Crescent City Farmers Market Contributes $8.9 Million to Local Economy
On Saturday, August 1, 2009, at the corner of Magazine and Girod Streets, freshly harvested green beans will change hands for cash, as they have on so many Saturday mornings since the Crescent City Farmers Market opened in 1995. On this particular Saturday, the organizers of the farmers market, marketumbrella.org, will also share news of how green beans impact greenbacks, with the release of their 2009 Economic Impact Study.
According to the study, the Crescent City Farmers Market, operating twice weekly at two different locations, generates a combined economic impact of $8.9 million for its vendors, host neighborhoods, and surrounding region. The study's methodology, called SEED: the Sticky Economy Evaluation Device, was developed by the Market’s sponsoring organization, marketumbrella.org, to capture what Executive Director Richard McCarthy describes as “an often surprising economic impact of the original business incubator, the farmers market.”
The numbers appear to support this claim: The twice-weekly Crescent City Farmers Market attracts 98,600 visits from shoppers each year, which results in gross combined receipts of $3.1 million. Further, approximately 25% of market shoppers spend money at nearby businesses when they visit the neighborhood, resulting in $1.8 million in projected gross receipts at those businesses and an annual contribution of $161,753 to local sales tax revenue.
McCarthy describes how “the very sight of tents and umbrellas gives the impression of an informal and therefore insignificant economic activity, whereas in fact it is highly efficient, enterprising, and democratic.” USDA reports that as of 2008 there are 4,865 farmers markets operating in the USA — a 170% increase in ten years.
In the greater New Orleans region, this growth is evident in nearly every neighborhood. When the Crescent City Farmers Market began operating in 1995, the French Market was the only place where consumers might find an organized roster of local farmers. Now, on a weekly basis, there are at least 12 markets where consumers can shop with regional farmers and fishers. The USDA has designated the first week of August as National Farmers Market Week to celebrate farmers markets as institutions with a triple bottom-line impact– financial, human, and social–on communities.
Working in tandem with the Farmers Market Coalition, marketumbrella.org is developing a trio of tools to measure these impacts for a growing field of markets. Its first tool, SEED, is being developed with support from the F. B. Heron and Ford Foundations. Using the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ RIMS II economic multiplier, marketumbrella.org has worked with renowned pollster Ed Renwick to devise a customer-intercept survey methodology to evaluate consumer behavior at markets. Still in its pilot stage, SEED is a free, online measurement tool that has been used by over 85 markets throughout the USA. In September 2009, marketumbrella.org will release the SEED tool’s new version for all markets to use to measure their economic impact.
Marketumbrella.org is a 501(c)(3) nongovernmental organization based in New Orleans and operating globally to cultivate the field of public markets for public good. With a staff of ten, the organization uses its emblematic Crescent City Farmers Market as a platform for innovation, learning, and sharing with this growing field. The Crescent City Farmers Market is free and open to the public every Tuesday (9 am – 1 pm, 200 Broadway) and Saturday (8 am – 12 noon, 700 Magazine Street).
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