Iowa Farmers Market Manager Toolkit

Iowa Farmers Market Manager Handbook

The Iowa Farmers Market Manager Handbook brings together ideas, inspiration, and insight from farmers markets across Iowa. It is the culmination of research, hands-on experience, and interviews with market managers, vendors, and professionals.

There are a variety of market manager manuals and handbooks published at a state and local level across the nation. They are valuable resources no matter what state a manager resides in. With the ease of online searching, these manuals can benefit managers at all skill levels. For this Iowa handbook, the project team combined broad best practices with ideas and encouragement from real Iowa farmers market managers. This place-based approach offers potential market managers and existing market managers in Iowa an opportunity to connect with colleagues from similarly sized towns, provide their boards or committees with justification and inspiration, and fuel grant applications and private sponsorships.

This handbook is meant to complement the existing booklet published by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and resources provided by the Iowa Farmers Market Association.

The handbook is a component of the Iowa Farmers Market Manager Toolkit.

To download the complete handbook or individual chapters, click on the images or text links below.

Farmers Market Manager Handbook

Iowa Farmers Market Manager Handbook

Complete Handbook (hi-res)

Complete Handbook (low-res)*

*The low-res version is a significantly smaller
file and will take less time to download. 

Chapter 1

What is a Farmers Market?

History of Farmers Markets, Early Farmers Markets in Iowa, Farmers Markets in Iowa Today

Chapter 2

What Does it Mean to be a
Farmers Market Manager?

Market Manager Role, Building Community, Tips for a New Manager of a New Market, Tips for a New Manager of an Old Market, What Your Vendors Wish You Knew

Chapter 3

First Things First: Planning
Your Farmers Market

Market Hours, Fees and Fines, Vendor Recruitment, Business Structure, Market Layout, Record Keeping, Reports, Communication, Setting Rules, Financial Planning and Budgets, Weather and Emergencies

Chapter 4

Preparing for the Market Season

Liability Insurance, Communicating and Enforcing Rules, Conflict Resolution, Food Nutrition Programs (WIC, Senior FMNP, SNAP, Double Up Food Bucks), Customer Service, Special Event Planning

Chapter 5

Improving and Measuring
Market Performance

Fundraising and Sponsorships, Branding, Marketing and Social Media, Collecting Data, Measuring Performance, Attendance Counts, Conducting Surveys

Additional Handbook Content:

Northeast Iowa RC&D Logo
Iowa Valley RC&D Logo

Special thanks to all those that provided input into the development of the this toolkit and all the work you do for Farmers Markets in Iowa.

USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grants (Award No. #16-FMPP-IA-0027) supported this work. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this Toolkit is for educational purposes to assist farmers market management in improving their market operations. This material is not intended, and should not be used, as a substitute or replacement for individual legal, financial, or actuarial advice. Each market organization should consult a relevant professional advisor when making business decisions as appropriate.