This week I attended the TOFGA Conference for the first time. John and I always thought you had to be an Organically Certified farm/ranch to be a member of this organization, so we never thought to pursue membership or to attend the conferences. (This misperception was discussed at the member meeting). Attending the conference this year was a last-minute decision spurred by a conversation with a friend at the Elgin Farmers Market. Emma mentioned that the conference would hold a “Texas Network of Farmers Markets Meet Up” which was just what I had been looking for. In the process of registering for the meet-up, I discovered that there would be farmers market sessions held throughout the conference.
This information (along with the fact that it was being held in Georgetown) sealed the deal for me – I checked with John and pulled the trigger. The decision to drop everything at the last minute and wasn't a hard one for me - I LOVE conferences! I am also blessed with a husband willing to cover our weekday markets and a great team of board members who were able to step in and run the Taylor Market during my absence.
I was energized by the opportunity to network with other market managers and by learning about TXFED (Texas Food Education and Discovery), an initiative of the Texas Center for Local Food. Their mission is to provide producers and farmers markets with assistance in increasing revenues, creating new markets, and creating jobs that lead to economic sustainability for local food systems in Texas. The amount of resources they have for market managers is astounding - I cannot emphasize enough how exciting this initiative is to me.
When I took on the management of the Taylor market, I had only been a vendor for about a year. I knew next to nothing about running a farmers market. I spent many hours searching for information online and while I did find some great resources none were for/from market leaders here in Texas. Did you know that Texas ranks 48 in the country in number of local farmers markets? Neither did I - but I believe it. Did you know that more than half of all market managers are unpaid volunteers who work other jobs as well? Many vendors are also working full time elsewhere to make ends meet.
I was energized by the opportunity to network with other market managers and excited to learn about TXFED (Texas Food Education & Discovery), an educational initiative of the Texas Center for Local Food. Their goal is to help producers and farmers markets to increase customers and sales, develop new market opportunities, and create jobs leading to economic sustainability of Texas local food systems. This wonderful group will make a huge difference in the quality and resilience of both my market and our business by providing education, resources, and invaluable networking opportunities.