There may be no better, more positive way to bring a community together than at the local farmers market. Think about it – it signifies the beginning of spring, new growth and people coming together in a casual, congenial manner to buy foods and flowers directly from local growers.
But selling at farmers markets comes with challenges – government requirements, product marketing issues, unpredictable weather and other factors that can wreak havoc with even the most conscientious business plans and food safety measures.
"Farmers markets draw consumers searching for locally grown foods," said Gayle Price, family and consumer sciences specialist with K-State Research and Extension. "This trend continues to increase in popularity attracting local growers who have expressed an interest in understanding current best practices in food safety and in identifying ways to market their products and provide consumers with nutritious and safe local foods."
To help novice and experienced vendors, alike, with marketing, management and food safety issues, K-State Research and Extension is hosting the "Southeast Kansas Regional Farmers Market Vendor Workshop" on Saturday, March 29 at the First Christian Church of Pittsburg, 705 E. Centennial Drive. The workshop is supported by county Farm Bureau associations of southeast Kansas and the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
The day begins with registration at 9 a.m. and the program starting at 9:30 a.m. Program topics and speakers include:
Kansas Food Safety Inspection Requirements – representative of Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA);
Weights & Measures Requirements - Maureen Henzler, KDA;
Food Safety Best Practices for Vendors – Londa Nwadike, K-State Research and Extension food safety specialist;
The Business of Being a Farmers Market Vendor – Annarose Hart, KDA;
Introduction to Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) for Fruit and Vegetable Growers – Cary Rivard, K-State Research and Extension horticulture specialist;
Maximizing Your Sales at Farmers Markets – Tracey Graham, former coordinator for Kansas Rural Center's Farmers Market Project; and
Food Safety for Value-Added Products – Fadi Aramouni, K-State Research and Extension food safety specialist.
The regulations to be covered apply to the entire state of Kansas, but the best practices apply to any state (including Missouri and others), so the workshop will have relevance for vendors beyond Kansas, Price said.
The early registration of $15, which includes snacks, lunch and program materials, is due by March 21. After that date and at the door, the fee is $20. A printable brochure and registration form is available at the K-State Research and Extension Southeast Area office website: http://www.southeast.ksu.edu/. More information is available by contacting Anna Mae Brown at 620-724-8233.