The Women of the California Farmers Market Association

By Cheryl Sternman Rule | October 13, 2016
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In 1994, Gail and Doug Hayden opened two farmers markets as part of the brand new California Farmers Market Association (CFMA). Today, the CFMA works with 280 farmers and 100 food purveyors at 15 certified markets in the region. 

There are other local farmers market associations, but the CFMA has a particularly strong reputation for outreach and branding. Director of Marketing Moti Phillips, 27, explains: “It’s my job to help farmers market themselves. I can’t grow fields and fields of corn, but I can tell farmers how to design a banner. I can help them create recipes, write press releases, get media attention and use social platforms. We’ve just held a four-part workshop about how to use Constant Contact so the farmers can send out emails to their customers.”

So it’s one thing for farmers like Ivorrie Lo or Araceli Trejo to have a spot for their stalls, and it’s another for them to get dedicated marketing support. After all, farmers have enough to worry about without screaming for attention.

For her part, Gail Hayden, 61, holds a deep well of institutional knowledge. Whether talking about standard fruit sizes, parsing industry regulations, or conducting demand analyses, Hayden’s 37 years working with farmers markets (which includes eight years with the Department of Agriculture) make her exceptionally well-versed in California’s farmers market particulars.

Though Hayden’s not going anywhere, she’s already thinking of the next generation. Fortunately, the CFMA has a young, vibrant team, many of them women. In addition to daughter Kayla and marketing director Phillips, staffers include Patty Apple (a former vendor) and office administrator Jessica Wyatt, among others. 

“I had no idea when I got involved in this in 1979 that it would be this long-lasting,” Hayden says of her enduring career. “I’m passing the torch to the millennials here. They really get it.”

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Cheryl Sternman Rule is an award-winning San Jose food writer and the author of Yogurt Culture. She served as interim managing editor for this issue. 

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