FMC’s Current Directive on Evaluation
An introduction from FMC Senior Advisor Darlene Wolnik on Metrics role to support network evaluation projects.
For the past 45 + years, the market field has operated as highly efficient but extremely low-capacity individual operations in thousands of communities. In light of that, any changes in job duties or systems relies on the careful development and refinement, and should only be undertaken when there is a critical mass ready to use those tools and functionality.
Therefore, the development of Farmers Market Metrics (Metrics) has been closely tied to the development of a culture of data collection and use of data for markets. At FMC, we have watched this culture grow by leaps and bounds, and see our role in this process as providing necessary and appropriate resources for markets engaged in evaluation.
Metrics was and is designed for a market organization to be able to collect and report data to their community in one system. In addition, it allows network leaders to lead an adoption of data collection among a set of markets through building a shared data collection system, and through sharing aggregated data to the larger community and among policymakers.
Adding the very necessary network level is where one set of complications comes in because this means that data must act a certain way across markets, which means it has to be collected and entered the exact same way. Yet at the same time, we also have to respect the clear current directive from almost all markets that certain data, such as vendor data, cannot be shared without explicit permission.
Metrics is, at its heart a reporting tool, rather than an analytical tool for research needs, although research partnerships are also atop of FMC’s not-so-secret agenda for the use of Metrics data and we are willing to broker those relationships as needed. Still, we have to be patient in terms of where markets are right now and operate for that rather than for what we expect to be true in the next few years. As we begin to test network-level projects that are more directed to sharing data with researchers, those needs will be prioritized based on what number and type of markets request it.
Please continue to ask questions and direct ideas to the Metrics team to help us build this tool and to expand the entire suite of resources that FMC offers to market organizations.