At the corner of Magazine and Girod Streets, freshly harvested green beans change hands for cash as they do every Saturday morning since the Crescent City Farmers Market opened on the site in 1995. On this particular Saturday, the organizers of the farmers market marketumbrella.org will also share news of how green beans impact greenbacks with the release of their 2009 Economic Impact Study.
According to the report, the Crescent City Farmers Market operates twice weekly at two different locations with a combined economic impact of $8.9 million upon its vendors, host neighborhoods, and surrounding region. The report, called SEED: the Sticky Economy Evaluation Device, was developed by the Market’s sponsoring organization, the 501c3 nongovernmental organization marketumbrella.org to capture what Executive Director Richard McCarthy describes as “the often surprising if not furtive economic impact of the original business incubator, the farmers market.”
The numbers appear to support this claim: The twice weekly Crescent City attracts 98,600 visits from shoppers over a year resulting in gross combined receipts of $3.1 million. Once at the Market, 24.5% of shoppers spend money at nearby businesses resulting in $1.8 million in projected gross receipts. Information collected through customer intercept surveys, the report also indicates that these sales result in an annual contribution of $161,753 to local sales tax revenue.
McCarthy also describes how “the very sight of tents and umbrellas gives the impression of an informal and therefore insignificant economic activity, whereas in fact it is highly efficient, entreprising, and democratic.” The national Farmers Market Coalition, of which McCarthy served as its first President in 2007, reports how these umbrellas are beginning to add up: USDA reported how in 2008 there are 4,865 farmers markets operating in the USA — a 170% increase in ten years.
In the Greater New Orleans region, this growth is evident in nearly every neighborhood and town square. On a weekly basis, there are at least 12 farmers markets from which consumers can shop with regional farmers and fishers.
Working with the Farmers Market Coalition, USDA has designated the
first week of August as National Farmers Market Week to celebrate
farmers markets as institutions with a triple bottom-line of impacts
upon communities – financial, human, and social.
Working in tandem with the Coalition, marketumbrella.org is developing a trio of tools to measure these impacts for a growing field of markets. Its first tool SEED was developed with support from the F.B. Heron and Ford Foundations. Utilizing the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ RIMS II economic multiplier methodology, marketumbrella.org devised a customer intercept survey script with political pollster Ed Renwick to evaluate consumer behavior at markets. Still in its pilot stage, SEED is a free, online measurement tool that has been used by over 85 markets throughout the USA. In September 2009, marketumbrella.org will release the SEED tool’s latest version for all markets to use.
Marketumbrella.org is a 501c3 nongovernmental organization based in New Orleans but operating globally to cultivate the field of public markets for public good. With a staff of ten, the organization utilizes its emblematic Crescent City Farmers Market as a platform for innovation, learning, and sharing with this growing field. The full SEED Economic Impact Study can be found online at marketumbrella.org. The fruits and vegetables can be purchased each and every Tuesday and Saturday at the Crescent City Farmers Market. For times and locations, log onto CrescentCityFarmersMarket.org.
Market Umbrella is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), based in New Orleans, whose mission is to cultivate the field of public markets for public good. Market Umbrella has operated the Crescent City Farmers Markets (CCFM) since 1995.
The Crescent City Farmers Market operates weekly year-round in four New Orleans neighborhoods. The CCFM hosts nearly 80 local small farmers, fishers and food producers, and more than 100,000 shoppers annually.