As explained by Michelle Wolf, instructor of the Ontario Market Manager Certification (OMMC) program, building partnerships and engaging your community is essential to a successful and sustainable farmers’ market.

Developing solid relationships with community partners will strengthen their involvement in your market and contribute to your market’s long-term viability. The bottom line is, partnering with members of your community will lead to greater overall success for your market.

Who are your potential partners?

There are many community partners out there that can-and want-to contribute to your market. For example, potential partners can include other businesses, local government and councilors, schools and educational institutes, non-profit organizations and health and social services. The more people and organizations involved in partnerships with your market, the more success your market will achieve.

A partnership can look like someone serving on the market’s board of directors, assisting with market operations like set-up and tear down, helping with fundraising or grant writing, collaborating on promotional plans and press releases or providing financial support.

Contacting potential partners can sometimes feel like an intimidating and daunting task. These four need-to-know tips will help you create lasting relationships from the start.

Here are four tips for securing potential partnerships.

  1. Approach partners that genuinely align with your market’s mission

When reaching out to potential partners for the first time, you must contact partners that are actually an ideal fit for your market. Present your market’s mission statement (a statement that clearly outlines your market’s purpose) and explain how and why the person or organization is a partner that aligns with your markets’ values.

Remember, if you pick partners that aren’t suited to your markets vision, neither party will benefit and the relationship will be meaningless.

  1. Explain how each party will benefit

To encourage the partner to support your market, establish how both parties will benefit from the agreement.

Make sure you have answered the following questions:

-Why should the partner support your market?

-What are the potential gains to the partner?

-What are the potential benefits from this partnership for the whole community?

  1. Emphasize the important relationship between your market and the community

You must inform your potential partners of the important role that the market plays within the community. This will allow the partner to see the market as a worthwhile investment.

Include the following points when reaching out:

-Farmers’ markets bring people together and help create healthy communities

-Farmers’ markets provide access to fresh, nutritious food and strengthen food security within communities

-Markets bring people to central gathering areas, generating spin-off business and an economic ‘spill over’ effect for other downtown or near-by businesses

-Markets create an environment where local farmers can sell their food at a higher profit margin, which benefits the local economy, preserves agricultural land, and ensures there is an in-tact farming sector available for the next generation to live into

-Farmers’ markets drive the development of local food systems, educate consumers about the diversity of seasonal, local food products and create a market for local niche and value-added businesses

-Farmers’ markets are great incubators for small businesses and can create entry opportunities for everyone in the community

  1. Provide a press kit with all of this information

Assemble a press kit that has the above information clearly laid out: your markets’ mission statement, how each party will benefit and why partnering with your farmers’ market is a smart idea. Type up the document and either print it out to deliver in person or send the document as an attachment via e-mail. Your potential partners will appreciate the clear, easy-to-understand proposition and be excited to discuss it further.

To become a partnership pro, get your Ontario Market Manager Certification! Click here to view the OMMC program.