Farmers Market-ing

Fail

There's a huge Farmer's Market Fiasco going on in Aurora over the last couple weeks.

I'm still reading through the almighty "Constitution" that councilor Granger inflicted upon the market and trying to sort out all the pieces.  Once more of the pieces of the puzzle emerge I'll be sure to post my thoughts.

Meanwhile with each passing day tempers are flaring, f-bombs are being dropped, reporters are being harassed, vendors are venting their frustration and now letters are hitting the papers.

For all the adoration, and accolades that councilor Granger has received for being the liaison of the Farmers market, and the direction that "he" has taken it from both the mayor and now his sycophants he has writing letters to the Auroran I thought it would be worthwhile to investigate what exactly he has done in comparison to other markets, and what was laid out both by Farmers Markets Ontario & Farmers Markets Canada especially in regards to Marketing.

If you want to see what should be done to market a Farmers Market check out Newmarket's Farmer's Market website : http://www.newmarketfarmersmarket.com/home.html

Strangely the Aurora Farmers' Market (and Artisan Fair) doesn't have a website, and no, the one page abomination on the Town of Aurora website here: http://www.e-aurora.ca/farmersmarket  doesn't count.

Newmarket Farmer's Market is well organized, so is it's marketing.
Aurora Farmers' Market (and Artisan Fair) has no marketing.

There is no comparison.

Last year I laughed as I watched Stephen Granger walking booth to booth asking the vendors if they received the freshly printed handouts.  He was so proud, delivering what amounted to a cheaply printed accordion fold-out flier.

It was a joke.

I scanned it and posted it here because I doubt anyone would take my word for how poorly constructed it was:

Flyer

First off the flier doesn't even get the name right. 

It reads "Aurora Farmers Market".  It should read "Aurora Farmers' Market and Artisan Fair"

How can you succeed at marketing your product if you can't even get the name right?

Secondly it looks like someone discovered a 1992 version of Printshop, loaded it up on their Commodore 64 and went to town.

The layout lacks consistency, message is fractured and all over the place.

What the hell is 'Aurora Market Cafe"?

An entire panel thanks larger sponsors such as Home Hardware, Holland view Trail & Longos ……and this is the best you could do?

Considering the vendors, some of them "artisans" this crudely amateurish flier does a great misrepresentation of the vendors and the market as a whole.  Whoever designed it should be ashamed, and whoever approved it needs to give their heads a shake.

This seems to be the extent of marketing that was done last year…..oh, right I almost forgot, there was mention of the market every week in the pathetic "notice board" section of the "Mayora banner" that no one reads, yeah that's good R.O.I.

There was money provided by the town, where did they spend any of it on marketing outside this flier?

I can only assume that money supposed to be spent on promoting the market was spent to promote the "special events" at the market.  Those events managed by Sher St. Kitts that used and promoted services by St. Kitts Music.

If my assumption is not true then I welcome data that proves the opposite.

For the love of god, the Farmers' Markets Ontario website doesn't even list Aurora Farmers' Market (and Artisan Fair):
http://farmersmarketsontario.com/Markets.cfm

What's up with that?  Why would the Aurora Farmers' Market not be a member?

I would like to know if the executive has contacted Robert T. Chorney, Founding Chair of Farmers Markets' Canada and Executive Director for Farmers' Markets Ontario for his consulting services:  http://farmersmarketsontario.com/Services.cfm

Robert authored a book titled "Sharing the Harvest : How to Build Farmers' Markets & How Farmers' Markets Build Community" : http://www.farmersmarketscanada.ca/Upload/file/FMO_book_flyer.pdf

Fmo-book-flyer1

There are several topics that read as big gaps for the Aurora Farmer's market, none which seem to have been addressed over the last 2 years.

It looks like a valuable resource, one should inquire if the executive or Granger has a copy and referenced it.

Farmers' Markets Canada has a bunch of online resources on their site here:
http://www.farmersmarketscanada.ca/PublicLibrary.cfm

Including a Brochure titled "Economic Impact Study 2009"

2009brochureimage

This brochure contains the findings of a new national study that reports on the economic impact of Farmers' Markets in Canada in 2008.

Interestingly the brochure includes several useful statistics.

On Self sustainability : 68% of market managers report no financial support from governments or associations in recent years.

I guess Aurora Farmers' Market (and Artisan Fair) is the exception to the rule here.
Do they even want to be self sustaining?

On Growing the market : Managers’ #1 suggestion to help grow their business: advertising and marketing support, followed by attracting new vendors— especially food vendors.

Aurora failed to heed this advise too.  It lacks marketing and advertising as outlined above, and has failed to attract new food vendors and farmers in favor of increasing the artisan fair component.

In a Survey asking shoppers what they want from their market here is how it broke down:

no changes – 33%
more vendors more selection – 17%
live entertainment – 4%

So why is Aurora focusing on special events and live entertainment, if what people are asking for are vendors and selection ?

What direction is the Farmers Market heading?

I noticed an attempt at a slogan on the flier which read "Your Special Meeting Place in Aurora"

Is the Market truly being supported so that vendors and market goers truly enjoy the elements that make a true Farmer's Market special?

or

Is the Farmers Market being co opted to focus on and drive traffic to special events that no one has asked for?

I expect the 2010 market will show the latter.

And that is most likely the source of all the frustration in town from vendors and Market goers.

There's a lot of song and dance, but one one is listening.

Until its too late.

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2 thoughts on “Farmers Market-ing

  1. “For the love of god, the Farmers’ Markets Ontario website doesn’t even list Aurora Farmers’ Market (and Artisan Fair)”

    Good post Chris but Aurora is listed there – number 6 alphabetically

    The Aurora and Newmarket markets should be joined anyway and setup somewhere with good access and parking. Better for the vendors I would expect.

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