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Abstract

The resurgence of farmers’ markets in New Jersey has been welcomed by farmers, consumers and municipalities alike. This form of direct marketing has the potential to benefit all three sectors simultaneously. Farmers’ markets allow growers to capture a greater share of the consumer’s food expenditure thus increasing their profitability. Similarly, consumers’ need for fresh, high quality commodities as well as for farm-based recreational experiences are met. Also, drawing customers to downtown areas can contribute to the revitalization of these areas by boosting the business of local retailers. However, despite their rapid spread throughout the state, no study has been conducted on the efficiency of the farmers’ markets in terms of management and organization. This study provides an overview of various characteristics of managers as well as of the factors that have an effect on the organization and well functioning of these direct marketing outlets. Besides demographics, some of the managers’ characteristics analyzed are: source of employment, years of experience, farming expertise, their presence in the facility during selling hours and methods used to recruit producers. With regard to market organization, some factors explored are: location, market layout, criteria for market’s site, methods of promotion and advertisement (including special events), days of operation and fees charged to vendors. In addition, rivalry among farmers and between farmers and local retailers is considered as well. The results show that farmers’ markets managers are employed by several different entities. These are cities, townships, counties, downtown revitalization and special improvement district organizations, farmers’ markets and business associations among others. The majority of the managers supervise the market’s operations during selling hours, have no farming experience and have been working as managers for less than 2 years. Managers recruit farmers either personally, by contacting Ag Extension offices and/or through the North Jersey Farmers’ Markets Council. The average age of the respondents was 45 and the majority were Caucasian, had at least graduated from college and had an annual household income of $70,000 or over.

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