Make Local Farmers Markets a Rural Tourism Attraction

by Joanne Steele on July 22, 2011

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buy chicken at a farmers marketFarmers market season is in high swing, with markets open at least a few hours a week in towns everywhere.

These markets are great places for visitors to socialize with locals and to support the local economy.

Farmers market organizers and participating growers are faced with the reality that every small local business faces. Growing and processing is only half the work!

To attract business from both locals and visitors, you need to think about all aspects of your marketing.

Jennifer Brooks, in a post at Rurban Fringe about farmers markets, outlines many of the things that a grower needs to think about when selling at a farmers market.

She discusses all the essentials from display to diversity of products at a market, so I won’t bore you with repetition.

Here are two additional points focusing on building your farmers market customer base and increasing your rural tourism industry.

1. Make certain that your lodgings and restaurants have farmers market posters.

Include time, date, and place including a simple map to encourage visitors to come and enjoy your market.

At many markets I’ve attended there is entertainment, prepared food for sale and even handmade items and flowers. These are the things that make a market an attraction for visitors. Be sure to include these features on your poster.

A packed farmers market is good for your growers and good for your town. Visitors are attracted to events and activities where locals congregate. So attracting locals to shop will also attract visitors and help your rural tourism industry.

2. Use the web to connect to locals and build a loyal local customer base.

Remember that your locals are coming to grocery shop, so take a page out of the big grocery store’s playbook and let you customers know what’s going out of season and will only be available this week, and what’s just coming into season.

Gather emails and send out weekly reminders including the coming week’s specials, entertainment and announcements.

A farmers market Facebook Page is easy to keep updated with “in season” information, profiles of your local growers, announcements of upcoming entertainment and more.

Farmers markets are weekly events, and everyone knows how important events are to rural tourism. Without much extra work, your town can support your local growers, give your locals a great shopping and socializing experience and bring visitors to town in droves to hobnob with friendly residents and support your local economy.

Here are two related past posts:

Shop Local Campaigns Work Says New Survey

Online Events Marketing for Your Small Town in Five Easy Steps

Photo on Flickr by Steve Bowbrick

 

1 Lara Dickson July 25, 2011 at 7:40 am

No doubt tourists love to get their hands on what’s local, especially in smaller cities and towns. And not to be biased (because I live here), but the folks at the Burlington VT farmers market really do a great job of promoting here. Slick and useful website, very active Facebook and Twitter presence, and of course posters all around town. The year-round market is jam packed every Saturday. There are other markets around the city and state that have a smaller online presence, but many do make a genuine stab at it. Check Burlington’s out: http://www.burlingtonfarmersmarket.org/

2 Joanne Steele July 25, 2011 at 10:40 am

Great suggestions Lara! I just checked out both the website and the Facebook page, and their both good examples of great local marketing.

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