MADISON (WKOW)—UW-Madison and the Farmer's Market Coalition are teaming up to examine the impact farmer's markets around the country have on their communities. The three-year study is made possible by a grant from the USDA.
The project will examine nine markets three region: The Chesapeake Bay area, upper Appalachia and The Gulf Coast. The areas were selected, in part, because of the economic diversity.
“What we will hope to do is provide market managers with the tools to examine their own activities,” said Alfonso Morales, associate professor of urban and regional planning at the UW who is leading the study.
The areas of impact the study will focus on are -economic, health, social and ecological.
“The sort of things they might be interested in are the nutritional aspects of their market, are their cook demonstrations at the market?” Morales said. “Do providers at the market sell a lot of organic produce?”
While the study won't specifically look at the Dane County Farmer's Market, the manager of the market, Bill Lubing, says they already examine the impact it's having on the community.
“Most of the resistance we have found, on the previous surveys we have done, has been people will not buy what they're not familiar with,” Lubing said.
So the Dane County market now works to educate people on fresh food preparation-- through a newsletter and social media.The market also has a substantial economic impact, bringing about $20 million to surrounding businesses.
Morales says this is the type of data his study will collect and markets can use as a building block for the development and growth in the future.