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Purdue hosts workshops for farmers’ market vendors
By NANCY VORIS
Indiana Correspondent

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Farmers’ markets are sprouting across the country, giving local farmers an outlet to sell everything from salsa and berries to produce and flowers to freezer beef. And they’ve come a long way from farmers selling vegetables out of their truck beds.

“There may still be farmers selling vegetables, but farmers’ markets have expanded to include breads, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations and crafts,” said Jennifer Dennis, assistant professor of horticulture and landscape architecture as well as agricultural economics at Purdue University. “It can be a great social event as well as a great source of fresh produce.”

Indiana has 74 USDA registered farmers’ markets across the state.

Workshops are being held through June to give an overview of marketing ideas, food handling regulations and insurance ideas for vendors, organizers, managers and market masters (whose responsibilities include creating market bylaws and enforcing them, educating vendors of consumers needs, etc.).

“We want farmers’ market vendors and market masters to be on the same page regarding the Indiana State Department of Health guidelines and insurance rules and regulations,” said Dennis, who is coordinating the workshop.

“They struggle with knowing Board of Health regulations,” she said. “Anytime a vendor offers produce that is cut (i.e., for samples), there are a different set of rules that needs to be followed. Those vendors that are selling jams, jellies, breads, etc. need to do so in a certified kitchen.”

Five one-day workshops were scheduled to offer farmers’ market participants a chance to voice their opinions and get ideas for handling certain issues during a roundtable discussion.

Breakout sessions focus on marketing issues like helping market masters reach the public and vendors, and helping market vendors with produce pricing and displays.

Workshops are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Two were held recently in Huntingburg and Batesville with 20 to 30 in attendance at each. Workshops coming up are:

•May 19, Purdue Extension Office of Hamilton County, Noblesville
•June 15, Elkhart County Amish Acres, Nappanee
•June 16, Pinney-Purdue Agricultural Center, Wanatah

Registration is $20, and lunch and snacks are provided.

Deadlines are one week prior to each workshop date.

The workshop registration form can be found on the Department of Ag Economics website at www.agecon.pur due.edu

The workshops are sponsored by the Indiana Cooperative Development Center, Purdue Small Farms Team, New Ventures and the Department of Agricultural Economics.

For additional information about the workshops, contact Jennifer Dennis phone at 765-494-9812 or by e-mail at jhdennis@purdue.edu

This farm news was published in the April 26, 2006 issue of Farm World.

4/26/2006