Virginia Market Manager Certification Course

By Meredith Ledlie Johnson, Coordinator, Food Access and Availability Initiative, Family Nutrition Program (EFNEP and SNAP-Ed), Virginia Cooperative Extension

Overview of Program

An exciting pilot farmers market manager certification program was developed in response to market managers’ stated need for continuing education. The goal of the certification program was to professionalize the role of market manager, and lessen turnover in this position.

The certification program was developed through a collaborative partnership between Virginia Farmers Market Association and Virginia Cooperative Extension, with sponsorship by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Program Schedule and Assignments

Topics were determined based on a survey of needs by current market managers and identifying relevant topics from similar programs offered by New York and Michigan farmers market associations.

The following topics/modules were included in the certification program.

  1. Role of a Market Manager
  2. Market Operations: accounting, SNAP, sales and expenses
  3. Market Rules, Polices and Governance
  4. Special Events: Planning and Marketing
  5. Market Data and Reporting
  6. Building Community and Partnership around Your Market
  7. Food Safety at the Market
  8. Conflict Management

A total of 15 market managers and one market vendor operating a farm market signed up for the course. The participants were from around the state including the Southwest, Tidewater, Capital Area, Shenandoah, and Blue Ridge regions. Participants also had a variety of experience, based on survey responses before the certification program began.

Participant Characteristics

Question Response (n=15)
How long have you been a market manager? 1st season

8 (53.3%)

2 seasons

2 (13.3%)

3+ seasons

5 (33.3%)

What type of market(s) do you run? Municipal

4 (26.7%)


7 (46.7%)


2 (13.3%)


2 (13.3%)


Participant Feedback on the Pilot Course –

  • “This was a great program. I learned so much about all aspects of market management, and also learned from everyone’s experience.”
  • “From the sessions I participated in there is no doubt this course is a plus for current and future market managers, and not just for markets but other business ventures as well.”
  • “This series of classes most certainly not only gave me insight to what I didn’t know I didn’t know but filled my toolbox with a huge amount of resources – practical, professional and personal.”

Next Steps

Plans for the next round of testing for the course are being discussed now. One major change will be to offer it in the winter to avoid market season. Visit for future updates.