Farmers' Market Conference provides tools to improve local businesses
The weather outside may be far from summer-like, but inside the conference rooms at the Kansas Farmers’ Market Conference, there was energy and anticipation for the coming growing season.
The conference held in Topeka at the Downtown Ramada Hotel and Convention Center Feb. 28 through March 1, sponsored by the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, provided valuable information and tools for market organizers, farmers, vendors and community leaders to improve their local venues.
The Food Safety for Kansas Farmers Market Vendors: Regulations and Best Practices publication by Londa Nwadike of K-State Research and Extension was released at the Kansas Farmers’ Market Conference for all attendees. Publication was produced in partnership between KSRE and KDA. Download a copy of the publication for free at the K-State Research and Extension Bookstore.
“Farmers’ markets play an important role in rural economic growth and offer many benefits to the communities that enjoy the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables and other local products,” Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey said. “From 1987 to 2012, the number of farmers’ markets in Kansas increased from 26 to 118. KDA is excited to partner with the markets and help them be more successful.”
Attendees heard from experts from across Kansas and around the country who offered valuable guidance to improve farmers’ markets in terms of marketing, meeting food safety regulations and programs that are available for growers to utilize to start or expand a food business.
Keynote speakers included Mary Marrow, J.D., Public Health Law Center staff attorney, Don Wambles from the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs, and Annarose Hart, From the Land of Kansas specialist and coordinator of the Central Registration of Kansas Farmers’ Markets.
Market administrators were reminded of the many tools available to them online at www.fromthelandofkansas.com. Among these resources is the application to officially register a Kansas Farmers’ Market, as outlined in the Farmers’ Markets Promotion Act. The Farmers’ Markets Promotion Act was signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013, giving farmers’ markets across Kansas access to marketing and promotion opportunities through From the Land of Kansas, the state agricultural trademark program.
“Farmers’ market” can be defined as a common facility or area where producers or growers gather on a regular, recurring basis to sell fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and other farm products directly to consumers. Registration is opened year round and there is no fee associated with the registration. Registered farmers’ markets will have access to marketing, outreach and advocacy efforts as From the Land of Kansas partners they have the ability to receive benefits from federal grant dollars awarded to the Kansas Department of Agriculture on behalf of Kansas farmers’ markets and limited liability protection as a registered market.
For more information about the Central Registration of Kansas Farmers’ Markets, FromtheLandofKansas.com/farmersmarkets, contact Annarose Hart at Annarose.Hart@kda.ks.gov or 785-296-0362.