Commitment and Partnership Shape PCFMA's Future
Last month the PCFMA Board of Directors met for a strategic planning retreat; the first time the majority of the Board gathered in-person since January 2020. Over the two day retreat, the Board members and PCFMA’s staff leaders looked back at how PCFMA has fared since the onset of the pandemic and explored ideas for how PCFMA should grow and change in the coming years.
In some ways, PCFMA is a different organization than it was in 2019. Over the past two years, we have operated fewer farmers’ markets as our markets on Kaiser Permanente and Veteran’s Administration hospital campuses were put on hold, so those partners could focus their resources on pandemic response. More than 40% of PCFMA’s current employees joined the organization after January 2020 and have no experience running a farmers’ market without pandemic restrictions in place. Perhaps most significantly, PCFMA’s programs that support low-income shoppers grew tremendously in response to the increased need in the communities we serve; in 2021 PCFMA directly supported over $1.75 million in purchases by low-income shoppers from PCFMA’s farmers and other vendors.
Despite these changes, PCFMA remains the same in key areas. We continue to operate many farmers’ markets that have been a part of PCFMA for over 30 years. Our Board of Directors continues to consist primarily of farmers who sell in our farmers’ markets and who remain committed to sustaining farmers’ markets as essential outlets for California farmers. And PCFMA remains committed to playing a leadership role in the state’s farmers’ market industry.
During the retreat, we were joined by two persons who operate other Bay Area farmers’ markets. They were gracious to share with the PCFMA Board their vision for our industry. While these other farmers’ markets operate in the same counties as PCFMA, we do not consider them our competitors, but instead, we think of them as our partners. While each of our organizations has a unique focus and approach, what unites us is more significant and more important than what divides us. What was evident during PCFMA’s retreat was that understanding how others approach the important issues facing our industry, helped to bring PCFMA’s priorities into sharper focus.
Too often these days it feels as though our politics, our media, and especially our social media are fixated upon our differences and our divisions while ignoring our common interests and shared destinies. I am incredibly grateful to our partners who so generously gave their time during our retreat, and all those whose willingness to work collaboratively makes all our efforts more successful.