Community Leaders Call to Action: The North Dakota Farmer’s Market Opportunity
In 2018, Dakota College at Bottineau received the Farmers Market Promotional Program Grant. The purpose of this grant was to increase the capacity of North Dakota Farmers Markets. There was a challenge, however. It was found that North Dakota’s rural volunteer-run farmers markets lack the time, resources, and training to effectively meet increased consumer demand. One of the objectives of this grant was to provide a Farmers Market Marketing Workshop to incorporate the findings of the marketing needs assessment and learnings from the project. This workshop would also provide advanced marketing strategies for farmers market managers.
A virtual workshop was held on March 15, 2022. Quinn Renfandt, Dakota College, partnered with the Dakota Resource Council to put the workshop together. Not only was the workshop held via Zoom, it was also published in 145 different media publications between March 16th and March 22nd. Thanks to the work of Quinn Renfandt and Dakota Resource Council, the information in this workshop reached approximately 1.1 million people.
The workshop called upon the community leaders to come together and learn how they may have a role within the Farmers Markets around North Dakota. New approaches to strengthen the community development function of Farmers Markets and equipping stakeholders with a course of action for the future was introduced. The two keynote speakers included Dr. Becca Jablonski and Simone Wai. Dr. Jablonski, assistant professor and food systems economist, focused on understanding processes of rural and regional development with an emphasis on identifying strategies to support entrepreneurship, improve agribusiness performance and enhance regional food systems. During the workshop Jablonski talked about her personal research in local food system economics. Simone Wai, community builder and co-founder of Folkways, uses immersive experiences to solve problems in the community like workforce retention, economic vitality, and communal belonging. During the workshop, Wai talked about the Red River Market in Fargo and the impact it has on the local economy. There was also an open mic panel where Jonathan Moser, a local vendor in Bismarck, talked about the needs of vendors for a more diverse leadership team for running farmers markets.
According to Quinn, “By showing how the farmers market is part of a larger regional food system, then bringing to light a real-world example right here in our region and bringing it full circle with a vendor’s perspective calling leaders to action, the workshop brought forth the potential of North Dakota Farmers Markets”.