i-Three Issue Corps – Paletas & productos frescos: crowd-sourcing data to better understand Latino farmers’ market audiences

Photograph of a vendor and a customer at the Boise Farmers' MarketMy eXtension i-Three Corps project is focused on increasing the diversity of customers and vendors at Idaho Farmer’s Markets, particularly those in the greater Boise, Idaho metropolitan area, known as the Treasure Valley. Our Latino population in this region varies from 7% to 74%, depending on county or city. However, our markets don’t reflect this changing demographic.

One of the first steps is to better understand the situation and shed light on the conditions that may be contributing to this lack of participation.

Thanks to my very well connected colleague at University of Idaho Extension, Liliana Vega, I had the opportunity to conduct a focus group with over 60 individuals on Mother’s Day at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Boise. St. Mary’s conducts church services in Spanish and draws it’s congregation from at least 4 surrounding counties. While the youth are engaged in their confirmation classes, the adults gather for socialization, outreach, and occasionally guest speakers. Liliana helped me translate my materials and present. And even though we were talking about fresh fruits and vegetables, we brought cookies which were well received.

The meeting was comprised of three parts. First, I presented a little bit about who I was, why I was there, and what I was interested in learning from the audience. Second, we used a Turning Point presentation to engage audiences and allow them to share anonymously about their experiences, preferences and interest in Farmers’ Markets.

Here is a quick narrated video showing the questions we asked and explaining the thought process:

We will be tabulating the results and I’ll share them in a later post!

Lastly, we formed small groups and evaluated six examples of Spanish language Farmers’ Market posters from around the country.

Six Farmers' Market Posters from around the country, in Spanish





We asked the groups to tell us which poster:

  • was most visually appealing
  • had the most appealing messaging
  • was easiest to understand
  • was the top favorite

Interestingly, the poster from the Dudley Square Farmers’ Market in Roxbury, MA was the unanimous favorite in the first three categories. Out of all of the posters, this one filled the page with bolder fonts and colors and did not have too much or too little information. It had a single photo and had no sentences, instead using bullets and short, to the point information.

Our next steps are to use this information to continue our assessment and to begin creating our own Idaho outreach and education materials. I am very excited to share that I have a University of Idaho undergraduate intern for the summer who is fluent in Spanish, grew up here, and is very active in Latino leadership organizations on campus. I am so lucky to have found her. She has already begun to work on using our preliminary data to create and translate materials for use at the Boise Farmers’ Mobile Market beginning next week. The mobile market is an important partner in this work. Learn more about it here: http://theboisefarmersmarket.com/programs/mobile-market/ .

My next blog post is scheduled for July, and by then I hope to share results of the survey and report on our activities. Stay tuned!