BOTTINEAU "Farmers markets are a draw for people around the area," said Stacy Baldus, administrative assistant for the North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association and the Dakota College at Bottineau Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture.
Baldus said a survey was conducted at farmers markets across the state in July and August that will help the center and growers plan for the future. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture will release the information in a public report and each individual farmers market that is a member of the association will receive a report about their particular market.
Baldus said customers at farmers markets were asked four questions. They were asked how much money they planned to spend at the market that day, how often they come to the farmers market, whether they had come downtown specifically to go to the farmers market, and how they thought the farmers market could be improved. They visited farmers markets in Minot as well as elsewhere in the state.
Baldus said the average customer planned to spend between $5 and $15 at the market, about 60 percent of the respondents came at least weekly to the farmers market and 10 percent were visiting for the first time. There was a high degree of satisfaction reported with the farmers market, but people who thought it could be improved asked for a greater variety of vegetables and thought there should be more vendors.
Baldus said there are about 50 markets across the state and 36 are members of the association. She noticed a variety of offerings at the different markets they traveled to. Several markets have organic vegetables for sale; a farmers market in Grand Forks has crafts as well as the typical vegetables; some markets in northwest North Dakota had eggs or bread for sale and some markets had fresh flowers as well as vegetables. All had the typical vegetables. Baldus said she thinks there's room for growth in many of the markets. There are more vendors now than there were the last time they did a survey, she said.
The survey of customers will help farmers markets to develop even further, she said.