The Farmers Market Management Network of Ohio celebrates National Farmers' Week by highlighting the accomplishments of stand-out markets in Ohio. The Wyoming Avenue Farmers Market is achieving their mission bolstering the local economy, improving community health, and bringing diverse groups of people together through a shared social space.
Wyoming Ave. Farmers' Market is a non-profit, producer-only, volunteer-run business committed to offering local, consumable products to our neighbors. Our Market carries organic and sustainably-raised fruits, vegetables, eggs and meats, and carefully produced cottage products. All products are produced with integrity and transparency. Our customers are locavores and local residents who like to build relationships with people who raise the food they serve to their families.
Wyoming Ave. Farmers’ Market is located in downtown Wyoming, Ohio, at the intersection of Wyoming and Oak Avenues at the Village Green. Our Market hours are 3 pm – 7 pm, Tuesdays, May through October. During the winter months, we operate a pre-order market.
The City of Wyoming is a suburb of Cincinnati. Wyoming is a residential community with a small, but growing business district.
Innovative Community Partnerships
We are currently working with Hamilton County Public Health, Community Health Services, to build a program to increase SNAP/EBT redemption at farmers’ markets as part of their program to reduce childhood obesity. Together, we are partnering with faith-based organizations in several surrounding communities to not just bring EBT shoppers into the market, but to also give them confidence and tools to cook healthy meals with the new foods they are likely to find at the Market. We’re hoping to partner with retailers to help supply basic cooking equipment to participants as they progress through the program. This year we are working with the Children’s Hunger Alliance and a focus group to ensure that when the program is implemented next year it will have a positive impact.
The Market implemented SNAP/EBT acceptance in 2008 with our own funds. While we feel that this service is very under-utilized, we have been working with local agencies to help increase awareness of its availability. We have worked with Valley Interfaith Food and Clothing Center to educate their counselors about the benefits for clients when they use their Ohio Direction card at the market; take-away materials are available for all clients. We have also translated our take-away materials into Spanish and worked with Su Casa, a program of Catholic Charities SouthWestern Ohio, in an effort to assist in their health promotion services.
Farm to Table Producer-Only Integrity
Farmers are visited twice a season. We walk the fields; review seed orders; discuss soil health, natural amendments, and crop rotation. We see where cows are milked, the hogs and chickens are foraging, the herds are pastured, and the donkey and goat offer protection from predators.
Cottage vendors are visited when they join the market with follow-up visits as necessary. We watch as the soap is “cooked”, coffee beans are roasted, dough is made, honey is collected, gelato is churned. We document our trips with photos that are posted on our website and displayed in a book for browsing by market shoppers.
When we were planning the Market, we purposely selected Tuesday as it was a day that most merchants said was one of their slowest. We are now bringing an average of 350 people into the downtown business district each Tuesday. While anecdotal, many of the downtown merchants have indicated that on Market Tuesdays they have noticeably increased traffic in their stores. Also, this year we started a monthly "Around Town" section in our newsletter as a venue for local businesses to highlight their activities and specials. Our electronic newsletter reaches over 1700 email addresses a week.
Since our opening in 2007, each week we have counted our shoppers. Beginning in 2010, we started collecting gross receipts from vendors each week to establish our sales baseline. We have performed several calculations based on this information and look forward to comparing year-over-year numbers at the end of the season. Along with this information, we are tracking contributing factors such as media coverage, weather, and other factors that can impact shopper attendance and vendor sales.
We are scheduled to conduct dot surveys the weeks of July 19 and September 13. We will be collecting information about the shopping habits of our shoppers.
A Small Business Incubator
Farmers: One of our vendors has returned to their farm roots and assumed ownership of family property; they have diversified the farm from commodity crops to include livestock as well as market produce. Their move toward sustainability is beneficial not just for the environment and land, but also preserves an economically viable farm life for their families. Two of our family farms have transitioned to sustainable / organic and are in their fourth year. Locust Run Farm has been certified organic since 1986 and That Guy’s Family Farm has been a certified organic farm since 1998; they continue to grow their business through their participation in WaFM.
Cottage producers: Donna’s Gourmet Cookies and La Terza Artisan Roasterie have grown their business from home-based operations to businesses housed in dedicated commercial spaces. Five Star Foodies utilized our market to help grow their customer base and are now distributing their vegan products throughout the eastern US.
We take advantage of the weekly opportunity to engage children.
The first market of each season features Gorman Heritage Farm, a non-profit, working farm and outdoor education center. Gorman talks with the kids about barnyard animals and gives them an overview of life on the farm. This event includes a selection of animals visiting the market. The kids love our on-site petting zoo.
This year we have planted a demonstration garden so that the kids can see what their food looks like when it’s still on the farm. They will be helping to water, weed, and harvest the garden throughout the summer.
Each week we offer “tattoos” for the kids. A stamp featuring a market product that is in season is selected by one of our regular kid-shoppers.
Cooking demos with samples of market food are another way that we engage the kids. From easy after-school snacks to innovative ways to eat raw peas (“just open the zipper”), we are demonstrating that healthy foods can be fun. When apples come into season, our orchardist’s tent is overflowing with kids selecting their favorite varieties.
Civic Engagement and Volunteerism
Wyoming Ave. Farmers’ Market is all about civic engagement and volunteerism. We are a volunteer-run, non-profit business launched by a group of interested Wyoming residents. The group believed that a market would be an important addition to our town for many reasons: to support sustainable agriculture in our local area; to serve as a venue for new businesses; to support the downtown business district; and to create a weekly gathering space for community members.
Two of the initial organizers have become the General Manager and Vendor Coordinator handling all the day-to-day managerial, promotional, organizational, financial, and on-site needs of the market. While this requires over 40 hours a week, it is all done without pay or compensation. When the primary organizers are unavailable for a specific market day, other volunteers step up to assist. In a given year, approximately 30 volunteers contribute to the success of the market.
We have plenty of space to host an event – we're adjacent to the Village Green with lots of room for media and additional tents. We are also fairly certain that we can engage the downtown business district to join the festivities.
For more information on the Wyoming Ave. Farmers' Market visit their website at: www.wyomingfarmersmarket.net
Visit the Wyoming Ave. Farmers' Market on Facebook
The Farmers Market Coalition is highlighting markets across the country for their contribution to their local economies, community education and quality of life. See those stories.