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Creating a Profile of the Grinnell Farmers Market

During the week ahead you are scheduled to come to Fairfield on Saturday the 22nd to visit the Fairfield Farmer's Market with Jim and Timlynn, to do our mid-term assessment of your internship progress, and to plan our activities for the last half of your time with us.

In advance of your visit on Saturday, it's back to the Grinnell Farmer's Market this week.

Based on:

    * The research you have found on farmers markets in Iowa,
    * The kind of data we have asked you to investigate and collect most recently, and
    * Your deepening understanding of the context that needs to be captured/considered in doing a rigorous model of an economic system.

The Iowa Produce Market Potential Calculator - Grinnell and Fairfield


Dig into using the Iowa Produce Market Potential Calculator a bit as it will be an important tool for the modeling project. In particular, check into two particular questions fist and then test the calculator based on what you find out in Question. See below.

From the research comes this caveat: County-level production data for several produce items were missing from the Agricultural Census. Data for these counties were estimated by comparing the undisclosed values for each item with the undisclosed values for each county. For this reason, county-specific production information may not be accurate in some cases and may affect some county-specific estimates of market potential.

Before we begin modeling any thing ....

Before working any further on developing a model of a local food economy, it is clear that we need to know a great deal more about what is being done in Iowa to help develop/drive local support for local food producers.

Farmer's Markets are a pretty obvious example of a local food economy system. Do we have a list yet of how many are in Iowa, where they are located and as much information as we can find about each? If not -- there's a research task that needs some attention.

Farmer's Markets are one thing and we may choose to limit our modeling efforts to only Farmer's Markets this go round. But only understanding the role and importance of Farmer's Markets in the local food economy markets of Iowa is not enough.

Take time to stop and smell the data...

The next step before going too much further would be to do some field work. There is no substitute for direct observation of what you are trying to model.

You should plan to spend a Thursday session at the Grinnell Farmer's Market first, followed by a Saturday morning at the Fairfield market. Ask questions of buyers and sellers, take notes. Keep in mind all that you have been reading and thinking in terms of modeling the market elements. Use the blog space to share how this direct experience shapes your thinking around the system model.

Also before going further on the modeling side of this project, you should do a good bit of on-line research on the local food economy projects here in Iowa. Get a good feel for each project and develop a kind of 'mental model' if you will of how each 'system' is set up.

Other Places - Interesting Local Food Economy models

The non-profit, Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI) has just published their 2006 edition of Taste the Local Difference food guide. The Guide lists 200 small farms from 10 different counties growing produce for their local markets in Northwest Michigan.

The Guide is the pivot of MLUI's deeper effort to help farms and a wide range of local buyers find each other and make more local sales happen. MLUI produces the Guide and the marketing campaign that accompanies it. It also conducts market research and makes connections with food distributors and buyers.

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