Careers, Farmers' Market Manager
This week’s theme: Careers, Farmers' Market Manager
In this week of Food Careers we are taking a look at the farmers’ market manager! The activity going along with this week’s food career is Farmers’ Market BINGO, a fun and interactive game to take to your local farmers’ market.
Let’s explore what it looks like to be a farmers’ market manager!
We sit down with both Sam Hanson of the Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar and Andrea Kestner of the Bel Air Farmers’ Market to ask a few questions.
First up, Sam!
Sam Hanson is a 34 year old Maryland-born manager of the Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar. He is a ten year resident of Baltimore living in the Charles Village neighborhood with an affinity for the intersection of nature and technology.
Sam has also volunteered with our Days of Taste program!
1) What does a typical day for a farmers’ market manager look like?
Well, it starts out in the morning when I wake up. Early. Like 4 something in the morning. Then I pack my big backpack with my trusty clipboard and bike downtown under the Jones Falls Expressway by Saratoga street. There are usually a few early-bird farmers already setting up for the day’s market. I say a few hellos and then start to close off the streets we have a permit to use for the market. The rest of set-up involves moving tables and tents, and greeting vendors and market staff as they arrive. Once the market begins at 7:00 am I’ll either be staffing our welcome tent, or floating around the market engaging with vendors and customers. I receive a lot of feedback, opinions and concerns throughout the course of the market so it’s helpful to keep notes. Near the end of the market I usually do a little shopping to get my groceries for the week. When the market closes for the day at noon, I’ll work with gleaners, who pick up unsold produce to distribute to folks who need it, and take down everything we set up in the morning. I’ll then ride my bike home with a much heavier backpack.
2) Were you always interested in farmers’ markets? How’d you get started managing that Baltimore Farmers’ Market?
My interest in farmers’ markets came out of cooking in a restaurant here in Baltimore. The restaurant unfortunately no longer exists but the appreciation for local food it instilled in me remains. When the opportunity arose to work assisting with the market, I jumped. That was 5 years ago and since then I’ve really come to appreciate the farmers’ market community and look forward to the market every weekend.
3) What’s the yummiest and/or coolest thing you’ve ever seen a farmer or vendor bring to the market?
Some of the fresh baked pastries are really hard not to claim as the yummiest, but I’d have to say the fried mushrooms with feta cheese can’t be beat. I also love it when farms bring something they grew that I have never seen before.
4) Do you have a favorite part of the market? Or a favorite time of the year that the market happens?
Opening day for the market in Spring has got to be my favorite time. Everyone is just so happy to be back after a long winter, including me. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all.
5) What’s the hardest part of managing the market for you?
I still struggle with trying to make everyone happy. I know it’s not realistic and so I’m really just stressing myself out because of it. There are a lot of different people who have a stake in the market: vendors, customers and partners. They all have different opinions on what would make the market best. My job is to hear all these opinions and make the best decisions for the market as a whole.
6) Outside of running the market, what are some of your hobbies in Baltimore?
I really enjoy the nature Baltimore City has to offer. I gamify nature with hobbies such as fishing and foraging, where I challenge myself to find cool stuff in the rivers and in the woods.
7) Do you see your hobbies overlapping with the market?
No, I’ve found it best to keep my job and my hobbies separate.
8) Do you have any hopes or dreams for the future of the Baltimore farmers’ market?
I would love to have the market be a more accurate reflection of the City, and include more Baltimore based vendors in all of our vending categories.
9) Do you have a favorite item(s) that you like to get at the market?
- I like to get big sacks of pastries that I can eat for the rest of the day.
- I like to get at least one coffee drink.
- I like to get fresh mushrooms and ramps.
- I like to get duck eggs.
If you want to learn more about Sam Hanson, here are a few things he’s been up to:
- A few minutes with Sam Hanson
- Sam is a part of LEAD, a program developing leadership to serve agriculture.
- The Baltimore Farmers’ Market and Bazaar is a part of BOPA, the Baltimore Office of Promotion of the Arts
Next up, Andrea!
Andrea is a lifelong Harford County resident. She’s happily married with three children, ages range youngest 15 and oldest 23. She is working full time currently as well as managing the Bel Air Farmers’ Market part-time. She’s worked with her sister, who is a Harford County farmer, for 25 years at her farm stand and several farmers’ markets. She’s proudly managed the Bel Air FM for 11 years.
1) What does a typical day for a farmers market manager look like?
2)What’s the yummiest and/or coolest thing you’ve ever seen a farmer or vendor bring to the market?
Paw Paws (a small deciduous fruit native to the eastern United States that some people describe as a mix between a mango and a banana)
3) Outside of running the market, what are some of your hobbies in Baltimore?
I like to cook and bake. Gardening is also one of my favorite past times. And reading, getting lost in a story.
4) Do you see your hobbies overlapping with the market?
Gardening most definitely. Using my knowledge learned over the years to also help others.
5) Do you have any hopes or dreams for the future of the Bel Air Farmers Market?
Find unique producers to grow our market. We strive hard to keep a balance of farmers’ and value added vendors.
Also, here’s a video about safety and what you can expect at a farmers market during the coronavirus pandemic:
Activity: Farmers' Market Bingo
Just like any game of bingo, the rules are simple. Color in or put an X through the boxes as you complete them, walking through the farmers' market. When you have five boxes in a straight line going up and down, left and right, or diagonally across the board, you've got Bingo!
But don't stop there, keep playing and see if you can cross out all the boxes for an extra adventure!
Take a look at the Bingo board before heading to the market and don't be afraid to look up examples, like "vegetables that grow underneath the ground." That way you have an idea of what to look for!
Print your own Farmers’ Market Bingo here.
Connect with Us
If you complete the Farmers’ Market BINGO please share with us the most interesting thing you saw! Send us a picture of the final product on Facebook (@TasteWiseKids) or Instagram (@tastewise_kids)! You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If Grocery Stores Could Talk: All About the History of United States Farmers’ Markets
- Farmers’ markets are curated spaces for farmers and local vendors to sell goods such as fruits and vegetables, baked goods, meat and other locally sourced products
- US farmers’ markets date back to the early 1600’s
- There are numerous studies on Farmers’ markets and their grave impact on poverty stricken regions with lack of access to fresh produce and healthy food options.
- Today there are over 8,000 farmers’ markets across the US and have
To locate the local farmers’ markets in your area check out https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets