Farmer Market Managers Highlights (full report is here)

In 2019, Farmers Market Managers operated 8,140 farmers markets.

The largest number of markets operated during June through September. The month of July was the highest month of operation, followed closely by August, with 71.9 percent and 71.8 percent, respectively. Twenty-one percent of the markets operated year round.

At 52.4 percent, Saturday was the most common day of operation.

Fruits and vegetables composed the most common food category sold at 99.6 percent of markets, followed by Condiments and sauce at 94.1 percent.

The percent of markets that had locally grown labeling totaled nearly 84.7 percent. Gluten free and Grass-fed had 46.1 percent and 46.0 percent, respectively.

Of the 4,076 markets that accepted Federal Nutrition Programs, 78.7 percent accepted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Of the 4,352 vendors/producers who accepted Federal Nutrition Programs, 66.7 percent accepted Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), followed closely by Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) at 66.3 percent.

On an average market day, 916 households shopped across markets in the U.S. and spent $14,547 per farmers market.

Farmers Market Managers served as paid employees in 4,321 markets, while in 3,162 they served as volunteers. On average, the paid Farmers Market Mangers earned $18.40 per hour. Managers worked an average of 19.4 hours per week.

There were 31,609 volunteers contributing their time across 5,078 markets.

This article in the Austin Chronicle (March 8, 2019) highlights the latest players in the burgeoning Austin consumer packaged goods (CPG) world. We want the best of these companies to locate in Elgin where we have land, farms and a strong labor force. At the Texas Center for Local Food, we’re raising funds now to build the Elgin Local Food Center to provide jobs and opportunities for our region’s talented food entrepreneurs.

And yea, we want to help them buy from our Texas family farms! So hey you up and coming CPG companies, drop us a line.

We got an email about this tree program and want share it with all of you! Texas A&M has announced its 2020 Fruit Testing Program. Orders are begin taken through May 15, 2019 may order fruit trees to be made available starting January 2020.

Dr. David Byrne, director of the stone fruit breeding program at Texas A&M University is making 27 selections of peaches and nectarines available to growers in Texas for evaluation beginning in 2020.

Who can participate?: Any person interested in peaches and nectarines can participate—those with commercial growers, those with home plantings, and those who have never grown a peach or nectarine before.

A minimum of two trees and a maximum of ten trees of each cultivar can be ordered for testing. The cost per tree is $8.50.

How to participate:

  1. Identify your chill hour zone.
  2. Review variety information.
  3. Complete the TAMU Stonefruit Testing Program order form (PDF) (a minimum of 2 trees and a maximum of 10 trees is required for any variety a grower wishes to obtain). It looks like you have to mail a check and the paper form.
  4.  Get ready to plant in 2020

Contact Dr. David Byrne for questions. Email:

As Walmart works to build its own beef supply chains, Bloomberg reports that Walmart has made deals with Texas’ 44 Farms (of Cameron TX) and Mc6 Cattle Feeders to supply beef to 500 Walmart stores. Interesting that the pic in the article shows apparently happy cattle on lush green grass. We suspect the reality of these cattle’s lives may be quite different. Plus it appears that the cow-calf and operations are in Texas but the feedlot, slaughter and packing may be elsewhere. How much money will stay in Texas from this new deal?

What are the real opportunities and gaps in the grass-fed beef industry in Texas?  This report from New York (2015) may inform our work in Texas.  If you have thoughts, please post comments below so we can all hear you.

We talk about the need for meat processing facilities, but maybe we need to do a more thorough value chain analysis first.  It could be that what ranchers need now is marketing and branding support.  Or it could be that we do, in fact, need additional processing infrastructure.

This 2015 report from Kitchen Table Consultants found that about half of the local processors had excess capacity.  Is that because the processors are bad at what they do or because demand just isn’t strong enough yet?

“During our survey, we asked the farmers “Are you currently able to produce enough to meet the demand for your product?” 9 out of 16 (56%) farmers said no, they could not produce enough product, and that they are selling out. The other seven said that they could use some help with marketing their product.”

This report on farmer/rancher satisfaction with meat processing facilities in Pennsylvania may also be useful since they surveyed actual satisfaction with existing processors. We can’t tell when this was written but it was posted in April, 2018.  For some reason they refer to “cattle” as “cows” and we don’t know why that is.  nonetheless this may provide a model for research we could undertake in Texas.

A great resource for small meat processors is the Niche Meat Processors Network.

And a not so pleasant report on Slaughterhouse Worker Employment.

We had a wonderful and very productive time at the TOFGA conference this year.  Here are links to PDFs of our presentations.

Value-Added Production with Jonathan Hogan of Wicked Good – Here’s the link to Jonathan’s PDF presentation slides about Wicked Good and here’s the link to a PDF of our presentation “Finding your Opportunity.”  For our project “Beyond Fresh,”  funded by Southern SARE and led by NCAT, we will be releasing a guide to help Texas family farmers decide whether processing your crops is a good business decision.  The guide will be published later in 2018.  The workbook will include calculators to guide your financial decisions.  To get an early look at our calculators, please visit our Value-Added Processing section.

Food Hub Feasibility Study – We hosted a lunchtime outreach session to listen to farmers talk about food hubs.  We brainstormed questions, concerns and benefits and enjoyed a lively discussion.  Here’s the agenda as a PDF plus we added a discussion of benefits. We showed just a few slides and here they are as a PDF.  For more info on the project and to complete our farmer survey, please visit the project page. Later in 2018, we’ll share the results of the outreach and brainstorming session.

Food Systems from the Farmer View – Looking at the food supply chain as a value chain, rather than a simple movement of food and money, enables us to think about equity in our food system.  Are all participants in the food system getting value from their participation?

Supply chain from production, through processing, distribution, selling, consuming and dealing with waste. Value chain includes equity and shared social values.

Local Food Value Chain

Are you as a farmer getting the price you require?  Is the mom assured her daughter will be fed healthy, local food at school?  We shared our work as a member of the USDA FoodLINC cohort to develop strong local food value chains in Texas.  Dr. Rebekka Dudensing shared early results of our Local Food Price study that will be released in 2018 and we hope this study will help you begin a conversation about prices where farmers and buyers could meet for specific vegetables grown.  Here are our slides as a PDF.

Where do you find resources to develop your farm business?  Your value-added business?  Ava Cameron presented our new Resource Directory.  If you are a Business member of the Texas Center for Local Food, you’ll be automatically added to the directory.  If you have ideas for businesses we should add, please let us know.  We are developing this directory with NCAT and we want it to be useful for you!  Resource Directory Contact: Ava Cameron


sunset view of Corpus Christi Bay

We were honored to present on the topic of collaboration at the South Texas Producers conference in Corpus Christi. The conference was double the size of last year’s and that’s a testament to the dedication of the farmers, ranchers, view of market showing open air setting with plenty of lightand healthy food activists in South Texas.  Hats off to the folks of GROW Local STX for their hard work creating such a well-organized conference event.

While there, we visited the Corpus Christi Farmers Market in one of the most beautiful market settings we’ve seen.  The market is in the downtown Art Center where the market is scheduled to coincide with gallery openings, art classes, and family activities.  The vibe is easy and smooth and the selection of vegetables, even in winter, was dang good.

And who can argue with that view?  [Thank you to Debbie Noble for these lovely pics!]