2011 FMPP Proposal
Wording of the proposal to the USDA Farmers Marketing Promotion Program that awarded a $70,701 grant in October of 2011 for the purpose of funding MFFM activities for two years. The grant will be administered by the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments in Fairfield, our fiscal sponsor for this grant.
Project Title: Establishment
Of The Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets For The Purpose Of
Improving And Increasing Direct Marketing To Consumers In Maine
Communities And Food Desert Tracts
Kennebec Valley Council of Governments
Contact: Kenneth C. Young,
Jr., Executive Director
Address: 17 Main Street,
Fairfield, ME 04937
Refer Questions To:
Project Manager Anne Saggese – 207-322-0651 –
- 3. Primary
Project Manager Information.
Anne Saggese, Project
Maine Federation of
22 Jesse Robbins Road
Belfast, ME 04915
Cell: 207-322-0651 Fax:
207-453-4264 Email: email@example.com
FMPP Funding and Matching Funds.
The applicant is
requesting a grant in the amount of $70,701.
Equipment, Supplies, and Promotional Projects.
The proposal includes the
request for support for equipment (computer, printer); for supplies
related to promotional and educational activities; and for website
and electronic newsletter development as well as production and
mailing costs for other promotional materials. The proposal does not
include an EBT component.
The Kennebec Valley
Council of Governments (KVCOG) is a Public Benefit/Economic
Development Corporation assisting municipal service providers in
Maine communities located in Kennebec, Somerset, and western Waldo
Counties. As proof of our eligibility to assume responsibility as
the fiscal sponsor for this proposal, KVCOG is enclosing a copy of
its 501(c)(3) determination letter from the Internal Revenue
Service. Our CCR registration is valid until 06/09/2012, and our
DUNS number is 962297925.
Despite a 300-year
history in direct-to-consumer marketing at farmers' markets
throughout Maine, the state's farmers, producers and their customers
have never had a central point of contact that provides
communication, promotional assistance, professional development, and
consumer information. With the exception of municipally organized
markets, each of the 132 markets that exist today was assembled by
local volunteers and has thrived (or not) by trial and error.
Innumerable communities remain underserved in access to locally
sourced fresh food.
addresses start-up support needed to formally launch the Maine
Federation of Farmers' Markets (MFFM) in January 2012 and to assist
with capacity building and program development in the organization's
first two years of operations. The outline of work to be
accomplished is based upon the research, discussions and planning
accomplished over the past 18 months by a statewide steering
committee. Its members represent Maine's growers, producers, market
managers, and representatives of other farm agencies and
organizations. Together, they have created a vision, mission and
detailed plan for meeting the needs of farmers' markets and
consumers. MFFM's niche has been designed to benefit from close
collaboration and partnerships with agencies and other organizations
involved in agriculture, social services and community development.
8. Goals of
The goal of this project
is to launch the new Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets with a
strong organizational foundation, a realistic and sustainable
financial plan, and enough useful programs in our initial operations
to convince farmers that these services are well worth their
investment in Federation membership. With adequate start-up funding,
it is possible to pull together a market-oriented network of
existing information, services, and community leaders who share a
common purpose—all of which already exist in Maine—eliminating
the burden on each of our 100+ existing markets and future markets
to scramble to locate these resources on their own.
Based on data from
the 2010 market season, Maine now has more than 100 summer farmers'
markets, 21 winter markets, and approximately 500 farmer/producer
market members. Nearly all of these markets operate independently of
each other as member-driven cooperatives. Others are sponsored or
managed by town governments, Grange Halls, a Main Street community
revitalization program, or other civic endeavors. Very few enjoy
professional management, and most are managed by the vendors
themselves on a voluntary basis.
the points of commonality and communication between these markets
depend upon growers and producers who participate in more than one
Therefore, the flow of information from one market to the next often
reflects personal opinions and interpretations that can be
incomplete or unreliable at best.
links between markets have worked adequately for the better part of
three centuries, but the Information Age is catching up to Maine's
farmers. People are worried about food safety, and they learn about
recalls of tainted food products within hours. Our farmers are left
to roll the dice on conflicting advice from six or more "experts"
on cable network shows, who recommend that the recall will help or
will hurt the sales of, say, spinach in stores, restaurants and
farmers' markets around the world.
As a consequence of
this global information highway, Maine farmers are increasingly
called upon to talk authoritatively about their products. Safe,
healthy, affordable, locally sustainable food is an internationally
trendy topic at the moment, and we want to be opportunistic in
capitalizing on this wave of interest before it passes us by. Many
of our market members are confident of their skills and knowledge,
highly engaging when they take advantage of these teachable moments,
and prepared to ace each "know your farmer" opportunity.
Many more are not at all comfortable in this role and would prefer
to have factual educational and promotional materials at hand.
of the original Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets (1991-1997):
organized the original Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets in 1991
and worked over a six-year period to help meet the organizational
needs of the farmers’ markets, to respond to marketing and
regulatory questions raised by the vendors, and to encourage Maine
communities to patronize these markets and establish new markets
representatives of the Federation staffed exhibition booths at
statewide and regional events. They provided technical assistance to
the Maine Department of Agriculture in updating several titles in
the agency's series of vegetable pamphlets. The Federation's
membership benefits included a quarterly newsletter focusing on
technical assistance to the vendors, coordination of a cooperative
bulk purchasing program, and sponsorship of a mentoring program that
paired new vendors with experienced vendors.
This first effort
to sustain a statewide Federation ceased as an organization in 1997,
citing volunteer burnout. One early founder, Tom Roberts of
Snakeroot Organic Farm, still hosts the original MFFM website and
updates grower and market information as time allows. Roberts
contributes his institutional knowledge of these early efforts as a
member of the current MFFM steering committee
of the new Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets (2009-Present): The
Washington Hancock Community Agency's Down East Business Alliance
(WHCA/DBA) deserves recognition and credit for helping to keep the
spark of the original MFFM alive. They provide services to a growing
number of small family farms in their two-county service area. The
agency began to realize that the dearth of professional development
services geared toward direct sellers of agricultural products was
getting in the way of achieving their goals for both farm viability
and value-added farm-based micro-business opportunities. In
response, the agency successfully sought funds from USDA's Farmers
Market Promotion Program to provide this kind of training its first
statewide Maine Farmers’ Market Convention in 2009.
For the state's
farmer-vendors, this was the first opportunity in Maine's history to
meet together as a group to talk about common issues. They received
real value from time spent in two days of well-planned workshops
featuring experts on a variety of useful topics. This first
convention and the convention that followed in 2010 spurred renewed
interest in a statewide farmers' market association.
In December 2010,
WHCA/DBA hosted a dozen farmer-vendors (mostly market managers) from
around the state to talk seriously about the need and practicality
of resuscitating the Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets. The
meeting included representatives from the Maine Department of
Agriculture, the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association, and
the University of Maine's Agricultural Extension Service.
Participants arrived with results from pre-assigned research into
the services other state associations are providing to farm vendors
and to the public. We left this meeting as a newly formed steering
committee with a set of additional "homework assignments"
based upon the group's unanimous commitment to create and launch a
useful, sustainable organization.
WHCA/DBA and the
new MFFM steering committee then designed a survey to measure basic
interest in a statewide association; e.g., to confirm the need for
an association; willingness to join and participate; willingness to
pay dues to support such services. A small initial survey was
conducted in January 2011 among farmers participating in the Maine
Department of Agriculture's annual trade show in Augusta.
the 57 respondents, 38 felt that a statewide association would
benefit their local markets; 14 said "maybe" and wanted to
be kept informed; one was a definite "no" and four were
non-responsive to this specific question. Financial
sustainability was the vital underlying organizational question
being measured: 49 among the 57 respondents expressed willingness to
pay annual dues in support of an effective statewide association.
The survey format
also asked about needs. Responses to our check-off list of fairly
obvious networking, training and membership benefits moved the MFFM
steering committee forward in sorting out priorities for useful,
achievable programs. Overall, the survey demonstrated that market
members and other farmers and producers are primarily looking for
promotional tools to expand local marketing opportunities. They are
also strongly motivated to take advantage of ongoing professional
development for themselves and staff.
A few weeks later,
MFFM began building upon this data with survey responses from more
than 100 of the participants at the third Maine Farmers’
Market Convention. The results closely paralleled results from the
earlier Augusta trade show survey with respect to market members'
needs and their commitments to participating in a statewide
At this convention,
WHCA/DBA and the MFFM steering committee hosted an open meeting to
update farmers on organizational progress. Some sixty participants
signaled their desire to be onboard and talked about programming
potential in far greater detail than simple data collection provided
by the survey form. Quite a few were willing to invest time and
effort as additional members on the MFFM steering committee,
resulting in the current group of 20 market members (the majority of
whom are also market managers), representing 38 markets across the
A list of the
steering committee members is enclosed, providing the location of
their farming operations and the markets in which they participate.
All but two of these individuals are founders, managers or officers
in one or more markets:
Prior to the
opening of the market season in May 2011, members of the steering
committee also began a systematic survey of their own markets to
assess the fiscal sustainability of the endeavor. Preliminary
results from these first formal "asks" for membership have
been encouraging. Nineteen of the 38 markets represented by steering
committee members made immediate pledges to join MFFM this year,
committing to annual dues ranging from $50 to $300 (currently tiered
to the number of market members at each location) . Others indicated
their intent to join, but will need formal approval of dues payments
in the budget process for the 2012 season.
steering committee has maintained a continuous and fruitful
discussion among themselves and with other individuals and
organizations. This work has resulted to date in a vision statement
for a statewide federation, a mission statement, a
working draft of bylaws,
an outline of targeted areas of service, including an assessment of
the resources needed to implement and manage each of these programs.
Federation currently depends upon volunteers who are farmers and
producers approaching the height of their growing and marketing
season, very little further work is likely to occur until these
markets close in mid-October. Unfortunately, this occurs at the time
of year when fellow market members most need the services of the
Federation. This underscores our need for a staff person to attend
to the needs of both markets and consumers on a daily basis.
We will continue to
be guided in this work by a broad vision for meeting these needs, as
outlined by our Mission Statement:
To cultivate a vibrant and
sustainable farmers' market community;
To provide a forum and
repository for the exchange of ideas and resources; and
To be an effective liaison
and voice for promotion, education and advocacy.
With Other Organizations: Alliances
with outside organizations have grown steadily throughout this
process, particularly at the local level where steering committee
members are testing ideas for program development. The following
statewide alliances have already evolved into specific collaboration
as the Federation begins to develop of information networks,
programs and projects:
Development Foundation's Maine Downtown Center
is a primary source of technical assistance for virtually every
community engaged in multi-faceted, long-term revitalization
projects. As their letter of support for this application
demonstrates, collaboration with the Center can be an efficient
means of identifying under-served communities that are already open
to and searching for new services to stimulate business and
contribute toward quality of life.
commitment to preserving farmland and strengthening farming in Maine
shares solidly common ground with the Federation's goals. MFT's
enclosed letter of support details the organizational assistance
they have offered. Three other MFT initiatives invite a closely
coordinated collaborative relationship:
Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association: MOFGA
serves on the Federation's steering committee and will be a primary
source of grower and marketing information to be provided to market
members and the public. Specifically, MFFM currently plans to
consumer pamphlets (e.g., fruits and vegetables; monthly harvest,
storage and recipe brochures; alerts and control methods for current
pest and blight invasions; other "how to" publications of
interest to growers, producers and consumers);
Regional School District #20 and similar initiatives throughout the
markets in dozens of Maine communities are playing important roles
as motivators, educators and suppliers in the wave of local
initiatives to provide healthier food in school lunchrooms. The
RSU20 project in the Belfast area is funded through the USDA's Fresh
Fruits and Vegetables Program. Connections to farmers and producers
who can provide these schools with locally sourced food are being
coordinated through a Belfast-based officer of the MFFM. In time,
MFFM hopes to expand upon this growing awareness of children's
nutritional needs by working directly with parents to provide
information about balanced nutrition and simple cooking techniques
at home. One of the most formidable barriers to marketing fresh food
in low-income and single-parent households has proven to be a
generational increase in the number of people with minimal or no
"from scratch" cooking skills.
Hancock Community Association/Down East Business Alliance:
WHCA/DBA serves on the Federation's steering committee and will
continue to host its annual farmers' market convention at which the
Federation's future Annual Meetings will be held. The Federation
will work closely with WHCA/DBA in helping to develop a strong
program of speakers and training sessions at these events.
and Resource Requirements.
The term of the
project is two years, commencing October 1, 2011 and concluding on
September 30 2013. During this two-year period, the Kennebec Valley
Council of Governments will serve as fiscal sponsor, requiring
monthly progress reports from the Maine Federation of Farmers'
Markets and timely, thorough documentation of all eligible
expenditures of grant funds for which reimbursement is being
requested. In addition to being held accountable by KVCOG for fiscal
activities, KVCOG will verify continuing performance and fulfillment
the activities proposed, as well as adherence to the timeline and
steering committee and subsequent Board of Directors of the MFFM
will be responsible for management of the specific components of the
work funded: organizational development, program and project
development, and delivery of these new services to market members of
the organization. They will also be responsible for hiring and
directing the work of an employee whose salary package will be fully
funded by FMPP grant funds in the first year of the project and
partially funded in the second year. The Federation feels it is
important in the second year to begin to demonstrate the
organization's capability to become financially sustainable through
dues and other Maine-based funding sources.
work plan, timeline, assessment of resources needed, and benchmarks
follows. The work plan is intentionally generic in when addressing
tasks related to program development and delivery of market
services. This is not because MFFM lacks ideas and planning for
programs and services. It is because market surveys have identified
market needs for a start-up organization to tackle effectively in
the first two years of operation. The steering committee is engaged
in setting priorities. We are also talking with other agricultural,
social services, and economic development entities to determine
whether they might be better suited to take on some of these
projects with a commitment from MFFM to assist. Much of this work
has been side-stepped over the years simply because the effort for
an outsider to identify and communicate with the appropriate
farmers' market members is akin to herding cats. Our initial efforts
will occur as follows:
steering committee will arrange for and furnish office space and
will conclude staff hiring process. Start-up costs supported by the
grant will include the salary package, rent, phone service, and a
computer and printer. MFFA will fund or obtain in-kind donations of
furnishings and office supplies. Staff and a steering committee
member will meet with Pica Design in Belfast (business credentials
and price estimates enclosed) to discuss website design, the
newsletter, letterhead, business cards, brochures and banners in
order to coordinate an effective, recognizable "brand" for
MFFA materials. Staff will also begin on an ongoing basis to collect
and organize all available information about existing markets. Grant
costs for rent, phone service and salary package. Benchmark:
Successful candidate will assume part-time position in established
office space no later than Oct 15th.
and steering committee will begin to build collaborative
relationships with agencies and other organizations. Steering
committee will develop a "State of the Markets" vendor
survey to be mailed to all known market members in December and will
begin planning for MFFM's first Annual Meeting and board election in
late January 2012. Staff will work with Washington Hancock Community
Agency/Down East Business Alliance to arrange for facilities for the
Annual Meeting and create a MFFM workshop and presence at the Maine
Farmers’ Market Convention in late January. Staff will visit
at least five winter markets prior to December 31. Website will
launch in November with a holiday market campaign featured. Grant
Resources Needed: Rent,
phone service, salary; website design and placement costs; travel
expenses to winter markets. Benchmarks:
launched; contact established with four agencies or organizations;
task assignments made for planning of Annual Meeting.
will mail the vendor survey to approximately 500 known market
members and continue visits to winter markets. Grant
Resources Needed: Rent,
phone service, salary; printing and postage costs for survey; travel
survey mailed. Staff completes five or more visits to winter
and steering committee will begin to attend as many summer market
planning meetings as feasible between now and April. Steering
committee will finalize plans for Annual Meeting and board elections
at the Maine Farmers' Market Convention in late January. Grant
Resources Needed: Rent,
phone service, salary; travel expenses to market planning meetings.
of MFFM directors and officers; board discussion and action plan for
completion of drafts of a vision statement, mission statement,
by-laws, budget, membership development plan, funding plan, articles
of incorporation and application for appropriate federal tax status.
March and April 2012:
Board will complete organizational documents, file for incorporation
with the State of Maine and the appropriate federal tax status.
compile responses to vendor survey and provide results to the board
for use in program development and creating work plans. Staff and
directors will continue to attend planning meetings for summer
markets and to make contacts to broaden the MFFM network. Staff will
be assisted by volunteers and other organizations in preparing a
series of promotional materials. Staff will prepare an MFFM update
to be mailed to all known vendors on May 1, containing news
developments over the winter months; expectations for the coming
season; and an announcement of services now available from the
Federation. Work will begin on any specific projects to be
undertaken jointly with other organizations. Board will conduct a
six-month performance review of staff sometime in April. Grant
Resources Needed: Rent,
phone service, salary; travel costs to markets; printing and postage
for vendor mailing
travel expenses to summer market planning meetings. Benchmarks:
completion and board approval of organizational documents; articles
of incorporation certified; application for tax status filed with
the IRS; staff or directors or original steering committee members
will have visited market sites or attended planning meetings over
the past 18 months at 80% or more of Maine's farmers' markets; news
update mailed to market members.
through October 2012:
Members will be running their farms and market stands but will
commit to remaining available for advice and support of the staff.
Staff will continue compiling market information, implementing
existing programs, and traveling once a month to different region in
Maine to make new contacts with market members. Promotional
materials will be widely distributed for use by markets. Working
with Pica Design, staff will develop an electronic weekly newsletter
for market customers during the summer season. Pica will design the
first section of the newsletter to allow staff to provide
individualized information for each geographic region, including
location of markets, current harvest, and special events. Other
newsletter features will include veggie and fruit bios as they come
into season; market-of-the-week features; recipes (a rotating
selection of three meals from the following categories: “Quick
‘n’ Easy”, “For the Working Parent”,
“Sunday Supper”, “3 Day’s Worth of Yum”,
“Master Chef”, “Around the World Here in Maine”
and “One Pot Wonders”); and other material submitted by
market members or other volunteer sources. Newsletter materials with
lasting value will be archived and readily searchable on the MFFM
website. Board will conduct one-year performance review of staff in
October and act upon any mutually agreeable changes in operations or
needs for additional training. Grant
Resources Needed: Rent,
phone service, salary; travel expenses for market visits;
professional newsletter development costs. Benchmarks:
newsletter design and distribute weekly to market customers;
performance review of staff conducted and acted upon as necessary.
2012 - January 2013:
Board will assess organizational capacity; review program
development including growth in membership and funding capabilities;
and will assess progress on projects and delivery of services to
market members. Planning and policy documents will be updated to
reflect the results of these reviews. Development of the 2013 budget
will put emphasis on concluding the year's activities as a
self-sufficient, sustainable organization. Board will plan for the
organization's second Annual Meeting in January 2013. Staff will
work with Washington Hancock Community Agency/Down East Business
Alliance to plan additional MFFM activities at the annual farmers'
market convention. Based on ongoing research and market visits,
staff will prepare a “State of the Markets” report on
sales, marketing and promotion, etc. Grant
Resources Needed: Rent
and phone service; travel to winter markets; partial salary. Note
that on November 1, 2012, MFFM will assume responsibility for half
of the staff salary package during the remaining year in the term of
the grant. Benchmarks:
of organizational and program needs and performance with an action
plan for updating the organization's policies and activities as
necessary. Completion of research and analysis on the "State of
the Markets" report to guide further development work.
- April 2013:
Board or staff will attend any market planning meetings that will be
beneficial to MFFM or market members. Staff will maintain website
and work during the winter months to prepare promotional and
newsletter materials for use when markets resume in the spring,
including the annual spring mailing to all market members in the
state. Staff and board will work in close coordination with other
organizations in initiating contacts with community leaders in
underserved communities, including Maine's food desert tracts, to
begin developing interest in the introduction of locally sourced
food to these areas. We will concentrate our resources initially on
food desert tracts where local partnerships readily arise, knowing
that in this first round MFFM cannot effectively respond to the
needs of all 21 tracts in Maine.
in January, reliance on the funds from the FMPP program will begin a
weaning process and MFFM will assume the cost, in part or full, of
the categories that are now providing a service to the existing
markets that are contributing directly to their market’s
Resources Needed: Partial
rent/salary; phone service; travel costs to markets and underserved
communities. Note that in January 2013 through the remainder of the
grant period, MFFM will begin to assume responsibility for 20% of
its rent costs, increasing its participation in rent costs again in
May 2013 to 50%.
work to establish new markets in underserved communities, including
food desert tracts.
- September 2013:
Staff mail out spring newsletter to all market members in Maine and
continue ongoing contacts with existing markets. Staff and
experienced market members will travel to all food desert tracts and
other underserved communities to meet with community leaders about
the benefits of access to affordable, healthy, locally sourced food.
Resources Needed: Partial
rent/salary package; phone service; travel expenses to farm desert
tracts and other underserved communities.
spring newsletter and other promotional materials for market member
use; at a minimum, complete board/staff visits to the 21 food desert
tracts in Maine.
Outcomes And Project Evaluation:
expected from efforts of the steering committee, and supported by
funding from FMPP, is the creation of a fully functioning,
financially self-sustainable support network for Maine farmers and
producers engaged in direct-to-consumer marketing: the Maine
Federation of Farmers' Markets.
MFFM has a great deal to learn about the use of performance
measurements as evaluation criteria for use of grant funds and as an
internal strategic planning tools. The Maine Association of
Nonprofits offers excellent training in this discipline, and MFFM
would be pleased in the meantime to act upon any suggestions a FMPP
grant manager cares to offer.
Because this is a
proposal for support of start-up and capacity building activities,
MFFM is electing to use simple performance measurements:
contact over the two-year period of the grant with every existing
farmers' market in Maine to determine demographics, market members'
needs, potential for growth and willingness to participate in MFFM.
100% successfully contacted.
in two years a full range of materials for market members and
consumers that support marketing efforts, promotion of locally
sourced foods, and other aspects of consumer education outreach
material - website, newsletter, pieces for local media outlets.
Complete an assessment of what is needed and what is available from
various sources; create additional materials that satisfy needs
expressed by a majority of market members surveyed.
The primary beneficiaries
of the project are farmers, who will strongly benefit from a network
that links them together in common purpose and fulfills their needs
for communication, marketing and promotional assistance, and
professional development. Equally valuable benefits will flow to
consumers who have not yet been introduced to the benefits and
availability of locally sourced fresh foods. Economic and social
revitalization in Maine's communities, including those situated in
food desert tracts, will also result from work accomplished by the
Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets and its market members.
See Item #13 in which the
benchmarks serve as our evaluation criteria.
And Pending Support
MFFM currently has
pledges from farmers' markets to provide $6,000 in the 2012 season
to support of start-up costs. Additional markets have indicated
interest and will include MFFM dues in their budget process next
winter for 2013 support. Our plans for further membership
development are previously discussed in this proposal.
Supplemental Budget Summary.
The information requested
is included in the enclosed budget spreadsheet.
Start-up and build
sufficient capacity for a statewide federation to provide support to
existing farmers' markets and seek opportunities to create new
17. Primary Proposal
The primary proposal
activity is completion of the final organizational work in creating
and staffing the Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets.
Completed form is
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