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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Massachusetts Farmers' Markets: Contributions to Farmer Sales and Food Access
by Obadia, Jennifer, Ph.D., Tufts University, Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, 2011, 207; 3481135
Abstract (Summary)

Farmers' markets are valued by many small farmers as a sales outlet. They are valued by food systems advocates as a way to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income communities. Despite these benefits, farmers' markets face a variety of challenges. This dissertation investigated the characteristics associated with sales volume at Massachusetts farmers' markets. It also explored the degree to which low-income individuals use farmers' markets and the contributions that federal nutrition assistance programs can make to market sales. These issues were addressed in a series of three articles.

The first article explored the characteristics of farmers' markets that influence vendor sales. Interviews revealed that Massachusetts farmers needed an average of $250 in net sales per day for a market to be profitable. However, only 59% of farmers' markets that operated in 2009 met this criterion; thereby, providing sufficient sales volume to 57% of vendors. The characteristics most strongly associated with vendor sales were market manager experience, manager's age, and the volume of customers.

The second article evaluated a pilot program in which Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) participants were allowed to use cash value vouchers (CVV) to purchase fruits and vegetables at six farmers' markets in Massachusetts. The evaluation explored whether the ability to use CVV at pilot farmers' markets would increase the number of WIC participants who shopped at those markets compared with other farmers' markets. It also investigated whether the ability to use CVV at pilot markets increased the number of individuals who shopped at them in 2010 compared with 2009. The evaluation found no difference in the use of CVV at farmers' markets between pilot and comparison groups. Surprisingly, this was because nearly half of WIC market shoppers from comparison sites reported use of their CVV at farmers' markets. Study findings may be representative of a larger-than-expected demand for use of CVV at farmers' markets.

The third article is a case study of Boston markets conducted during the summer of 2010. It explored the use of markets by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) clients at Boston markets. The research revealed that Boston farmers' markets captured 0.10% of local SNAP dollars—ten times the national SNAP farmers' market redemption level. Combined, SNAP dollars and the local SNAP incentive program, contributed an average of $556 in vendors sales per market.

The research conducted for this dissertation adds to the evolving literature on farmers' markets in the United States. It aids in furthering the understanding of characteristics that increase farmer sales and contribute to market stability. Additionally, it has provided insight into the use of farmers' markets by individuals who participate in federal nutrition assistance programs. This is important for understanding the contribution that farmers' markets can make in improving fruit and vegetable consumption for low-income individuals.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Goldberg, Jeanne
Commitee: Griffin, Timothy, Maxwell, Daniel
School: Tufts University, Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Department: Agriculture, Food and Environment
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-B 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Marketing, Food Science, Nutrition
Keywords: Farmer income, Farmers market, Food access, Snap
Publication Number: 3481135
ISBN: 978-1-124-98491-9
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