Fresh Take Blog

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! A Career Found At the Farmers Market

By NIkki Warner  |  Mar. 29, 2024

Farmers markets are food system workhorses: they serve as vital food access points for eaters, economic engines for farmers and producers, and community gathering spots for neighbors. But did you know they can also serve as a professional springboard for those interested in a career in food system transformation?

Nikki Warner, a former FRESHFARM market and communications manager, is a great example. In 2016, she relocated to Minneapolis, MN, and quickly found her place and people at farmers markets, working at a producer-only farmers market before landing a job at The Good Acre, the largest nonprofit food hub in Minnesota.

Nikki is now the Director of Communications and Government Affairs at The Good Acre. “In this role, I develop and implement an annual communications strategy that supports our programs and helps to further our mission to unlock economic opportunities for farmers in our region through personalized support and market development,” notes Nikki. “I also develop and lead our organization’s government affairs initiatives which are focused on increasing market access opportunities for small farmers, especially BIPOC farmers, in Minnesota. Why is that important? Well, when you’ve been in the local food scene as long as I have, you start to see the systemic barriers in place that prevent small farmers from succeeding.” The Good Acre policy partners include IATPLand Stewardship Project, and Minnesota Farmers Union, and their recent collective work includes calling for an increase in funding for Minnesota Department of Agriculture Farm to School grant programs.

A few months ago, Nikki shared a social media post announcing that she was joining the board of a Minneapolis nonprofit that runs a network of markets. We couldn’t resist sharing Nikki’s post — it’s a great example of how what started as a side hustle managing Washington, DC farmers markets has turned into a career steeped in transformative food system work. We’ve included a few photos from her post here, but to see the full gallery, please check out the original.

If you are feeling inspired by Nikki’s story and looking for work, you are in luck! FRESHFARM is hiring for markets and beyond. Learn more about job opportunities and apply today.

If working at a farmers market isn’t in the cards for you, Nikki encourages us all to do our part to ensure a brighter food future. “The opportunities for legislative action to uplift small farmers are vast and varied,” she says. “And as Washingtonians, I encourage you all to support groups like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition that are leading the charge on many policy issues that can help our country invest in equitable and resilient food systems, especially in the face of a changing climate.”

Without further ado, please enjoy Nikki’s post.

“My journey into the vibrant world of farmers markets first began when I started managing the Penn Quarter FRESHFARM farmers market in DC in 2012. I fondly recall luminaries like José Andrés and his dedicated chef brigade loading up their carts week in and week out with the freshest seasonal delights our market vendors had to offer. When I started managing the Foggy Bottom farmers market, I found inspiration once again from individuals like Emily (Hagel) Paul, Head Chef at Miriam’s Kitchen at the time, and Gus Schumacher, a generous regular who funded a Nurses Day token promo for the nurses at GW Hospital which was right next door. Gus’s legacy lives on through the USDA’s GusNIP program, supporting EBT matching dollars and veggie Rx programs nationwide to the tune of $270 million since 2019. And as for Emily, to know her is to love her, and as luck would have it, we both ended up marrying Minnesotans and moving to Minneapolis within months of each other!

“When I relocated to Minneapolis in 2016, I knew that I’d find my people at farmers markets, and I was able to jump right into the amazing local food system here as the EBT coordinator for an epic season at the Mill City Farmers Market and Charitable Fund and Marketing Coordinator at the Minnesota Farmers Market Association before joining The Good Acre full time. The notion that I’d find my people ended up being so true, and many of the farmers, staffers, and volunteers I met that first year in Minnesota remain friends to this day.

“Farmers markets are where neighbors and food systems intersect – two of my absolute favorite things. This is why I’m thrilled to be joining the board at Neighborhood Roots (MN) a 501c4 nonprofit organization that is the home of the Kingfield, Fulton, and Nokomis farmers markets! This opportunity allows me to channel my farmers market passion, knowledge, and hands-on experience into fostering vibrant, healthy communities right here at home.

“For those seeking more joy, friendship, connection, and amazing food in 2024, meet me at the farmers market this upcoming growing season! And if you’re a business or nonprofit looking to engage meaningfully with the Kingfield, Fulton, or Nokomis neighborhoods, don’t hesitate to reach out! 🌱”

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