Farmers market grants from Compeer Financial total $87K

Compeer Financial’s Fund for Rural America, the Sun Prairie-based farm credit cooperative’s giving program, has awarded Farmers Market Grants, totaling $87,103 for a fifth year, according to a press release Monday.

The grants support 77 farmers market organizations, with funding up to $1,000 for marketing, technology, or educational efforts. Thirty-nine farmer vendors received grants of up to $500. Since the grants debuted in 2019, they have directly impacted 10,173 people and touched the lives of 9 million farmers market visitors.

Marketing is currently the most needed resource for vendors and markets, but farmers markets are also investing in marketing in technology to expand payment options with SNAP benefits through EBT and credit card payments. This year’s markets report that farmer vendors make up 45% of their total vendors. Having a balance of farmers and other vendors helps attract more customers to the market. 2023 farmer grant recipients say that farmers market sales account for more than 50% of their annual sales on average.

The 77 farmers markets in Compeer Financial’s territory receiving grants are comprised of 28 from Illinois, 25 from Minnesota, and 24 from Wisconsin. Among these Wisconsin recipients are the New Glarus Farmers Market, the Paoli Mill Farmer’s Market in Belleville, the Stoughton Community Farmers Market, and the Westside Community Market in Madison.

The grants will be offered again next year. Starting in 2024, market organizations will be eligible for the grant every other year. Farmer vendors who are clients of Compeer will continue to be eligible every year, with priority given to those who have not previously received the grant.