Editor’s note: For our fall Nonprofit issue, we invited local nonprofit leaders to reflect on the successes and challenges of operating a 501(c)(3) in Western North Carolina.
Lyric Antio is the market director of the RAD Farmers Market, which was recently incorporated as a nonprofit.
Xpress: What inspired RAD Farmers Market to apply to become a nonprofit?
Antio: We saw the value in nonprofit status on several levels, including giving the market a more expansive and meaningful role in the community. Part of our mission statement is increasing food access in Buncombe County, and the nonprofit status has opened new doors to creatively achieve that mission.
How has the change helped your market reach new goals?
Gaining 501(c)(3) nonprofit status has opened the market to new funding sources that we didn’t have access to before while connecting us to the community in new ways. For example, we were able to partner with our neighbors at Second Gear as their nonprofit of the month for July. The market received 1% of sales from that month and we hosted a pop-up minimarket at the store. These additional funding sources paired with developing a clear mission statement has enabled us to offer more free, fun educational activities at the market.
What were the challenges associated with filing for the status?
As a long-running community market with over 30 vendors, there were many perspectives to include while we were incorporating. Assembling a board, writing bylaws, etc., all take time and intention to effectively serve the community, and we are grateful for all the input we received that informed the process.
What advice would you give to other farmers markets looking to do something similar?
My advice for all farmers markets is to legitimize the structure of your organization and find what is sustainable for your context. Many markets operate with no business structure, which can leave you vulnerable. Take yourself seriously. Farmers markets are part of the vital infrastructure in the movement of relocalizing our food systems, and we must ensure they are built on strong foundations.