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Consumer demand for local produce at extended season farmers' markets: guiding farmer marketing strategies

  • David S. Conner (a1), Adam D. Montri (a1), Dru N. Montri (a1) and Michael W. Hamm (a1)

Locally grown food is gaining popularity and increasing its prevalence holds potential for broad social, economic and environmental benefits. Season extension technologies such as hoop houses offer a solution to limited growing seasons, a major constraint in many areas, enhancing efforts to supply locally grown food. This paper discusses research conducted at three Michigan farmers' markets, locations where Michigan farmers utilizing hoop houses currently sell their produce. The research measures consumers' willingness to buy local produce at extended season markets using a set of four complementary methods: dot poster surveys, written surveys, focus groups and experimental auctions. Building upon prior research on attributes that create value for local foods (spatial proximity, food quality and relationships between farmers and consumers), our results inform farmers' choice of marketing mix. We find consumers willing to pay a premium for large quantities of locally grown produce, with many placing highest value on products grown in Michigan. We conclude that extended season farmers' markets supplied by hoop house grown produce create an opportunity for farm viability and further development of the market for locally grown food.

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Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • ISSN: 1742-1705
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