8:30 to 9:35 Session A
- Planning Events that Attract Families, Energy and Attention to the Market – Kids’ passports, live music, cooking demos, sea-creature touch tanks and more…. There are many creative, manageable ways to make farmers’ markets more enticing for families and inviting for everyone in the community. Panelists will share their work in enhancing the community vibrancy at Maine markets and address the challenges and logistics of organizing high quality activities. (Hilary Kark, Maine-SNAP-Ed, Trisha Smith, UMaine Co-operative Extension; Heather McGuire, Maine SNAP-Ed; Marie Taft, Houlton Community Market. Moderator: Sherie Blumenthal. Washington/York Room)
- Keeping Our Farmers’ Markets Strong: Consumer Confidence –
Ronda Stone from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (Quality Assurance and Regulations) will talk about ways to keep Maine’s Farmers’ Markets strong by focusing on consumer confidence. Consumers want to be sure that foods purchased from the markets are safe and presented honestly. Market food safety practices, licensing, food sovereignty and FSMA will be the key topics of discussion. (Moderator: Jack McAdam. Augusta/Pine Tree/Capital Room)
- Lowering Barriers to Market Farming with No-till Techniques – Andrew Mefferd, editor and publisher of Growing for Market and author of The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook, will talk about no-till farming techniques. Beginning farmers often turn to farmers’ markets early on as an important venue for selling their products. Can the no-till approach help the beginning market farmer scale up production and grow their market presence? (Andrew Mefferd, editor and publisher of Growing for Market magazine. Moderator: Mark Guzzi. Sagadahoc Room)
- Setting Up a Market Stand That Shoppers Can’t Resist – Whether you bring meat, produce, flowers, value-added foods, or other products to market, there are techniques that will boost the visual appeal of your stall, attracting new shoppers. Learn from the successes and mistakes of successful, experienced market vendors. (Christa Bahner, Camden Farmers’ Market; Abby Sadauckas, BTLT Farmers’ Market; Sarah Wiederkehr, Winter Hill Farm. Moderator: Cathy Karonis. Piscataquis Room)
9:40 to 10:45 Session B
- “Up next…Attention-seeking Farmers’ Markets” – Learn easy strategies to get your farmers’ market in the media. No, really — you deserve hot press! Lucie will get you thinking of newsworthy antics while entertaining you with relevant and humbling stories about starting a pasture-raised egg farm in a place that makes Maine look balmy. (Lucie Amundsen, Author and co-owner of Locally Laid Egg Company. Moderator: Courtney Williams. Augusta/Pine Tree/Capital Room)
- New Apps and Digital Tools for Market Management and Direct Marketing – Learn about some cool new digital tools (and new uses for classics) that will help make your life as a market manager or market vendor easier. The list of new digital tools grows longer each year, which can be both promising and confusing. This session will explore a few digital apps that can help streamline your farmers’ market work. (Chris Quinlan, MarketWurks; Brittany Hopkins, Bangor Farmers’ Market; Emily Buswell, Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets. Moderator: Mike Bahner. Washington/York Room) Note: This session does not address social media apps.
- Fundraising, Friendraising, and Finding Sponsors in Your Community and Beyond – Successful fundraising isn’t about selling raffle tickets, nor is it about writing magical grant proposals. For most farmers’ markets, it’s about finding donors and business sponsors in the local community. There is tremendous fundraising opportunity even in small towns, but it’s essential to plan carefully, and use all the tools available.(Shelley Latham, Beeswax Productions; Isla Dickerson, Bangor Savings Bank. Moderator: Angie Wotton. Sagadahoc Room)
- Is Everyone Welcome at Your Market? Strategies for Making the Market More Navigable for All – Take a closer look around your market: Are there obstacles that may prevent some people from feeling comfortable and being able to move around safely? Markets often can’t change the infrastructure of their space (such as curb placement or slopes). However, there are usually simple steps that will make the market more accessible to more people, and safer for all visitors. Being accessible to individuals with mobility challenges, vision problems, hearing loss, and other obstacles makes a farmers’ market more welcoming, and also broadens the shopper base. (Jill S. Johanning, AIA, of Access Design; Ketra Crosson, OTR/L, Independent Living Specialist. Moderator: Jaime Berhanu. Piscataquis Room)
10:45 to 11:35 WIC Authorization Training
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Authorization Training – Tina Bernier, WIC vendor manager for the state of Maine, will provide an orientation for farmers to be able to accept WIC checks and Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks disbursed to families throughout the state. This is a required (and simple) training before a farm is allowed to accept such payments. If you’re curious, then come! (Washington/York Room)
11:00 to 11:35 Session C – Legislative Update
Staff from the Maine Farm Bureau and a Representative from Chellie Pingree’s office will provide updates on recent developments in state and local law that pertain to agriculture, as well as an overview of what to expect in 2018 and key areas for advocacy. This half hour session will get you up to speed on legislation that could impact your farm, small business, or farmers’ market. (Emily Horton, Rep. Chellie Pingree’s office and Julie Ann Smith, Maine Farm Bureau. Augusta/Pine Tree/Capital Room)
11:45-12:40 Keynote Address
Hacking the Local Foodshed: Why Farmers’ Markets Matter More Than Ever
Farmers’ markets are more than places where farmers and food entrepreneurs simply hone their competitive edges. They are also our society’s best representations of “food democracy” and “living economies.” As we hack our way toward local foodsheds that are more profitable, equitable, nimble, and resilient, it is imperative that we capitalize upon the anchor role that farmers’ markets play in linking economic value to democratic values. We’ll explore how farmers markets can advance bold moves on a local level. (Philip Ackermen-Leist, Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at Green Mountain College. Augusta/Pine Tree/Capital Room)
1:30-2:00 MFFM Annual Meeting
Join us for an overview of MFFM’s many projects, vote on the incoming Board members, learn about opportunities to get involved, and get a glimpse of the year ahead. (Augusta/Pine Tree/Capital Room)
2:10 to 3:15 Session D
- A Holistic Approach to Branding Your Farmers’ Market – This workshop will dig into the details of what makes for a robust, organized promotional strategy by looking at a variety of materials submitted by current Maine farmers’ markets. Arielle Bywater of Pica (a brand, strategy, and design firm in Belfast) will review real-time website, newsletter, and social media promotional messages from markets, suggesting changes that would improve their effectiveness. Turning a critical eye to your own market’s materials will help determine weaknesses, strengths, and areas where minor adjustments could have major results. Most markets rely on volunteers, often several, for outreach efforts, making this kind of assessment and planning even more crucial. (Moderator: Hanne Tierney. Augusta/Pine Tree/Capital Room)
- Law and Order: Farmers’ Market Unit – A Walk Through the Legal Issues That May Impact Your Market – Save money and heartache later by attending this session now! Do you ever sign on the dotted line on behalf of your farmers’ market? Do you own your own farm or business, and sometimes stop to think about the legal implications if something happened at one of your markets? Or maybe you’ve heard someone is starting a new farmers’ market in the same town as yours, and there is suddenly confusion about the name. If your farmers’ market has an attorney on its advisory board who freely gives advice, you can skip this session. Otherwise, this could be the most valuable hour you spend all week. There will be plenty of time for Q&A, so bring your questions! (Dave McConnell, Attorney at Perkins Thompson. Moderator: Clayton Carter. Washington/York Room)
- Getting Started with Maine Harvest Bucks: An Overview for 1st Year and Prospective Markets – This is the opportunity for markets new to SNAP and/or Maine Harvest Bucks to get a basic overview and have your questions answered. Note – this session is only for markets entering their first year with Maine Harvest Bucks in 2018, or considering launching a SNAP/EBT program. (Jimmy DeBiasi, Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets. Moderator: Shannon Grimes. Sagadahoc Room)
- Local Food Pricing: Historical, Regional, and Market Based Differences Through the Lens of Organic – In this session, Heather Omand (Organic Marketing and Business Specialist at MOFGA) will share the initial results of her analysis of organic pricing over the past decade in Maine, looking at price changes at a variety of farmers’ markets, the role of inflation, and pricing for specific products/crops. She will also discuss 2017 pricing at farmers’ markets as it relates to different market types, seasons, and regions of the state. There will be ample time for questions and group discussion to address the presentation and also to consider the future of pricing as it relates to the national market increase in demand and supply. (Moderator: Brittany Hopkins. Piscataquis Room)
Turn in your conference evaluations to be entered in a drawing during the round table discussions!
3:20 – 4:00 Round Table Discussions
- Round table Discussion: Highs and Lows of the 2017 Market Season – You can never talk about this stuff at markets, because you don’t want shoppers to overhear. Bring it all to this roundtable discussion, and share with fellow market managers and vendors. Expect to find commiseration, celebration, and even a few solutions! (With Hanne Tierney, Portland Farmers’ Market Association; Mike Bahner, Camden Farmers’ Market; and Sherie Blumenthal, Lewiston Farmers’ Market. Augusta/Pine Tree/Capital Room)
- Feeding More Mainers Through FINI and Beyond: A SNAP Roundtable Discussion – Join MFFM and members of the Maine Local Foods Access Network for a conversation on SNAP programming, funding, and what your market should be doing to sustain its program in the long-term. (With Leah Hancock, Wholesome Wave and Jimmy DeBiasi, Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets. Washington/York Room)
- Finding Your Way – Round Table for Vendors New to Markets – Do you have just a year or two of marketing under your belt, or maybe less? Not sure if farmers’ markets are the venue for you? This session is a round-table discussion, so the conversation could go anywhere around this subject. Bring your questions and prepare to learn more about starting out at farmers’ markets. (With Carole Mapes, Ellsworth Farmers’ Market and Courtney Williams, Orono Farmers’ Market. Sagadahoc Room)
Drop-in Sessions (all day)
- USDA Food & Nutrition Service Drop-In – Debbie Crosby of the USDA FNS will be available all day to answer questions about SNAP implementation at farms and farmers’ markets. She will sign up new vendors on site, and will also be able to transfer FNS# assignments for markets that have changed leadership.
- DACF Scales Testing – Drop your scales off in the morning, and DACF Inspector of Weights and Measures David Flannery will test them and certify them for the season. Cost is $5 each for most scales.