Census of Michigan Farmers Markets

The first Census of Michigan Farmers Markets was conducted by the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) in the spring of 2021. All farmers markets in Michigan can benefit from the information we learned from this survey, because it helped us better understand how markets in Michigan operate, needs that affect markets, and how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted markets.

Introducing the results of the first Michigan Farmers Market Census

The first Census of Michigan Farmers Markets was conducted by the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) in the spring of 2021. The Census asked questions about both the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

The goals of the Census were to:

  • Understand how Michigan markets operate and serve their communities 
  • Identify market needs for managers, vendors, and shoppers
  • Guide MIFMA’s programmatic and advocacy efforts to best support the future of Michigan farmers markets 
  • Understand how COVID-19 impacted market operations

The results of the census are detailed in nine individual briefs, each with a specific area of focus.


Start here! This introduction brief contains important context about the census and the landscape of Michigan farmers markets.

Food Assistance and Payment Processing

Michigan farmers markets are important places for food assistance programs, as over two-thirds accept one or more programs. This brief also covers the role market managers play in operating food assistance programs at their markets, creative ways to expand food access, and other forms of payment processing at the farmers market.


Michigan markets are committed to data collection and evaluation and how doing so can positively impact how markets function and plan for the future. This brief illustrates the methods, processes, and context for how Michigan markets collect and use their data.

Market Manager Compensation

There is a wide variance in Michigan farmers market manager employment situations, including compensation, benefits, and their roles and responsibilities. This brief also details the various paths to market management, turnover rates, and the importance of stable market management.

Market Operations

Each Michigan farmers market is as unique as the community it operates in, and trends in market operations also vary widely. This brief covers market decision making, staff and volunteers, and operating budgets.

Vendors and Products

The Census asked market managers how many vendors were on their seasonal rosters; that is, the total number who showed up at least once during the market season. This brief also contains information about geographies represented, product eligibility, vendor recruitment, and food safety.

Locations and Infrastructure

Because many farmers markets are temporary and pop-up in nature, it’s important to consider the property ownership, relationships, and regulations that allow these events to happen. This brief details the when, where, and how of Michigan farmers market locations and infrastructure.

COVID Impacts

COVID-19 changed most aspects of daily life in Michigan, including operations for markets managers, vendors, volunteers, and shoppers. This brief details the impacts of the pandemic on market size, product offerings, and other factors.

Cottage Food

The Cottage Food brief contains census results regarding the widespread presence of cottage food at Michigan markets, what products they offer, and how markets act as business incubators to these vendors.


The Michigan Farmers Market Census was made possible by the collaboration and support of many Michigan local food champions. In particular, MIFMA would like to thank the following individuals:

  • Amanda Edmonds (A M Edmonds) for creating the census survey and guiding our census Advisory Committee
  • Lindsay Way (Way Consulting) and Amanda Edmonds for collaborating on data analysis and reporting
  • Kari Paine (The Paine Group) for designing the briefs


We would also like to thank these groups for their support of the census:

  • Our Census Advisory Committee for providing their expertise, advice, and support to the project
  • The farmers market managers and support staff who responded to the survey and provided us with their information

About the Census

The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) conducted a census of Michigan farmers markets to document how changes as a result of COVID-19 have impacted Michigan farmers markets. By collecting and studying the impacts on the 2019 and 2020 farmers market seasons, MIFMA had a clearer picture of the changes and could plan for anticipated needs for technical assistance, advocacy, and funding. 

Who could take the survey? This survey asked about many operational aspects of farmers markets in Michigan communities.  The person taking the survey was someone who has knowledge of and access to information about all aspects of their market; usually this person was the Market Manage or another staff member from the market’s Operating Organization. Only one survey per market was accepted. 

When was the survey available? The survey was open from February 15 to March 31, 2021.

How were markets compensated for taking the survey? By completing the 2021 Michigan Farmers Market Census, markets contributed to new statewide data that helps us understand the state of the farmers market sector in Michigan. Each market that completed the survey was eligible to receive a $50 stipend and a discount for registration to the 2021 Michigan Farmers Market Conference.

Will there be another census in the future? Yes! We are planning to conduct another census of Michigan markets in 2025. If your market is interested in participating, make sure your listing in the Find a Farmers Market Feature is up to date so we can contact you with more information as it becomes available.