Since the announcement that the Magnolia Farmers Market would not return next year unless the community was able to raise $20,000, questions have been raised regarding what that money is used for and why it is so expensive to run the Farmers Market.
We got this explanation from Julian O’Reilley, Operations Manager at Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance (NFMA). “Our current conversation with groups and individuals in Magnolia is asking for at least $12,000 to cover projected deficits for the market this year, and significant help to make the market better and more sustainable into the future. If fewer people are willing to step up, but more funds are raised, the NFMA would be able to implement some community-directed changes in the market. Our board will review the funds raised and commitments of volunteer time in February in order to determine if the market will open in 2011.”
O’Reilley says the Magnolia Farmers Market had been slowing growing until it peaked in 2008. It was down 14% in 2009 and 25% in 2010. The average vendor sales per market day are $561, below the $600 per day benchmark for a healthy market. Eight vendors (five of them farmers) dropped out mid-season due to low sales.
Major budget items for the Magnolia market include market day staffing – 9 hours per market day for one on-site manager, staff planning, vendor contracts and outreach, site design and pre-market coordination, banners, signs, website, newsletters, print advertising, site rental paid to the Parks Department, licenses, site insurance, organizational memberships, special event programming and vendor communication.
O’Reilley says that a sustainable Magnolia Farmers Market must bring in a minimum of $30,000 per season in earned income or with a contributed income subsidy. It must have community partners involved in leading or sponsoring kids activities, special events, cooking demos and nonprofit outreach. They are also recommending a more centrally located market with strong ties to the business core or a connection to another event.
The NFMA board will review the funds raised and commitments of volunteer time in February in order to determine if the market will open in 2011.
Nancy Gellos is leading the Magnolia group that wants to save the market. You can contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a fundraiser for the market coming up at Dish it up!. More info here.