community spaces.
  • Marketing. Advertise with posters and flyers, in the tribal newspaper, on radio and in social media.
  • Cooking demonstrations. If featuring traditional foods, customers may need ideas how to prepare those foods. Partner with chefs or elders to schedule cooking demonstrations featuring seasonal products.
  • Entertainment. Invite a drum group or other performers.
  • Other vendors. Encourage artists, crafters and food vendors to sell their goods. If selling foods, consider rules allowing only healthy snacks and beverages and banning high-sugar drinks.
  • WIC and SNAP payment. Encourage families who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) and Women, Infants and Children support to use their vouchers at the markets. See resources below for a handbook produced by USDA outlining how to accept such payments.