Session Descriptions – 2020 Maine Farmers’ Market Convention

The 2020 convention covers a breadth of topics of interest to farmers’ market members in Maine. Your market will make the most of the professional development opportunities on offer by bringing 3 or more members per market. This way, you’ll have the opportunity to cover more of the sessions, share your knowledge, and hold each other accountable in bringing back positive change and action to your market.

Tickets can be purchased in packages of 4 (the most affordable option!) through the Convention registration page – click here.

Conflict Recognition and Strategies

In this 50-minute session, we’ll present some information about conflict: why it happens, how it relates to personal needs, and why so many people avoid it. Conflict represents an “incompatibility” of ideas, or needs, or strategies. We’ll discuss the types of conflicts that can be inherent in groups, and strategies for self and group management. Participants will be encouraged to develop skills and have opportunities to practice addressing potential or current conflicts. These are helpful skills if you are in the middle of a conflict, are a witness to a conflict, or have a sense of something brewing. The presenters will also share resources for help in mediating a conflict if that is a desired strategy. 


Karen Groat, Director, Family and Community Mediation

Leslie Forstadt, Human Development Specialist, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Farmers Market Metrics – Data collection tools for markets of all sizes 

The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) worked with market and research partners to develop a complete evaluation & data communication system for farmers markets, known as Farmers Market Metrics (FMMetrics). FMMetrics is driven by the need for efficient farmers market management tools, that can also serve to streamline grant reporting. The scalable and customizable system is intended to maximize the utility of, and build upon data already collected by market management, while facilitating the communication of market impacts to customers, vendors, funders and other stakeholders. Join Dar Wolnik of the FMC to learn more about this tool and how it could work for your market. 


Darlene Wolnik, Farmers Market Coalition

Food Safety Best Practices & Hemp/CBD Overview

Ronda Stone from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (Quality Assurance and Regulations) will talk about ways to keep Maine’s Farmers’ Markets strong by focusing on consumer confidence. Consumers want to be sure that foods purchased from the markets are safe and presented honestly. Market food safety practices, licensing, food sovereignty and FSMA will be the key topics of discussion. Ronda will also discuss regulations around the sale of hemp and CBD products at farmers’ markets. 


Ronda Stone, Consumer Protection Inspector, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

Gleaning Initiatives at Farmers’ Market 

A grassroots movement of volunteers, service agencies and farmers have mobilized in the fight against food insecurity in Maine through gleaning. In this session, learn from some of the key organizers in Maine on how your market can participate in gleaning efforts to help address hunger in your community. 


Kelly Davis, Merrymeeting Gleaners & Maine Gleaning Network 

Kate Garland, UMaine Cooperative Extension 

Tom Roberts, Snakeroot Farm & Unity, Pittsfield, Waterville, Orono Farmers’ Markets

Keeping the Peace at Market – Deescalation strategies for challenging customers/people.

People experiencing mental illness. Disgruntled customers. Potential thieves. How do we handle stressful, and potentially threatening situations at market? If we want our markets to be open and welcoming to all, then vendors must know how to manage people of all types. This session will focus on de-escalation strategies, anti-bias training, and best practices to manage stressful situations involving people at market. Jonathan Alexis, Training Coordinator for Security at MaineGeneral, will share strategies and tactics used at the hospital. Bring your questions and the scenarios you’ve experienced for this engaging training session. 


Jonathan Alexis, MaineGeneral Hospital

Keynote – Risk Management for Farmers Market Leaders

Vendor Records, Legacy Binders, Historical Documents, Business Records, Safety Checklists, and Incident Reports are all examples of documents that markets should maintain, according to the Farmers Market Legal Toolkit. This presentation will walk market leaders through the Toolkit and lead discussions on the legal issues around governance, SNAP, and general risk issues of markets.  Please come prepared to share your own systems and ongoing challenges. 

Presented by Darlene Wolnik, Farmers Market Coalition

Low-income Food Access Models for Any Market

Farmers are very interested in the business of feeding people. Yet, not every person has equitable access to farmers’ market foods. This session will feature 3 different models for welcoming people with low-incomes to your market. You’ll find that there are creative options out there for markets of all sizes. 


Amy Sinclair, Yarmouth Farmers’ Market

Dan Sortwell, Bath Farmers’ Market

Emily Buswell, Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets

Maine Harvest Bucks 101 – Overview and Strategies for Markets

Maine Harvest Bucks is a nutrition incentives program that provides bonus matching dollars to purchase fruits and vegetables for shoppers who buy food with SNAP/EBT (food stamps). This session provides an overview of how to implement Maine Harvest Bucks at a farmers’ market. MFFM will provide examples of how markets across the state are operating the program to attract new customers, increase their sales, and help feed people experiencing food insecurity in Maine.  


Jimmy DeBiasi, Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets

Marketing Strategies – Attract new shoppers and keep them coming back! 

Beyond the press releases, social media pages, e-newsletter and the like, what else can be done to attract new shoppers? This session brings some fresh ideas into the mix from different parts of Maine. Three different strategies will be covered: 1) Learn how Bangor-area farmers’ markets partnered with a major employer to attract new shoppers, 2) how the Kennebunk FM used market funds to hire a market manager to boost the market’s presence and increase promotion to tourists, and 3) how with some simple advanced planning, your market can be hosting themed weeks that bring in new energy and create opportunities for cross-promotion with community partners. 


Steven Price – Kennebunk Farmers’ Market

Art Kelly – Kelly Orchards, Kennebunk Farmers’ Market

Arielle Bywater – Pica Design LLC 

Jimmy DeBiasi – Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets

Partnerships for success

Behind every farmers’ market is a community partnership – whether it’s  for volunteers, financial sponsorship, access to property, fiscal sponsorship, entertainment or promotions. Partnerships, with your local town office, hospital, community nonprofit or school, can leverage a lot of good for your market and the surrounding community. This session will showcase some successful institutional partnerships from a few markets in Maine. See how markets and local partners work together to further each others’ mission and support thriving farmers’ markets. Staff from MaineGeneral will also give advice on best practices for approaching institutional partners.   


Clayton Carter, Failbetter Farm, Orono & Bangor Farmers’ Markets

Shelley Goraj, MaineGeneral 

Deena Parks, Chops Ahoy Farm, Presque Isle Farmers’ Market, 

Point of Sale (POS) Options and Opportunities in the Digital Age

You can download a smartphone app and start processing credit card transactions on your “phone” in under 20 minutes. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in the value of these programs for capturing valuable sales and customer data for your farm enterprise. In this session, we’ll hear from a few farmers on how they use their POS apps to conduct transactions, track sales, engage their customers, and plan for growth. Cybersecurity concerns and risk management best practices will be shared.  


Abby Sadauckas, Apple Creek Farm

Kelby Young, Olde Haven Farm

Brittany Hopkins, Wise Acres Farm

Greg Warren, Warren Associates & Insurance Solutions

John Heller, American National Insurance

Working together as a cooperative team

By working together, we can lighten the load, share decision making, increase our sales and have fun!  Through this interactive workshop, you can work with your market team or individually to look at ways that you can develop effective cooperative structures that are participatory and efficient.  We will look at ways you can cooperate within your market and cooperate together with markets in your area or county. You will walk away with a plan that you can bring back to your market to increase cooperation and clarity around your organizational structure.

Hosted by Jonah Fertig-Burd, Cooperative Development Institute