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The Future of Farmers Markets

Over the past year Andre Nogueira (PhD Candidate from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design) and Liz Lyon (Plant Chicago Market Manager) have been working on a project to help better define how farmers markets in Chicago can better serve their constituents. Andre’s blog introduces the problem like this:

As public spaces that collectively attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year in Chicago, farmers’ markets hold immense potential to demonstrate, promote, and engage businesses and residents with circular economy practices. However, markets face many barriers including lack of adequate funding, staffing, information, energy and waste diversion infrastructure, and collaboration, all of which make it difficult to understand and implement circular economy practices at a citywide level. Little research exists on the history and current state of farmers’ markets in Chicago, let alone on their challenges or successes related to waste diversion, sustainable packaging, and energy use.

Key findings from this research gives fellow market managers a list of goals that will help them improve the impact of their markets:

The research and results from the workshop directed researchers to four actionable properties that are required from market managers to advance local circular economies. They are here presented as opportunity areas for intervention and impact. They are not meant to be exhaustive, rather an indication of what’s possible with collaboration across stakeholders and organizations.

Education: Market managers should provide proper infrastructure to disseminate the knowledge.

Collaboration: Market managers should organize and intentionally support one another.

Facilitation: Market managers should structure goal-oriented interactions to sustain engagements.

Coordination: Market managers should ensure collaborations lead to actions.

You can read Andre’s full writeup of this research on his own blog, as well as download the complete report here.


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