Membership: costs, conditions and new applicants

[Section 3 of the Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia Cooperative Policy Document. This document can be viewed in full here.]

3. Membership, costs, conditions of membership in FMNS and new applicants

The goal of this membership policy is a define the basic conditions of membership in FMNS, provide a clear process for new member applications and sustainable organizational growth as well as FMNS expectations of members that is consistent with the Cooperative’s overall values and objectives.

3.1: “Expectations” means that while a member market may not yet meet these minimum standards, they are actively moving towards them as a condition of continued membership in the cooperative. FMNS will directly support this development among our member Farmers’ Markets by providing the information, tools and training that Farmers’ Markets need in order to fulfill the basic conditions of membership and succeed. FMNS will review progress annually. If a new member Farmers’ Market does not reach the minimum standards within two years of approval their membership will be reviewed by the board of directors. If a current member fails to maintain the basic conditions of membership their membership status will be reviewed by the board of directors. Expulsion of any member requires a vote by the current membership.

3.2: The basic conditions for membership in FMNS are that the applicant Farmers’ Market:

  • Is organized as an association, cooperative, or by some other form of incorporation, with bylaws appropriate for their community.
  • Requires the direct participation of a principal, owner, partner, family member or employee of the enterprise, with direct knowledge of the source, production or manufacture of the products for sale at the market, in attendance on market day.
  • Has established standards, systems and controls for the participation of vendors, product representation and mix, fees, business hours, relationships with sponsors and all aspects of a retail business.
  • Requires vendors to provide clear information about the origin of any and all products they sell, delivered by the person representing the products. (FMNS’s Product Information Best Practices Sheet is available for guidance).
  • Offers both local agricultural production and a diversity of local products and businesses (artisan, value-added, prepared foods, etc.) as a core of its operation.
  • Encourages a cooperative / competitive business model among producers (“co-opetition”). That is, allows more than one producer of a given product to participate in the market.
  • Allows equal participation of agricultural producers, secondary producers, artisans and artists.
  • Provides FMNS with the following, annually:
    1. completed application form (February)
    2. new members: a copy of the member’s incorporation and by-laws, included with application form
    3. current members: any updates/changes to member’s incorporation and by-laws should included with application form
    4. when applicable, completed FMNS survey/s.

3.3: New member applications:

  • FMNS will accept applications or expressions of interest in joining FMNS at any time throughout the year.
  • Over the winter, the FMNS board will consider all applications and expressions of interest, and respond to all interested parties. Reviewed applicants will be presented to the membership for final approval at the annual general meeting.
  • All applications will include:
    1. completed application form
    2. a copy of applicant’s incorporation and by-laws (if incorporated)
    3. if applicable, FMNS survey (sent at time of application)
  • It is recommended that applications for membership be made as early in the year of application as possible, and that representatives from the applicant market attend regular FMNS meetings, access and contribute to the information available through our communication system, and generally take advantage of our programming, prior to a decision being made on their application.
  • The Executive Director and/or Board Director will visit the applicant Farmers’ Market as part of the review process.

3.4: Cost of Membership:

  • Purchase of member share (one time), $100, repayable on written withdrawal from the cooperative (FMNS).
  • Membership fee amount calculated at $1.90 per seller per market week the market operates (refer to Fee Schedule), payable annually to the cooperative.

3.5: Expectations of Member Markets:

Each member market will appoint a voting representative from their organization to participate in FMNS membership meetings, most notably the Annual General Meeting (spring). The member market and its representative are expected to:

  • To be aware of the cooperative program, and how their market and their producers can benefit from it.
  • To actively participate in regular and special FMNS membership meetings with the objective of achieving agreement with other owner members around the issue under discussion.
  • To convey their market’s interests to the cooperative, and to represent those interests in discussion.
  • To ensure, in cooperation with other members and FMNS employees, that an effective communicative relationship between the member board and the board of FMNS is maintained at all times.
  • To help ensure communication of the FMNS program to their market’s producers and community.
  • To act as an active liaison between the member’s development program, and the FMNS development program.
  • To ensure there is a reliable point of communication between the FMNS coordinator and the member’s manager, board and producers: a person who will receive and appropriately distribute FMNS requests for comment, and ensure reply to messages requesting a reply or a reply to all, and who will request any assistance required from FMNS in order to achieve reliable communication.
  • To ensure reporting requirements are met (producer listings, contribution reports, funding program reports).
  • Collectively, the owner-members of the cooperative (are required to) agree on the current priority objectives for the operation of the cooperative, and on a strategy to achieve those objectives, in which their respective roles and responsibilities are accepted.