Organised in front of Building C of the University on 9th May 2023, the first Corvinus Farmers’ Market exceeded expectations. Although they emphasised that their main goal was not to make money but to educate, producers involved from among both past and present students found it also economically worthwhile to bring their produces to the event. “It’s about education, getting people to understand seasonality and things like that. Income is secondary in such cases,” one of the producers wrote about the market.
Strawberries were sold out before the closing of the market, but some other producers were also able to sell all of their products. Rice grower Giricz Petrik, for example, had expected to sell 20-30 kg of produce, but ended up selling an order of magnitude more, and other producers also had similar impressions. “In terms of income, it was better than our weekly markets, so it was worthwhile to participate, but – even more importantly than financially – it was also worthwhile for the sake of the audience,” another producer wrote.
The Corvinus community was also open, according to the organisers. “There were a lot of people asking about the products at the stalls, and the producers really liked that. They received more questions here than at a traditional farmers’ market,” Zalán Maró, assistant lecturer at the Department of Agricultural Economics and one of the main organisers of the event, explained. Some of the producers were trying this form of marketing for the first time, so they also gained important experience.
“Working with the students at the University was positive in all aspects, because I got to know a very open and accepting community through you and customers. It feels good to know that awareness is important for young people in Hungary. Special thanks to the students who considered environmental protection important and brought back our boxes or brought their own bags!” one of the producers wrote.
According to the organisers, a lot of positive and valuable feedback was received from students and colleagues. Many people asked when the next event would be, and customers also liked the openness of the producers. In response to a questionnaire – which is still available and will be filled out by as many people as possible to the hopes of the organisers, enabling them to evaluate results as accurately as possible –, answers have been received, such as “I really liked it, the sellers were nice” and “The sellers were cool people, just like Zalán Maró and his colleagues!”.
Aside from community-building conversations, prices provided no reason to complain either. There were several products that were for sale here at similar or even better prices than in retail outlets. That was probably attributable to the high inflationary environment, according to Áron Török, Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Corvinus, because longer supply chains include more players, who are forced to incorporate rising costs into prices, and these items taken together might have increased prices further.
As for the future, several producers who were unable to attend but would like to be there next time have already contacted the organisers. “The news of the success of the market has spread, and even some friends of the producers have already contacted us to say that they would like to come next time,” Gréta Maró, PhD student and the other main organiser of the event, said.
“I really liked it in its current form, I would enjoy a similar one, even with more producers involved!”, a customer wrote in their reply to the questionnaire. Producers were of the same opinion: “I had a very good time, people were very much interested, I received intelligent questions.. If there is a chance, I would certainly like to participate in the next one,” one of the producers wrote.
After the farmers’ market, Gréta, Áron and Zalán were also invited to a conference, where they will present their experiences and explain why a farmers’ market is good from a marketing point of view. In addition, research has also been carried out on the subject, and we have written about it in this article.
Plans are being made to organise the Corvinus Farmers’ Market again in the autumn, and the organisers are about to make improvements by using feedback they receive. They would like to extend the possibility of payment by credit card, to widen the range of products by adding meat- and bakery products, and to better involve international colleagues and students, offering English-language price lists. Later on, their aim is to create a single brand, called Corvinus Farmers’ Market, to enable as many students as possible to learn from the conversations taking place at the market why it is good to buy high-quality, seasonal produce from local producers.
This successful market could not have been possible without the organisers’ enthusiastic and dedicated efforts. As organisers of the event and originators of the idea, Gréta Maró, Zalán Maró and Áron Török were on sight all through the event, helping both producers and buyers, thus being genuine hosts of the event. “You have done the organisation with heart and soul, the like of which, regrettably, I have not experienced in a long time. In terms of income, I closed in the top of the field compared to my established farmers’ markets”, one of the producers wrote in his feedback to the organisers.
Link to the questionnaire: https://corvinus.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_a5EWbetDVRiYR4q