Unlocking the Potential of Charlotte’s Farmers’ Markets
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Charlotte Regional Market
7 November 2017

Karen Karp & Partners (KK&P) was recently retained by the City of Charlotte, North Carolina to provide consulting services regarding improvements to the regional food system, specifically addressing the city’s farmers’ markets. The mission of the study is to develop recommendations for a market system that supports farmers, entrepreneurship, and food access while building community and place throughout the region.

Matthews Community Farmers' Market
Matthews Community Farmers’ Market
“The City is excited to work with the KK&P team, whose collaborative work will leave our community with a stronger understanding of how we can improve our connection to food and to each other. Their national perspective will give us the options we need to develop a path forward.” – Tom Warshauer, Assistant Director, Community Engagement for the City of Charlotte

The City of Charlotte sees an opportunity for a more effective and impactful system that could better meet current and future demand for locally produced food. Initial research done by the city suggested various limitations and constraints in the system, but farmers, market managers, buyers, and consumers all understood the potential impact of connecting local consumers to more local foods.

Charlotte Regional Farmers' Market
Charlotte Regional Farmers’ Market

To that end, KK&P is looking at a number of key impact areas, including regional farming, wholesale aggregation and distribution, entrepreneurship, placemaking, and food access. Understanding how these elements work in tandem, and how farmers’ markets can serve a central role in that equation, will be instrumental in driving and expanding the growth of the region’s food economy.

KK&P has assembled a team, including Market Ventures, Suede Onion, FARMS, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council, that brings deep national experience and expertise in regional food systems and markets, local knowledge, skill with analyzing and presenting data, and a creative, responsive approach to community engagement and information gathering to this work. The full team recently completed its first visit to the region, with three days of intensive research and stakeholder engagement in mid-October. KK&P is excited to collaborate with our team members, the city, and its stakeholders on this important and defining project for the region’s food and farm economy.

Ben Kerrick of KK&P and Ted Spitzer of Market Ventures speak interviewing local vendors
Ben Kerrick of KK&P and Ted Spitzer of Market Ventures speak with Daniel Price of Freedom Farm, a vendor at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market
According to Ben Kerrick, “It’s been terrific getting to know Charlotte’s community of food system stakeholders. There is a lot of really great work already happening, and we’re looking forward to a collaborative process that identifies ways to maximize the impact of the city’s farmers’ markets.”