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PA Farm Bureau Supports Legislation Protecting Agritourism

Pennsylvania’s long history of agricultural innovation has propelled the Keystone State into a distinction as a national leader in agritourism. Pennsylvania is one of the leading states in the nation in the number of farms that sell directly to consumers, rivaling even California. Agritourism events and activities on farms enhance connections consumers make with the food they eat, the local farmers that produce it, and provide fun and entertainment for families. But many Pennsylvania farmers who need additional income from their farms are hesitant to engage in agritourism enterprises over concerns of civil liability and whether their insurance will protect them for public events. Pennsylvania farmers that have started agritourism businesses have been subjected to lawsuits that stem from accidents that are beyond a farmer’s control, such as a trip and fall in a corn maze. Other states have addressed this issue by enacting legislation that reduces a farmer’s civil liability for accidents that happen because of risks that are common to a farm. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is asking for your support of legislation that will help protect agritourism operators.

Read more:

Resources for agritourism:

2019 National Direct Agricultural Marketing Summit

Oct. 7-9, 2019, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois  

The Summit provides a unique networking opportunity for direct agricultural market practitioners to form new partnerships and learn new business strategies that can improve the performance of their farms and businesses.

The Summit features resources to assist market managers, direct marketing farmers, and agribusinesses as well as practitioners or technical assistance providers in understanding and enhancing direct marketing efforts. Summit attendees represent diverse backgrounds from public and private sector representing farmers, academics, entrepreneurs, service providers, mission-focused investors, business operators, community practitioners, students, consultants, and government employees from state and Federal agencies.

The Summit focus on “Entrepreneurship Opportunities Across the Food Value Chain” focusing on direct to consumer markets, local food systems and value added technical assistance. Experts and resources from the public and private sector will be highlighted throughout the 3-day event.

More info and registration:

2019 "Are You Crazy?!" Retail Farm Market Bus Tour

Join Penn State Extension for a special 23rd “Are You Crazy?!” Retail Farm Market Bus Tour as we visit markets in Virginia on September 24 and 25, 2019. This tour is for retail farm market professionals and is held at the height of the season to enable participants to learn from their regional farm market peers during their best and most robust season.
This event will include behind the scenes tours and information directly from farm market owners including unique display and merchandising ideas and information on market expansion and farm transition. The September tour will visit seven unique farms in two days highlighting agritainment, farm market development, diversification of products, customer relations and much more. Our rolling classroom environment enables market owners and managers to share lessons learned, season highlights and discuss pertinent topics as we travel between tour locations.
This year our tour bus leaves from the Penn State Extension office in Cumberland County. The tour fee includes overnight hotel stay, bus fare, lunch on both days of the tour and breakfast on the second day. Dinner on the first day of the tour will be on your own.

Registration and more info:

Keep Your Social Media Marketing Legal

Social media has become invaluable to farms and agricultural businesses as they connect with the public for both communication and marketing purposes. The advantages to social media marketing include ease of use, price point, and accessibility. Don’t be fooled by the ease and flexibility that comes with social media, however. You must continue to abide by the requirements for content use and information gathering just as you would with other forms of marketing.

Read more:
Social Media for Farmers' Market Managers & Vendors

On this episode of Tent Talk, Catt and Brijet speak with Emily Lawrence, Marketing & Communications Coordinator for Farmers Markets of Novia Scotia, a non-profit cooperative of over 30 farmers' markets. Emily gives us great tips for making the most of your social media presence, things to avoid and new ways to leverage the power of social media to build your farmers' market business. 
Penn State Extension has a new online course for market vendors:
Food Safety at Farmers Markets

Improving Market Performance

Brian Moyer, Penn State Extension

One of the most common issues I hear from retail farm markets is “can my market sales support hiring another employee?” To determine
whether we can or can’t, we need to know how our market is performing and what analytics we can use to improve market performance and
profitability so we can make informed decisions.

There are many different analytics we can use but I’m going to focus on sales per square foot.  This is a great way of knowing how your market
is performing. It can help you identify strong and weak departments of your market. Sales per square foot is calculated by taking your total
gross sales for the year and dividing it by the total square footage of the sales space. Don’t include space used for office, storage, prep, etc. just
the space where product is displayed and sold.

Total annual gross sales/Total square footage = sales per square foot.

How does the sales per square foot measure against other farm stores as an industry? This figure is hard to find for our industry but for small  grocery retail the figure to shoot for is $500 per square foot.

To improve the sales per square foot number we can focus on a few

  1. Market layout
Take a critical look at your market from the entry to the checkout. Are  you using your displays and lighting to highlight the products to their   full potential? Unclutter the store. Messy or cluttered areas will confuse customers and not encourage sales.
Do you need to revisit your floor plan? Your floor plan should guide     how your customers move through the space and guide your product   placement. Is the signage consistent and attractive? Remember,
signage is your “secret salesperson”. Place staple and popular items      strategically so customers must move through most of the sales floor to get to them exposing them to most of your offerings. Where is milk
usually located in a grocery store? In the back of the store.
  1. Cross selling
Create packages or bundles of products that go together which can increase the number of transactions or “basket value”. Good signage can also help with cross selling. One of the best ones I’ve seen was a sign for   green beans. Yes, green beans. The sign said, “Greens Beans .99. Goes well with our new potatoes and smoked country ham”. The sign takes you from thinking about purchasing beans to thinking about a ham
  1. Encourage customers to stick around

Our customers aren’t always in a hurry. Your market is a destination. There are reasons why they come to the market. Do we know what those reasons are? Use that information to create more reasons for them to hang around. Research shows that the longer customers stay in our markets, the more they tend to purchase.
Let’s not forget the appearance of our market on the outside. Create inviting displays outside of the market can help increase the number of people who visit your market each day.
Of course, most of the information is in your point of sale (POS) system. How often are you reviewing that data and what are you doing with it to improve your market performance?

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"Are You Crazy?!" Retail Farm Market Bus Tour

Each year this tour brings unexpected learning opportunities and beneficial networking connections to its participants.
September 24 & 25


Farmers Market Food Safety

online course

With the continued popularity of eating healthy, access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other freshly made products is more popular than ever. Farmers' markets are attracting more customers -- and vendors. Ensuring food safety at farmers' markets is an important responsibility of the vendors.

Through a combination of videos and reading, this course focuses on teaching new and established farmers' market vendors the basics of food safety and sanitation.

Our Business Partners




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