We believe in the value of markets. But do we have the evidence to prove it? Since 2007, our trans•act research project has studied what works—and what doesn’t work—at markets around the world. trans•act is an international research fellowship funded by the Ford Foundation and housed at marketumbrella.org in New Orleans, LA.
We believe that markets, and farmers markets in particular, benefit vendors, consumers and the entire community. Sellers make a profit. Shoppers eat healthier food. And communities gain trust and cohesion when farmers meet city shoppers and different ages, races and economic classes mingle.
Markets, in other words, create financial capital, human capital and social capital. We call that the “triple bottom line.”
marketumbrella.org, with a grant from the Ford Foundation, developed tools to measure how well markets work. Since 2007, we have observed markets in action and interviewed vendors, shoppers and market neighbors in Seattle, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Biloxi, MS, and Santarém, Brazil.
Each market has its own strengths and weaknesses. We found that some markets, for example, excel at uniting the community or providing economic opportunities for urban and rural poor. Our own Crescent City Farmers Market helps sustain rural farmers but primarily draws city shoppers who have other good options for healthy food.
We publish our preliminary data and notes as Fieldnotes. We share our conclusions through Greenpapers, which present what we learned and suggest how markets can improve and grow.