Fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, baked goods, and handmade crafts: America’s farmers markets are certainly all of these things. But they’re also much more than meets the eye. Farmers markets nourish our communities by creating jobs, connecting producers directly with consumers, and cultivating strong local, regional, and national food systems. According to the most recent National Farmers Market Managers survey, there are more than 8,000 farmers markets across the U.S. — and their impact can’t be overstated. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that farmers markets contribute $9 billion to the U.S. economy each year.
While farmers markets provide invaluable services to their communities, they, like any other business, require the proper nurturing to grow. That is where the SBA can lend a hand. National Farmers Market Week is August 7-13. This year, the SBA is observing the occasion by highlighting a variety of resources and tools that can help aspiring farmers market owners plant the seed for their business dreams. And if you’re already a budding small business owner, the SBA will make sure you have the support you need to grow and thrive.
SBA Resource Partners
The SBA’s resource partners are a great resource for discussing logistics, marketing, and any other plans for scaling up.
- Community Navigators: The Community Navigator Pilot Program helps strengthen outreach to underserved businesses by partnering with organizations with deep roots in their communities. Fifty-one centralized "hub" organizations support 450 local and trusted "spoke" organizations, connecting small businesses with programs and services.
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs): Access to capital, business planning, financial management, marketing assistance — SBDCs do it all. From coast to coast, entrepreneurs can find training and counseling at over 900 hundred SBDCs across the U.S.
- SCORE: It is never a bad idea to connect with someone who has been there before. SCORE business mentors offer no-cost assistance with planning, launching, managing, and growing your small business.
- Women’s Business Centers (WBC): WBCs work to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs by helping them launch new businesses and compete in the marketplace.
- Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC): VBOCs serve as one-stop shops for the veteran and military community members whose next mission is entrepreneurship. Access business training, workshops, resource referrals, and more through 22 VBOC locations.
It is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to use their local farm stand as their first entry into the marketplace. Financing solutions from the SBA can help you get your foot in the door. SBA’s largest financing program, the 7(a) Loan Program, is a great option for businesses that meet eligibility requirements but do not qualify for conventional financing. 7(a) loans help small business owners buy real estate, equipment, and inventory, as well as acquire working capital and refinance business debt.
Microloans make it easier for eligible businesses to access funds for everything from supplies and equipment to furniture and fixtures. Microlenders can be a valuable resource for free business counseling, too.
Success at the farmers market can often develop into something bigger, and those looking to get to the next level can find the push they need from the SBA. The SBA’s international trade programs equip small business owners with the tools and know-how they need to sell their goods and services abroad. For businesses that have been operating for at least a year, the Export Working Capital program increases your chances of getting approved for export financing programs. By providing long-term financing to businesses that are expanding into export sales, the International Trade loan program helps you compete globally.
Interested in starting your own farmers market? Visit the USDA National Farmers Market Directory to learn about requirements such as permits and vendor fees. The SBA is a proud supporter of America’s farmers markets, and we look forward to helping them make their farm-to-table dreams a reality this National Farmers Market Week and beyond.