FMNS Membership

Dear FMNS,

I have really enjoyed reading your newsletter this year and am impressed by all of the activities that FMNS is undertaking. I’m hoping to persuade our farmers’ market to join in 2012, but we’re just breaking even at the moment and I need to be able to convince the market that membership makes financial sense.

Thanks!

Frugal in the Valley

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Dear Frugal in the Valley,

Thanks for your kind words and your interest in joining FMNS!

We recognize that different markets have different financial situations so we have a sliding scale for membership of FMNS. Memberships for the smallest markets (with up to ten vendors) who are only open during the summer months start at $250.

We also recognize that we have to offer financial value to our members so our goal is to offer access to tools and resources that markets could not afford to access alone. Once a market is member, all of the following costs – and much more – are covered through membership of FMNS:

  • Listing in the Doers and Dreamers Guide; value $4,550
  • 60 hours of annual professional development and networking for Market Managers, Coordinators and organizers; value $2000 per participant.
  • 40 hours of customized Business Training for vendors at farmers’ markets; value $2000 per participant
  • Consistent promotion of your market by FMNS; value $2000 per market/year
  • Competitive insurance rates for markets and vendors thanks to our customized program with The Cooperators Insurance Company.

We are always listening to you because we want to be sure the services we offer match that challenges that you share with us.

Of course, there are things that it is hard to attach an financial value to. The kinds of things that the Mastercard ads would call priceless. The most important of these is community. FMNS is a Cooperative so all of our members cooperate to ensure that everyone benefits from working together. Money in the bank is nice, but the the support, advice, shoulders to cry on and community to celebrate with that comes with being part of a cooperative is indeed priceless.

So how does ‘community’ translate into cold hard cash?

  • Saved dollars from not repeating the mistakes of others.
  • Money generated through learning from the successes of others
  • Partnerships, which can both save and generate money for markets
  • Raised community profiles (meaning needing to spend less time and money on advertising)
  • Improved access to resources and connections to help you get things done!

At the ACORN conference last month, I encouraged farmers to look at some of the examples of businesses that have succeeded both in the Maritimes and elsewhere and see what we can learn from them. I also encouraged farmers to replicate their successes, which is the same approach we take with our member farmers’ markets.

To better share the wisdom that we already have among our own community, we are currently working on some best practices case studies of farmers’ markets who have managed to do things so well that we want everyone to be able to learn from them. These case studies, which include Wolfville, Yarmouth and Truro, will be rolled out over the winter months.

The power of the network that we have created amongst ourselves should never be underestimated because, as we all know, we get by with a little help with our friends.