The state farmers market management certification program looks to infuse markets with more tools for greater success. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News file photo)
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A North Country man has become the first to graduate from a new online Farmers’ Market Managers Professional Certification Course that is available across the state.

Since the state Department of Agriculture and Markets and The Farmers’ Market Federation of New York program started last March, 44 market managers have enrolled in the course and are working their way toward certification.

Reed Proper, the first graduate, will lead the Old Forge Farmers Market this year.

“Our farmers’ markets are not only a wonderful source of fresh produce and local agricultural goods but also education for consumers – a place for them to connect with the farmers who are supplying their food,” State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said in a news release. “By providing this valuable training to market managers, we’re helping to provide the tools they need to successfully operate and grow their markets.”

SUNY Cobleskill State and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County also help operate the program in a state that is now home to about 646 farmers’ markets, up nearly 35 percent from five years ago.

The program is funded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s FreshConnect Program. The curriculum includes 22 training modules on topics that include the of nuts and bolts of managing markets, reaching out to the market community, and building systems. Each module consists of a video-based lesson, additional resources, a homework assignment, and an online quiz. The lessons are hosted on Cornell University’s online learning platform, which allows students to move through the lessons at their own pace, and receive feedback from instructors as they complete each unit.

To learn more and to register, visit nyfarmersmarket.com/fmmpro. For more information, you also may email deggert@nyfarmersmarket.com or lw257@cornell.edu. Cost is $200 for the first registrant for a market or market organization and $100 for the second.

“I liked being able to complete the program at my own pace and at times that was convenient and also not having to leave home,” Proper said. “And at 80 years old, it made me feel young at heart! With the knowledge gained from the farmers market managers certification program, I can create a more efficient market, have a greater nutritional assistance program for the local needy and have a better chance of qualifying for grants.”

 

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