Project aims to help New Mexico farmers’ markets sellers, customers

NMDA looks to recruit farmers’ market fans
to help gather price information

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – Fans of farmers’ markets, local food, and New Mexico agriculture are invited to participate in a project that aims to benefit small local farmers and their customers.

New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) is looking for people across the state who frequent their local farmers’ market.  The agency is asking them to take a few notes about the prices of the fruits and vegetables – as well as eggs and specialty items like honey and mushrooms – for sale there, then share what they learn so that a statewide clearinghouse of price information can be created.  The goal is to help New Mexico growers and customers alike know the price range of produce at local farmers’ markets.

“Some growers shy away from selling their produce at their local farmers’ market because they simply don’t know how to price their items,” New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said.  “And on the customer side, people who think a trip to the farmers’ market is much more expensive than a trip to the grocery store, might be more likely to visit their local market if they could just see how comparable the prices are.”

Witte said the project will also serve customers by letting them know the wide range of produce available at their local farmers’ market.

Farmers’ market managers, vendors, market volunteers, board members, retired vendors, dedicated market “regulars”, and college or high school students are all examples of potential volunteers for the project.  The information they gather will be combined and posted on NMDA’s website as a monthly report.  Vendors’ and volunteers’ names and other identifying information will be kept confidential.

NMDA is working on the pilot project on behalf of USDA, which is also working with a few other state departments of agriculture to gather similar data elsewhere in the country.  In addition to helping both growers and customers know the range of prices at a farmers’ market, USDA’s other goal is to use the information to help create loan programs and crop disaster assistance programs for small growers.

Genevieve Morgan, a former vendor at and manager of the farmers’ market in Silver City, is leading the project for NMDA.  For more details on how the program works – and to sign up as a participant – please contact her at 575-646-1811 or gmorgan@nmda.nmsu.edu.