The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets’ 10th annual Farmers’ Market Convention will take place Thursday, January 11th at the Augusta Civic Center. For the first time, the convention will run concurrently with the Maine Agricultural Trades Show, an annual event hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, which runs from January 9th-11th. Farmers, food producers, service providers, and consumers will travel from all over the state to attend the two events. Market vendors, managers, friends, and volunteers from across the state will convene for the conference, the theme of which is “Keeping ‘Local’ Competitive in the Global Market: Policies, Trends, and Resources That Will Impact Maine Farmers’ Markets.”
“Having the Maine Farmers’ Market Convention at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show is a big win for farmers and the organizations that work with them,” said Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “The recent growth of farmers’ markets and locally-sourced foods is good for both Maine farmers and consumers. This year’s event will highlight the interactive connection between the vibrant, technology-driven nature of modern agriculture and the local food, know-your-farmer lifestyle that farmers’ markets help promote.”
Interactive connections will be apparent throughout the Convention sessions, with professionals from a variety of fields contributing to a wide range of topics, including “Setting Up a Market Stand That Consumers Can’t Resist”, “Law and Order: Farmers’ Market Unit – A Walk Through the Legal Issues That May Impact Your Market”, “A Holistic Approach to Branding”, and “Fundraising, Friendraising, and Finding Sponsors in Your Community and Beyond.”
The Maine Farmers’ Market Convention will also draw connections between Maine and other states and provinces, with guest speakers coming in from Vermont, Minnesota, and British Columbia. Keynote speaker Philip Ackerman-Leist (of Green Mountain College in VT) recently wrote, “In an era when so many things seem outside our sphere of influence, I can’t imagine a more reassuring way to reconnect not just with people but also a sense of empowerment than by putting a group of community-minded farmers and food entrepreneurs together in a warm room in the middle of winter…and what better place to do it than in Maine? Some people get excited by international trade, but I’m thrilled to be trading ‘local ideas’ with marketers in Maine who are finding new ways to rebuild not just local markets but also community-based food systems.”
A Maine DACF Inspector of Weights and Measures will be conducting scales testing as part of the Convention, and a representative of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service will be meeting with farmers and others with questions or interest in signing up to accept SNAP benefits. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention will offer a WIC Farmer Authorization Training. The Convention will also include an exhibit area featuring businesses and organizations that work directly with farmers’ markets.
Pre-registration is required, and is open now through January 2nd. (The cost is $38-48, with some scholarships available for students in agricultural programs.) For more information or to register, call (207) 487-7114 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Online registration is also available at mainefarmersmarkets.org.