While some Minneapolis neighborhoods enjoy a bountiful supply of healthy foods, others do not. Mini farmers markets help address this challenge by bringing fresh, locally grown foods into Minneapolis neighborhoods.
In 2006, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) began working with neighborhood-based organizations to launch a set of small farmers markets throughout Minneapolis. Mini Markets are farmers markets that have five or fewer vendors and sell locally grown food, fresh produce and home processed foods.
The markets are hosted and managed by local community organizations and are located at community centers, senior housing facilities, churches, and on busy street corners. Mini farmers markets help increase access to healthy foods, foster a sense of community, provide sales opportunities for small farmers, connect people with the farmers who grow their food, and link low-income residents with farmers markets that accept food assistance.
Prior to the mini farmers market initiative, even the smallest farmers markets had to go through a costly and complex licensing process with the City of Minneapolis to start their market. In response, IATP worked with the City of Minneapolis to develop a simplified process and a less complex licensing requirement.
The license process for this special market category has significantly reduced the time and expense of establishing small farmers markets, enabling community centers and neighborhood organizations to host a market on their own property.
Since the inception of the project in 2006, IATP has provided training, technical assistance, promotional support, evaluation and other services to our network of mini farmers markets. In 2012, IATP transitioned leadership of the mini farmers market network to four community organizations that will serve as network coordinators: Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, Kingfield Farmers Market, West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, and the Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market.
Network coordinators will act as the liaisons between the markets and the City of Minneapolis, provide an "umbrella" service with the State Department of Agriculture so that interested markets can accept Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) coupons, help with technical assistance and troubleshooting throughout the market season, and foster communication among market managers. Each existing market has been assigned to one of the four network coordinators and coordinators may elect to support any new markets at their own discretion.
This manual provides market managers with a guide for establishing and managing their mini farmers market, and we hope that it will inform stakeholders in other communities about the particulars of running very small markets. The manual outlines the process for obtaining a license, scheduling the market, finding vendors, becoming FMNP authorized, promoting the market and understanding vendor responsibilities. Network coordinators can also connect managers with additional resources and materials for running a market successfully.
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