Iowa Farmers Market Manager Toolkit

Farmers Markets are one of the most important ways that consumers connect with and understand their local food system. Though the vendors are the face of the market for most shoppers, the market manager plays a pivotal role in the success of both vendors and the market itself. In Iowa, many market managers are volunteers and many have been market vendors themselves. This Toolkit was developed to help make being a manager a little easier so that farmers markets–and our local food systems–continue to grow. 

This toolkit is comprised of three distinct pieces:

The Vendor Handouts are a series of 1-page handouts intended to make being a market manager a little easier by helping you set your vendors up for success. They are full of information, resources, insights from existing vendors, and answers to frequently asked questions for everyone from the curious future vendor (Do I need a license? How do I track sales?) to the twenty-year veteran vendor (Should I invest in professional branding?).

The Iowa Farmers Market Manager Handbook combines broad best practices with ideas and encouragement from real Iowa farmers market managers. This place-based approach offers potential market managers and existing market managers in Iowa an opportunity to connect with colleagues from similarly sized towns, provide their boards or committees with justification and inspiration, and fuel grant applications and private sponsorships.  

The Lettuce Grow Training Series  is a series of online videos created by recording trainings that took place from 2017-2019 around the State of Iowa. Each video features an experienced market manager and vendor providing insight on farmers markets.

This Toolkit is meant to complement the existing booklet published by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and resources provided by the Iowa Farmers Market Association. It was developed with the generous involvement of market managers from across the state, as well as extension, non-profit, and government agency staff.

Special thanks to all those that provided input into the development of the this toolkit and all the work you do for Farmers Markets in Iowa.

A project of:

USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grants (Award No. #16-FMPP-IA-0027) supported this work. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this Toolkit is for educational purposes to assist farmers market management in improving their market operations. This material is not intended, and should not be used, as a substitute or replacement for individual legal, financial, or actuarial advice. Each market organization should consult a relevant professional advisor when making business decisions as appropriate.