Washington State Farmers Market Management Toolkit

Chapter 1


This Toolkit draws its inspiration from many sources. Experienced market managers have asked for more sophisticated information to help them navigate their next season. We know managers welcome opportunities to cut time spent on the learning curve and sorting through Google search results. Additionally, even the excellent existing resources from other regions begged to be adapted to Washington State’s unique farmers market history and geography. And, with the increased visibility of farmers markets, today’s policy and regulatory issues demand more of our collective attention. Moreover, we all benefit by learning about the practical ideas, best practices and excellent work being done at farmers markets around the state.


The “Washington State Farmers Market Management Toolkit” was made possible through a partnership between the Washington State Farmers Market Association and WSU Small Farms Program.

We would also like to acknowledge Marcy Ostrom, WSU Small Farms Program leader, and Cindy Armstrong for all of their institutional, strategic, and administrative support. Gerald Steffen, Creative Manager at CAHNRS/Washington State University Extension, designed the Toolkit cover.

We are also grateful for critical contributions from Patrice Barrentine, Suzanne Briggs, Jennifer Brown, Claudia Cole, Zack Cook, David Dickinson, José L. García-Pabón, Stephen Garrett, Claire Lane, Rita Ordóñez, Marcy Ostrom, Clare Paris, Linda Stone, and Joel Wachs.

This Toolkit is dedicated to Washington State’s indefatigable farmers market staff, boards, volunteers, sponsors, and farmers who are working hard to support family farms, provide nutritious food to families, and make our communities brighter.

Funding for this publication is based on work supported by a USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service Farmers Market Promotion Program grant, Award #12-25-G-1205, and USDA, Agricultural Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant, Award #2009-55618-05172. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Help Us Make These Resources Better

We know there will always be room for improvement in the Toolkit. That’s why we designed each section to be a living document, which can be used independently of other sections. Our goal is to continually refine each chapter based on the insights, information and experiences of Washington State farmers market organizers. Please email suggested edits, corrections, new resources and other constructive feedback to us at office@wafarmersmarkets.com.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this Toolkit is for educational purposes to assist farmers market management in improving their market operations. This material is not intended, and should not be used, as a substitute or replacement for individual legal, financial, or actuarial advice. Each market organization should consult a relevant professional advisor when making business decisions as appropriate.