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Farmers Market Relationship-Reliant for Returners and Revenue

Sep 29, 2015 10:22AM ● Published by Rhett Wilkinson

Theron Jensen (far right) with his daughter and granddaughter at South Jordan Towne Center Farmers Market. The function depends on relationships in multiple ways. Photo courtesy Susan Furner

By Rhett Wilkinson

Driven by relationships, South Jordan Towne Center Farmers Market receives a high number of return attendees and its vendors benefit greatly.

A market facilitator and city staff member each told the South Valley Journal about relationships of the seven-year-old function that involve different parties but both involve the farmers.

Susan Furner is the Utah Farm Bureau director of member services who makes local markets happen. She said that one of the most “powerful things” about the South Jordan market is the returning attendees who then gain further trust, even a “friendship” with the vendors. That includes the customers’ confidence in “where the food comes from,” Furner said. As many as 70 percent of the attendees year-to-year are returnees, Furner said.

Don Tingey is the City of South Jordan strategic services director who plays a role in the South Jordan market. He said that the city “lets the Farm Bureau just deal with all of the farmers” because of the two parties’ relationship. Furner said that one farmer, Tyson Roberts, makes 75 percent of his profits through the markets.

The market runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through October at 1600 West Towne Center Drive in South Jordan.

The empanadas from year one were able to be a favorite only after stakeholders got convinced. Businesses at Town Center were “skeptical” about the function taking place there. And the Farm Bureau was initially hesitant to open a market in South Jordan because it didn’t know how well it would do, Tingey said.

“You hope that if you build it, they will come,” he said.

But attendees have increased year-by-year, with the most significant jump from the first year to the second. The city conducted much publicity, including radio advertisements, in the first year, Tingey said. He appreciates the sustainable growth and economic development that the market provides.

“In a lot of communities, you can visit with neighbors,” he said.

Surveys conducted by the city show that the event in town that residents are most familiar with is the market.

“It’s nice to know that people know the farmer’s market,” Tingey added.

The market has been found each year at “South Jordan’s main street” by the town center, he said.

Furner, a Montana native, grew up in agriculture. She loves the Farm Bureau’s tradition of “grassroots” development of markets. Her profession was different in the past – she taught high school in Murray for six years. But today, she enjoys the challenge to “build rural Utah,” including advocacy to the state legislature. There is a farm bureau in most counties of every state outside of the national bureau, she said.

Furner appreciates the efforts of Candy Ponzurick in developing activities unique to South Jordan’s market, including chalk art and a quilt show. Ponzurick also takes care of permit work. The bureau sends permits to potential vendors in April, Furner said.

“The whole purpose is to develop policy that influences agriculture and keeps up with safe and affordable food,” she said. “We all like to eat.”

Food+Dining, Business, Local Life

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