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Creating Community and Visibility at Your Local Farmers Market: An Interview with Liz Hoover

Maggie McCutcheon, Agromovil grants and communications intern, is a veteran of farmers markets. Growing up in Southeastern Ohio and as a veteran of 4H and Future Farmers of America, she knows the small farming ecosystem literally from farm to fork. She recently had the opportunity to spend time with her local farmers’ market community this summer and spoke with Liz Hoover, a farmer who has been selling her produce for over 15 years at the Granville Farmers’ Market in Ohio.

On Reaching Target Customers: Over the past 15 years, Liz described just how difficult it has been to communicate consistently with her customers. “Currently, we use Facebook and the sign at the end of our road as our method of interaction,” said Liz. “The local Chamber of Commerce manages advertisements for the market as a whole, but individual farmers must advertise their business and reputation on their own. It’s an imperfect system, to be sure.”

The Impact of COVID: Communicating with buyers has only become more challenging since COVID-19 shut-downs began earlier this year. Liz’s family, along with many other small farmers, are now selling remotely from home or utilizing curbside pickups. But Liz talked about how COVID-19 has slashed customer turnout and has affected how farmers operate their stands. “It’s become much harder to talk to people with face masks on, and new protocols for touching the products change the way our customers shop.”

Creating More Visibility: Maggie asked what would help small farmers, especially during such an unprecedented time, and Liz answered quickly: “Increasing our visibility and having the flexibility to work at our own pace are the two things I want most… that would be awesome!” Liz said she knows a couple vendors who have tried to use technology in the past to improve their business, but in the end the tech just didn’t fit their needs. “Most of the products we bring to market are picked on that day for quality and freshness, so we need an app that will ensure our buyers can see the products we have quickly, when they are fresh,” Liz said.

Agromovil and the Farmers Market: Maggie and Liz then discussed Agromovil -- how the platform enables small farmers to easily post goods for sale and match with customers like hers who want the freshest food possible, and how Liz could see more customers and do more business through the platform. “The truth,” said Liz, “is that not everyone will even know where to go on Facebook to find us. And Facebook, with all its ads and other distractions isn’t ideal to help me make a sale.”

The Future of Farmers Markets should be App-enabled: Farmers’ markets are really crucial to farmers and to communities across rural and urban America. “Farmers’ markets have become known as the place to be on a Saturday morning,” said Liz. “Everyone sees the market as a social event. I think with a simple app like Agromovil we could make it more profitable -- and safer -- and help bring more people to the market even in these strange times. And if I can connect with my customers before they arrive through the app, when they do show up in the market, even with a mask on, we have a chat and I can make sure they get what they need.”

If you’re working with a farmers’ market and would like to learn more about Agromovil can help you, please reach out to learn about how Agromovil can empower your community.

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