MIFMA Member of the Season, Fall 2013: New Baltimore Farmers Market

An interview with Cindy Paparelli

Above: Sidewalk view of the New Baltimore Farmers Market

You currently are the market manager of the New Baltimore Farmers Market. Tell us about your experience managing the market.

I have been the market manager since its inception in 2008. The planning and idea actually started in 2007 when a group of citizens took it upon themselves to create and administer a community survey to address the needs of our city with regard to community engagement and development. From this survey, one common thread and desire from the citizens was for more community events, one of which was a farmers market.

I became the chairperson of the Farmers Market Committee, and acted as a volunteer to create the market in 2008. It soon became a staple event in the community, growing from one farmer for our first market, to our current situation, now in our 6th year, of 4-6“staple” farmers and many specialty growers and niche producers, cottage bakers and artisans. The market was completely run as a volunteer effort for the first two seasons, and once established and self-sustaining (to a point!); I was contracted as the official Market Manager and paid a monthly stipend for the next 3 years.

This season, we have gone through a transition again as I have taken another full time position, and have stepped back into the role of Market Manager as a volunteer. We have a great board of directors (again, all volunteer), most of whom have been with us since the inception in 2007, and each of them has stepped up to take a more active role as a board member as well as Assistant Market Manager(s) this season as we transition back to a paid Market Manager structure for next year. They have come to realize the time and effort it takes “behind the scenes” to run a successful market, so we will be spending the next several months evaluating our options for our continued growth and development. As most of us involved in farmers markets know, market day activities are only a very small portion of what a Market Manager does, and the skills required are very specialized, so how to fill that role is going to be our focus as a board. And, while we get great support from the City of New Baltimore, we are not a part of, a project of, or an event that is managed or funded by the city (although they did give us a grant to help us hire a Bridge Card Clerk this year!).

I love being involved with the market – it is like a child of mine – I have watched it grow, helped it through some rough patches, and want to always do the very best for the market so it will continue to provide several crucial elements for our community: economic impact (income!) for our farmers and vendors, fresh local options for all members of the community (we accept the Bridge Card and participate in DUFB),a vehicle for bringing shoppers to our downtown area for the benefit of brick and mortar businesses, and at least one day a week, we strive to be that “Third Place” in our citizen’s lives; that place you go to share, talk, listen, volunteer and feel involved.

What is one thing that every MIFMA member should know about the New Baltimore Farmers Market?

We are like “Cheers” – where everybody knows your name. Truly, a place of community gathering. And – I challenge you to find a better view from the market than ours. Our market is “just steps away” from our park with a beach and boat launch!

You are the Chair of the MIFMA Professional Development Committee, what have you learned about Michigan markets in this leadership position?

I have learned so much…the people who are involved in markets and market management are unique but have some common characteristics: intelligent, talented, driven, and passionate. They are often active leaders in their own communities – and are doing so much with so little most of the time. The time and resources to get things done are usually scarce for most of them….they often give more than they have with regard to time ….and always seem to have great new ideas and the passion to keep moving ahead to provide better and more opportunities for farmers, vendors, and the community – despite the ongoing challenges of funding and other needed support.

The New Baltimore Farmers Market is a member of MIFMA. Why do you feel it is important for your market to be involved in MIFMA?

MIFMA allows market managers to tap into that much needed support – with direct access to very specialized trainings, conferences and workshops, assistance and support for grants, and the experiences of other markets with regard to ALL aspects of market management. And while each market is different, at the core, we really all face the same challenges. By becoming a Certified Market Manager, I gave myself the much-needed insights and connections to spur our market’s continued growth and success, and I am sure the more than 80 other Certified Market Managers would say the same.

Above: Apples at the New Baltimore Farmers Market  

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