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Farmers markets vary significantly in their operating procedures and characteristics. For example, some are loosely organized with no written guidelines and no designated person in charge, while others have written bylaws along with a board of directors and a paid market manager. Some farmers markets are held in parking lots with goods sold directly from vehicles, while others are held in permanent structures. The differences are numerous.

It may be helpful to learn about and understand some of the differences and similarities in operating procedures and characteristics of Tennessee farmers markets. This information may be useful for those who are forming or improving farmers markets to see how others are doing things. It may also be helpful to educators and public agencies in determining the resources needed by farmers markets in the state.

During the summer of 2006, the Center for Profitable Agriculture conducted inquiries with 55 Tennessee farmers markets (Table 1). Extension agents were first asked via e-mail whether or not there was a farmers market in their county. Agents indicating there was a farmers market(s) were then called to determine the best contact person for the market.

Market contacts then were telephoned to discuss operating procedures and characteristics. It should be noted that these contacts were diverse in their occupations and roles with the markets. The contacts included Extension agents and other staff, Chamber of Commerce representatives, USDA employees, downtown organization employees, farmers market managers and others. The contacts also varied in the amount of detail known about the market, especially when discussing characteristics of the market, such as the number of vendors or customers. Much of the information they provided were “educated estimates.” Therefore, while the information learned through conversations with market contacts and summarized below may be interesting and helpful in several ways, the data and information presented should not be considered scientific results.

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07-0241 PB1771-1.1 M-6/07 R12-4010-026-008-07

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