Kent Farmers’ Market Association was formed in 2007 following a study commissioned by Produced in Kent and carried out by the Kent Business School. This established the considerable value that Farmers' Markets had on the local economy (nearly £3m per year) but highlighted that growth was faltering because:-
- almost all the markets in Kent were run by volunteers;
- the sector was highly fragmented,
- many markets, especially small rural ones, lacked resources to improve, including promoting their markets and the concept of Farmers' Markets, to shoppers.
This stimulated an initiative from market managers themselves to exploit more cooperative ways of working. The Association is England’s largest regional grouping of farmers’ markets, representing all the farmers’ markets in the County, which operate nearly 1000 markets a year. It undertakes a range of activities, including:
- helping market managers and stallholders to improve standards through guidance and training, e.g. focusing on effective marketing and investments through consumer research;
- promoting best practice within and outside the area;
- informing all of changes in regulations;
- making best use of managers’ time and money through exchanging ideas,
- encouraging collaboration in marketing and purchasing,
- helping stallholders find additional outlets from their products and so to grow their businesses,
- advising new markets on establishing strong foundations,
- stimulating understanding of the benefits of local food; where to find it and how to make the best of it, and so drive up footfall and spend per shopper,
- raising the profile of farmers’ markets in the eyes of the media, local authorities and other potential partners.We believe passionately that Farmers' Markets provide shoppers with higher quality, more nutritious, easily traceable, fresher local food and drink. In addition, they give Kent's farmers and small food enterprises the opportunity to sell direct to the public and so get a fair price for their products, and offer the chance for communities to get together, and often to replace a closed village shop.
The Association also helps to promote young food and farming entrepreneurs. To this end, we have helped to set up the Kent Young Food and Farming Entrepreneur of the Year Award in memory of master baker and supporter of farmers’ markets, Mick Rusbridge.