Please join and help us grow the farmers market community! As a part of our membership drive, we’ve been spotlighting the good work of markets in Illinois. Next up? Land Connection’s Champaign Farmers Market.

Meet Market Manager, Sarah Simeziane, of The Land Connection’s Champaign Farmers Market and learn how they have been able to grow their weekday market, established in 2015, to expand markets for farmers and increase to fresh locally produced food for Champaign area residents.

Q & A with Sarah

What do you like about being a part of Illinois Farmers Market Association?

“Most importantly, the biggest benefit has been getting to plug into this network of market managers. It’s a unique job and can be very challenging at times. Having different people to connect with that can relate has been very helpful. This has enabled us to commiserate with other market managers about the challenges that come up at the market, which helps my sanity, but more importantly, helps us to come up with solutions to problems.”

Tell us a success story from your market:

“One of our biggest successes last season was attracting new customers through a SNAP incentive program matching the amount of money received for fresh produce for LINK users who redeemed their SNAP benefits. Our market is relatively new and the first year we had $3,000 from sponsorship funds to provide a double match for SNAP benefits, yet we only went through about one third of the funding we had available in the first year.

The second year we received a grant and were able to grow the program. We were trying to think of a way to get more customers out to the market toward the end of the season and decided to try a triple matching program (customers redeem $20 in SNAP benefits and receive up to $40 matching benefits). The response was great! One quarter of new customers for the season came for the first time in month of October and several of those new customers ended up becoming repeat customers.

In order to continue the promotion in our third year (last season) we decided to implement the Triple LINK incentive once per month throughout the season and the program kept growing. By the end of the season we more than doubled the total of number of customers, tripled new customers and tripled the number of repeat customers. We ended up giving out almost $10,000 in incentive funds last year.

The program had benefits across the board – the SNAP programs increased sales, increased community support in form of sponsorships and vendors say the reason they come to our market is because they like supporting the SNAP program.

More about Sarah: In 2012 Sarah became the assistant director of the Urbana Market and joined the Land Connection to launch the Champaign Farmers Market in April 2015. She completed her market manager certification in 2016 through Illinois Farmers Market Association’s partnership with the Michigan Farmers Market Association. Sarah is presenting at the 2018 ILFMA conference and has been a presenter at previous ILFMA conferences, workshops and SNAP webinars.

Join ILFMA now and receive a discount on the 2018 ILFMA Conference; Sowing New Horizons, Envisioning the Possibilities.