University of California

Farmers' markets offer new business opportunities for farmers


Gail Feenstra
Christopher Lewis

Authors Affiliations

G. Feenstra is Food Systems Analyst UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, UC Davis; C. Lewis is Postgraduate Researcher UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, UC Davis.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 53(6):25-29. DOI:10.3733/ca.v053n06p25. November 1999.

PDF of full article, Cite this article


This survey of farmers' market managers shows that farmers' markets offer growers opportunities to expand their businesses by developing new market venues, including community-supported agriculture, institutional food buyers and government food programs; creating value-added products; and making connections with the agritourism industry. The size and location of host communities contribute different kinds of business expansion opportunities. Markets in rural areas offer some of the strongest community support to vendors and link them with the tourist industry. Small-town markets have added the most new vendors in the last 3 years and almost two-thirds of these markets have space, indicating that there is still room for growth. Markets in metropolitan areas may be harder to get into, but they provide the highest gross sales and show the greatest increase in demand for value-added products over the last 3 years. Managers can help growers capitalize on these opportunities through the rapport and connections they develop with community businesses, associations and institutions.


Burns AF. Farmers' Market Survey Report. USDA Agricultural Marketing Service 1996.

California Department of Food and Agriculture. Farmers' Market Listing. 1999.

Lev L, Stephenson G. Analyzing three farmers' markets in Corvallis and Albany, Oregon. 1998. Oregon State University Extension Service, http://smallfarms.orst.edu/analyzing_three_farmers.htm

Peck K, Voss R, Grieshop J, et al. Popularity has spawned diversity — and rules — at certified farmers' markets. Cal Ag. 1993. 47(2):30-2.

USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Features: 1997 Census of Agriculture and Direct Marketing. Farmer Direct Marketing Newsletter April/May 1999 1999. http://www.ams.usda.gov/directmarketing/news_04_99.htm#seven

Feenstra G, Lewis C. 1999. Farmers' markets offer new business opportunities for farmers. Hilgardia 53(6):25-29. DOI:10.3733/ca.v053n06p25
Webmaster Email: sjosterman@ucanr.edu