Online Course Will Help Grow and Promote New York’s Farmers’ Markets
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and The Farmers’ Market Federation of NY, in partnership with SUNY Cobleskill and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, today announced the first ever Farmers’ Market Managers Professional Certification Course: FMM PRO to grow and professionalize New York’s increasing number of farmers’ markets. The program, funded by Governor Cuomo’s FreshConnect Program, creates New York State’s first market manager certification designation, which is recognized through the SUNY system. FMM PRO is a part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to open new markets and increase opportunities for New York State agriculture producers.
Farmers Market Federation of NY Director Diane Eggert said, “We’ve always recognized that farmers’ market managers are dedicated and hard-working. The launch of the FMM Pro: Professional Certification program is the realization of years’ worth of hard work to get farmers’ market managers recognition and to provide them with the opportunity to enhance their skills and build the state’s farmers’ markets to fully serve their communities of farmers and consumers. We appreciate the support and hard work from our partners: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, SUNY Cobleskill and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “We’re excited about this new certification course that will allow market managers across the state to get valuable information necessary to build on their current experience and bring their market to the next level. New Yorkers are increasingly looking to buy foods that were grown fresh and local, and we’re proud to support this first-of-its-kind opportunity that will ensure the viability and quality of markets for years to come.”
A growing demand from consumers for fresh, healthy local foods has brought an increase in the number of farmers’ markets across the state. New York State is now home to 646 farmers’ markets, up nearly 35 percent from just five years ago.
The FMM PRO program provides an online curriculum to ensure the quality and performance of farmers’ markets across the state. The 22 unique training modules will help market managers better organize, administer and promote their markets.
Linda Serdy, SUNY Cobleskill Program Coordinator, said,“At SUNY Cobleskill, we value the importance of having strong educational partnerships and together we developed and executed a curriculum that enhances the skills of New York State farmers’ market managers. This certificate will improve the connection of the farmer to the local market and consumer.”
SUNY Cobleskill Associate Professor, Agricultural Business Management Jason R. Evans, Ph.D. said, “SUNY Cobleskill is so pleased to be working with the Farmers’ Market Federation of NY to offer this incredibly valuable program to the farmers’ market and local food communities. It is important that leaders in these organizations be well positioned to respond to consumer and producer needs and this training will facilitate that.”
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County Agricultural Economic Development Specialist Laura Biasillo said, “Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County has a long history in supporting a system of community-based farmers’ markets for farmers’ market managers and their farmers. FMM Pro: Professional Certification program will help continue this mission through providing an adult-learning centered opportunity for the traditional volunteer manager to access timely information from experts in the field to build community around their markets, better understand the diverse audiences that visit farmers markets, and build value around their markets for all stakeholders. We are grateful for the diverse set of partnerships this project has fostered in SUNY Cobleskill, the Farmers’ Market Federation of NY and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.”
The FMM PRO course curriculum includes all aspects of maintaining and growing a successful farmers’ market and is broken down into three modules:
Nuts and Bolts of Managing Markets
Reaching Out to the Market Community
Building Market Systems
Program participants who complete the full curriculum will receive a certificate and earn the title of Certified Market Manager. As a FMM PRO Certified Market Manager, graduates of the program will:
Be fully knowledgeable in today’s best practices for managing farmers’ markets
Learn tactics to expand and optimize their farmers’ market
Be equipped to build successful relationships with farmers and shoppers
Be able to use their certification to leverage funding and support for their market
The cost of the SUNY Farmers’ Market Managers Professional Certification is $200 for 12 months of access to the online curriculum. Discounts are available for multiple registrations for market organizations. Participants will need to complete all 22 sessions within this time frame, including a quiz and homework assignment from each section in order to receive certification. In addition, they will need to earn two continuing education credits bi-annually by attending special sessions at the Federation’s annual Farmers’ Market Managers Conference and/or specified manager training webinars in order to maintain their certification. The program is also available to out-of-state participants.
Registration for the course is ongoing, enabling participants to register and complete the full curriculum at their convenience. To register, a participant will need to complete an online application and submit payment online. Once your payment is received, participants will be emailed a code to access the online course. To register for FMM Pro: Farmers’ Market Managers Certification Program, go to: http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/fmmpro.
The FMM Pro certification course delivers on the Governor’s promise made at his Farm to Table Upstate Downstate Agriculture Summit to increase New Yorkers’ access to healthy, locally-grown foods and expand Upstate farmers’ reach to new consumers. The State Department of Agriculture and Markets has made great progress in connecting the state’s farm and food businesses to the Downstate markets, in particular, through expanded outreach by the Department’s Brooklyn office, which provides a point of contact for the industry to provide technical assistance to food processors, producers, restaurants, wholesalers, retailers and not-for-profits. In addition, the Department hosted three Taste NY Culinary tours in 2015 that in total introduced nearly 100 chefs and restaurant owners from across the state, mainly from New York City, to some of New York State’s best agricultural food and beverage producers.