Category Archives: Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s Market – Taking a step back

The team has been experiencing a growing tension over the past few weeks. It took a while to realize this tension might be driven from different interpretations of the word “sustainability”.

We were brought on to help create a sustainable Farmer’s Market. But what that meant to me meant something else to my teammates and the assigned mentor, thus leading to different expectations.

The Website solution we’ve been developing had been largely influenced by the needs of the mentor (vs the needs we’ve identified among ourselves). Today, we were advised to reflect on what matters to us in terms of local food and sustainability.

Hopefully, by the Mid-Semester Review tomorrow, we will have more direction on the work we want to accomplish for the rest of the term.


Farmer’s Market – Project Update / Website dev begins

Hi all! We’ve begun drafting the mock up for our website solution, which aims to address the immediate issue around Farmer’s Market operations. With the website, we hope to achieve these objectives:

  • Increase accessibility, and thus, awareness, to the general public on Farmer’s Market activities
  • Streamline standard processes, such as performer sign-ups and weekly vendor updates

That being said, after meeting with Margiana today and reviewing the ask in more detail, we discovered that there may be a knowledge gap on the team in terms of back-end requirements. We will have to either ramp up on these skills or recruit someone with more experience in this area. Any DPSI-ers interested to help, please reach out!   Simultaneously, we will be contacting the director of Dining Services to get a better understanding of Farmer’s Market operations at a high level to try to influence the longer-term issues. In particular, our team has an interest in increasing revenue opportunities for the vendors and the Market. Website mock-ups (Homepage and Events page): HomepageEntertainment

Sincerely, Cindy, Christian, & Niousha

Farmer’s Market

What we worked on

After conferring at our all-team meeting, we decided it would be a good idea to get some on-the-ground experience with the market, to see for ourselves what areas could be improved upon. We have a lot of ideas about how to expand the reach of the farmer’s market, and more specifically we wanted to hear from vendors themselves how the operations and marketing could be improved.

What went well

We found the market vendors to be friendly, engaged, and happy to speak to us. We spent about an hour going among the different vendors to ask them about their experience at the Harvard market, what areas they would want to see improved, their sales revenue from the market, other markets they visit, and their history here. The responses we received were uniformly positive: the vendors felt that the market met their revenue targets, was managed well, and served the purpose they sought from being there.

What was challenging

Although it was good to see the vendors of the market so satisfied with their experience, our presence in the field didn’t help us to narrow our focus our project for improving the market. If the vendors had had specific concerns or areas they wanted to see changed, we would have had a more targeted direction for our efforts; but the feedback we received did not point out specific issues. The feedback we received at the market made us wonder whether the problem was not one that the market vendors or customers were experiencing, but something going on with operations and administration.

What’s up next

The three of us have an upcoming meeting with Margiana to discuss what we have gathered from attending the market, and our impressions of the vendors. We’d also like to learn more about the behind-the-scenes view of the market’s finances and standard operating procedures from speaking with her, and apply our project proposal.

Farmer’s Market Project Proposal

What we worked on

At our first all-team meeting, we discussed our impressions of the current Harvard Farmer’s Market, keeping our advisor Margiana’s anecdotes in mind, and also brainstormed how we thought the Market could be made even better. We isolated 2 immediate goals, which are to improve the marketing and operations of the Market.

What went well

We each have a different set of skills that blend together effectively, and we are all committed to improving the Farmer’s Market and making Margiana’s job a little easier.

What was challenging

At the same time, we each have different goals about what we hope to achieve from the project. Cindy is interested in training non-profit managers to become more business-focused, and Christian is interested in creating a community between the Market vendors and local participants in the food industry, like restaurants and perhaps HUDS.

In addition, there is no one large problem with the Farmer’s Market for us to tackle. There seem to be small, distinct areas for improvement, but the Market is sustainable and functioning well on the whole. As a result, it is hard to know where to start our project and where to direct it, and this has been why we have seen differing goals among ourselves.

What’s up next

Niousha and Christian are meeting at the Farmer’s Market on Tuesday 9/30 to speak with vendors about their experience with participating in the market, the things they like and don’t like, and how we could add value to their experience. We will also speak with Margiana more in-depth about how the finances of the market are run.

Project Proposal

Our immediate focuses, as stated above, are marketing and operations. Regarding Marketing, we want to improve the Farmer’s Market website and Facebook page to better advertise the variety at the Market and encourage consumers to see the Market as a true alternative to grocery stores. Ideas we have for the website include forms for farmers and guests, farmer biographies, advertisements, and the weekly content currently sent out as newsletters.

We think a well-functioning website is very interrelated to Operations, because having an event-management system and automated emails as available options on the website will make managing the market a lot easier. In addition to facilitating management of the Market, we think Operations could be improved by focusing more on the business of the Market, which means finding ways to increase (and measure?) traffic and make the market profitable.

Finally our last, more long-term goal is to expand the role of the Market and further integrate it into the local community. We hope to potentially increase the variety at the Market and add more prepared food options, so that the Market is truly seen as an alternative to the grocery store and a fun, delicious place to buy lunch on Tuesdays. We would also like to help connect vendors with potential partners in the area and increase the strength of the community amongst the vendors, perhaps through a short weekly meeting during downtime at the Market.


Christian (College ’17), Niousha (Law ’15), and Cindy (Education ’15)

Working Toward a Sustainable Farmer’s Market – 1st Meeting

Last Tuesday, we met with Margiana, Marketing Manager of the Farmer’s Market at Harvard Plaza. We met under the Farmer’s Market tent as activities began to kick off. It was a great opportunity to take in the ambience!

Initial Discussion

Margiana walked us through the entire operation, from micro and macro logistics to financials and promotions. Though the market only runs once a week,  it has great community impact by serving a diverse group of stakeholders. What’s more, our findings could potentially impact surrounding Farmer’s Markets and subsequently, their networks.

Pain Points Identified So Far

From the outset, Margiana has emphasized the need for greater operational efficiency. Her focus is on leveraging technology to streamline activities, but there may be other streams as well as we continue to examine potential bottlenecks.

Another opportunity identified is to educate consumers on vendor history and products. The lack of awareness may be a symptom of a larger issue with vendor integration into the organization – to be determined!

Challenge Ahead

We are meeting among ourselves this week to digest the data and explore existing issues on a deeper level. Our objective is to identify the root causes this organization is facing and approach Margiana with recommendations that are sensitive to resource availability. Once a solution is chosen, we will focus our efforts on executing within the allotted time frame. Wish us luck :).