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Southern Tier West Plans Regional Farmers Market Summit Nov. 4

Salamanca, NY – The Southern Tier West (STW) Regional Development and Planning Board announces the agenda for “Growing Our Regional Farmers Markets by {net}Working,” the first regional summit designed to bring representatives of the region’s farmers markets together for a day of networking, assessment and shared planning for the future. Breakout work sessions will be facilitated by Diane Eggert, executive director of the Farmers Market Federation of NY, who will lead participants through strategic planning activities that will help define areas of opportunities for farmers markets to expand and diversify their vendor bases while also enhancing the overall farmers’ market experience for their customers.

The summit also will feature a keynote address by Jim Farr, manager of Rochester’s Public Market, who will talk about strategies to grow and evolve farmers markets into vital community assets. The summit is especially designed for farmers’ market stakeholders such as farmers, growers and other vendors; managers and coordinators; board members and volunteer; and market host organizations.

Kimberly LaMendola, regional development coordinator of STW, says that the idea for a first-ever meeting of regional farmers’ market representatives stemmed from analysis of two major consultant studies recently conducted by STW to determine the feasibility of developing a coordinated local food and aggregation supply chain. Findings showed that the three-county region is rich in agriculture assets and direct-to-consumer local food outlets, such as farmers markets and roadside stands, but that there was room to build capacity among those venues and to grow demand for local food products.

Notes LaMendola: “Our assessments show that the western Southern Tier region has a strong foundation of agricultural and local food assets and an emerging local food economy. A key strategy to building a strong, consistent and resilient local and regional food economy in western Southern Tier is to grow a strong and consistent market demand for local food products. One way to achieve this is to build on the assets of the existing farmers markets in the three counties and provide professional development and market capacity building opportunities for the vendors and market managers so that they can take full advantage of the potential customer base and use a variety of business management and marketing approaches to more strongly position their market for long-term growth and success.”

LaMendola said she turned to Eggert to help develop the agenda for the day-long summit because of her interest in helping farmers markets in the Southern Tier grow their capacities. Eggert will lead breakout sessions that will explore the areas of challenge and opportunities among the existing markets and also chart the path for the development of a functional network of representatives from the region’s farmers markets.

“A formal network of regional farmers markets representatives can function effectively to share resources, coordinate event planning, solve problems and provide a platform for each market to succeed on its intrinsic assets while working with other markets to build a vibrant and diverse direct-to-consumer local food economy,” says LaMendola. STW is fortunate to have Eggert helping us connect the region’s farmers markets with each other and guiding them on best practices of market management, customer development and the development of a regional market network.”

“Growing Our Regional Farmers Markets By {net}Working” takes place on Monday, Nov. 4 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Magnano Room of the Cutco Theatre on the Olean campus of Jamestown Community College. Thanks to grant support, the event is free to attend and breakfast and lunch are included. Meals will be prepared by Chef Sheila Darrow using fresh local farm products. All vendors of any type from the region’s farmers markets are invited to participate. The regional focus includes farmers markets in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties, the northern tier of Pennsylvania and southern Erie County. The full agenda, additional details, and registration forms are available online at www.freshlocalwny.org, or contact Kimberly LaMendola at 716-945-5302 x 211 or email klamendola@southerntierwest.org.

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