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My Research Into Iowa Farmer's Markets

Having been unable to find any information on Iowa's Farmers Markets beyond a simple listing by city, date, etc., I did some data analysis of these Markets myself.

First, using a blank map of Iowa, I created a green circle to represent each of the 174 Farmers Markets in Iowa. That map is attached to this post under the name "Farmers Market Map." These circles do not represent the sizes of the markets (information which I could not find), nor do they point to particular cities--only the counties they are in.

Next, I found the population of each Iowa county (US census estimates for 2003 populations were the best available data). I entered these numbers into a Microsoft Excel file, along with the number of Farmers Markets in each county. I then divided the number of Farmers Markets in each county by the population of that county, and multiplied the result by 100000, to get a number that is easier to work with (for example, 12.623 instead of 0.00012623). This number--in column D in the spreadsheet 'Sheet 1'--represents the number of Farmers Markets in each Iowa county per 100,000 residents of that county. A higher number indicates a greater number of Markets per capita, while a '0' indicates that the county has no Farmers Markets. A graph of this information is available in 'Chart 1' in the same document.

Finally, I separated Iowa into four regions--Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest; the dividing lines are shown in the attached 'Farmers Market Map.' I added up the number of Markets in each of these four regions--these numbers are shown in 'Sheet 2' in 'Iowa Farmers Markets by Region.' A pie chart reflecting the same data is shown in 'Chart 2' in the same document.

Also of interest is some research done at Iowa State University about Farmers Markets. The findings of this study are written up in an article entitled "The Experiences and Views of Iowa Farmers' Market Vendors: Summary of Research Findings," and is located at This report profiles a group of randomly selected vendors from Iowa Farmers Markets, including their views on such topics as "Reasons for selling at farmers' markets," and "Benefits of selling at farmers' markets." The report also includes information about the profiled vendors including ages, income, hours worked, etc.



Nice job! It is interesting to see that most of the farmer's markets are in the northern part (east and west) of the state.

Please snip out the parts of the data that are most relevant to the two cities in our project and do the same analysis on just those 8 counties. That would be the 4 counties surrounding Grinnell and the 4 counties surrounding Fairfield (see earlier "Recent comments" for the list).

Let's see what the two areas have as background context for our project.

Also, please cull the list of all the FMs in Iowa to a subset of only those Farmers Markets in the 8 counties of relevance. Then focus on those 8 counties, look at the data hidden in the list -- and see what you find.

We want to compare the two regions on as many data points relevant to a local food eocnomy as we can find. Census data would likely be your best source but the USDA and the studies you already have accessed here should also be quite useful.