By Karen Butterfield
Missourian Staff Writer
The Missouri Farmers Market Association Conference was a success, according to Amanda Griesheimer, Washington Area Chamber of Commerce marketing director.
The conference drew more than 90 farmers market representatives from the state to Washington Jan. 24-25.
Participants were able to network with market managers, market supporters and other market vendors during the event, which was hosted by the Washington Farmers’ Market and the Chamber.
“Everyone had great things to say about Washington and the conference itself,” Griesheimer said. “We were rally happy with it.”
The preconference kicked off Friday, with a Good Agricultural Practices and food safety training session, conducted by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
The group also toured the Todd Geisert farm and took a walking tour of Downtown Washington, including a visit to the Photojournalism Hall of Fame.
A dance was held at Jesuit Hall Friday evening.
Saturday featured speakers on marketing and management with many different topics relevant to the markets.
Judy Huntley, a Washington Farmers’ Market vendor, was a moderator during one of the group discussions.
“I thought (the conference) was absolutely wonderful,” said Huntley, adding that it helped her gain a broader perspective of how markets manage and help their vendors.
Huntley complimented the speakers and said she enjoyed learning how to keep her space fresh. She said she has a lot of good ideas to bring back to the market steering committee on how to make the Washington Farmers’ Market even better.
Another attendee, Sandi Hillermann McDonald, said the farmers’ market at her business, Hillermann Nursery & Florist, is still in its infancy, but she found many topics helpful.
“I found that much of it is applicable to my every day work life,” said McDonald, adding that she enjoyed the presenters.
“It was all about making relationships with your clientele, getting to know your customers, using Facebook and being social,” she said.
Merchandising also was a topic Hillermann found helpful.
Griesheimer thanked sponsors and those who donated items, including Pepsi Cola Bottling Company, Gray Eagle, Bank of Washington, American Family, Bank of Franklin County, Miller’s Grill and Mid-American Coaches.
She also thanked local wineries that are Chamber members for offering sampling during the kickoff event Friday.