A small group of Virginia farmers market managers began meeting in 2010 on a semi-regular basis to strategize ways to best support the growing numbers of farmers markets throughout Virginia.
They quickly realized the enormous value of simply getting together; they could share experience, pool resources, brainstorm ideas, and learn from one another! This sparked the idea to form a farmers market managers’ association to support the educational needs of market managers in Virginia.
A Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grant, Sustaining Virginia Farmers Markets: Establishing a Support Network for Virginia Farmers Market Managers, was submitted and awarded in the fall of 2011! The FMPP grant helped establish the Virginia Farmers Market Managers Association (VFMMA) to support the educational and professional development needs of farmers market managers, developed the beginnings of a centralized website, and increased EBT/SNAP opportunities at farmers markets. In the fall of 2012, a needs assessment was conducted among market managers, and in 2013, the association held its first annual farmers market conference. By October 2013, the Virginia Farmers Market Managers Association (VFMMA) was officially registered in the state of Virginia.
So…..you may be wondering why our name has changed since then?
In 2014, in partnership with VDACS’ Virginia Grown Program, VFMMA co-hosted the second annual farmers market conference which drew over 100 market managers from across the state. VFMMA established a steering committee out of this conference and in 2015 a group of about a dozen market managers decided the scope of the association was much broader than just supporting market managers. A unanimous decision was made to change the name to the now Virginia Farmers Market Association (VAFMA) with recognition that farmers, vendors, customers, and organizations all play a critical role in the success and sustainability of farmers markets.
In 2015, VAFMA hosted its third annual conference, Collaborate & Celebrate, continuing to build momentum and gaining valuable volunteers. VAFMA is currently developing regional associations across the state, as well as professional development workshops, such as SNAP/EBT training sessions, so market managers can work together on matters of mutual interest. We are currently partnering with Virginia Cooperative Extension in developing a Farmers Market Manager Certification program to provide the farmers market managers of Virginia with the best tools available to operate their markets. We hope to launch this new program in 2017-2018.
VAFMA continues to gain momentum as a volunteer-run organization, and we’ve galvanized new energy from the official Board of Directors. It’s an exciting (and busy) time to get involved with the VAFMA. If you’d like to participate in the development of YOUR statewide association of farmers markets, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We work together to cultivate vibrant and sustainable farmers market communities across Virginia.
Virginia Farmers Market Association looks forward to working with and supporting your farmers market!