WHAT WE DO
The purpose of the VTFMA is to encourage and establish successful farmers markets in Vermont that enhance direct marketing opportunities for market vendors while building direct connections between vendors and local consumers.
To fulfill this purpose of supporting Vermont’s farmers markets, VTFMA lead the efforts to:
Facilitate communication, information gathering & sharing, and networking among VTFMA farmers markets members,
Promote farmers markets throughout the state, and
Serve as the voice for farmers markets in the state.
Board of Directors
Crystal Gardner, Bennington Farmers Market
Sherry Maher, Brattleboro Winter Farmers Market
Cassie Morse, Northfield Farmers Market
Jessica Roberts, Arlington Farmers Market
Keri Ryan, Capital City Farmers Market
Laura Streets, Morrisville Farmers Market
Cindy Walcott, Champlain Islands Farmers Market
Advisory (Non-voting) Members
Mieko Ozeki, Vermont Womenpreneurs
Debralyn Stempel, Arlington Farmers Market
Grand Isle County
Farmers markets started being organized in Vermont in the 1970s. In the early days of farmers markets, NOFA-VT helped establish and support these markets. They began in the larger cities and towns, and by 1986 had spread throughout the state. When NOFA-VT first formally surveyed farmers markets in 1986, 19 were active.
The seeds of the Vermont Federation of Farmers Markets (VFFM) started in 1980 when a group of marketers met in Randolph to share ideas and technical support. The VFFM was incorporated in 1982 to"promote the marketing of Vermont products and to promote farmers markets." The VFFM provided information and assistance to markets and individual vendors on the "nuts and bolts of organizing and running markets." The Vermont Federation of Farmers Markets disbanded in 1998 due to a lack of coordinated leadership.
In 2000, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Market (VAAFM) and NOFA-VT partnered to administer mini-grants. Funded by the VAAFM, these grants were administered by NOFA-VT from 2001-2004. As part of the evaluation of the mini-grant program, NOFA-VT asked the farmers what was needed to support the development of farmers markets in Vermont. A majority of those responding asked for NOFA-VT to reinstitute a network of farmers markets in Vermont, and to reexamine the role of a Vermont Farmers Market Association. With that call, NOFA-VT started holding networking meetings of farmers who direct market (farmers markets, farm stands and Community Supported Agriculture) in 2003. In the winter of 2004-2005 NOFA-VT held regional meetings in Norwich, Hardwick, Manchester and Bristol for market managers and board officers to ask, "What steps need to be taken to elevate farmers markets in Vermont, and what role could an Association take to get us there?" Based on the input from those regional meetings, a 2005 Farmers Market Work Plan was drafted and presented at a statewide Vermont Farmers Market Forum in the end of January 2005. This Work Plan included developing a Vermont Farmers Market Association (VTFMA) with NOFA-VT acting as the parent organization.
In 2006, NOFA-VT contracted with the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) to meet with representatives from farmers markets (managers, vendors, board members) and market supporters (non-profits, state agency representatives, researchers, educators) to design an organizational framework for the VTFMA and draft by-laws. In 2007, the markets in Vermont were asked to formally vote to create the VTFMA and the first official meeting was held in January 2008. At this meeting, the VTFMA voted in favor of a 13 member Board of Directors and ratified the organization's purpose. In February, the Board of Directors held their first meeting, which established project priorities, committees, and board officers. The VTFMA Board of Directors elected to continue to operate under the umbrella of NOFA-VT, with NOFA-VT providing fiscal sponsorship, and continues to maintain this partnership today.