Updated: Jan 19, 2019
Christina McDougall is the Executive and Founding Director of Hoosier Farmers Markets. She combined her passions for local food, sustainable agriculture, relationship building and place-making with her knowledge of policy, nonprofit management, outreach and engagement, asset base community development and life-long learning.
More about Christina:
1. What is the mission of the Hoosier Farmers Market Association?
Hoosier Farmers Market Association (HFMA) is an education nonprofit serving Indiana farmers’ markets and their managers, boards, artisans, farmers and shoppers. HFMA collaborates with nonprofits, businesses, and agencies to strengthen the farmers market network in Indiana through direct marketing via temporary place-making.
Our mission is to strengthen the local food system, increase fresh food access, foster economic development and encourage thriving communities through direct marketing relationships at Indiana farmers’ markets.
Our vision is that Indiana will have a vibrant local food system in which all Hoosiers have knowledge of their area farmers and artisans, and public access to their community’s farmers market.
2. What is your professional background?
Master of Public Affairs in Nonprofit Management, Fundraising Certificate, Alternative Dispute Resolution Certificate - Indiana University, 2011.
Bachelor of Science in Social Studies Education; English Writing - Indiana University, 2003.
I’ve been a social researcher, public school educator, coach, choreographer, policy wonk, campaign manager, and account manager. HFMA allows me to use all of my education and professional experiences to encourage meaningful community change.
3. What inspired you to form the Hoosier Farmers Market Association?
I have two inspirations that drove me to form Hoosier Farmers Markets.
First, I knew I wanted to teach adult learners how to access local food, nutrition information, and government resources in order to become more active and engaged citizens. As an adult, I learned the food I had eaten my entire life was literally killing me. I have always had 150 food allergies, but didn’t know this until I was 25 years old. Eliminating the toxic foods was easy, but replacing them with whole, clean, and fresh foods was difficult and expensive in a grocery store environment. I went directly to my food sources and began visiting farms and farmers markets. Not only did I find fresh, chemical-free food but I found a supportive community.
Second, I had a vision to develop Indiana’s local food economy so that all people whether they make $5,000 or $500,000 per year know where their food comes from and how to access it. Prior to HFMA’s formation, there wasn’t a tool for finding active Indiana farm markets and farmers markets. Not only does HFMA maintain an active farmers market database, but we also include information as to which locations accept SNAP (formerly food stamps), WIC, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program benefits, and other low-income incentive programs. There’s a belief that fresh food and farmers markets are unaffordable, but I’ve found the opposite to be true in most communities. When I eliminated processed foods, and replaced them with produce, I cut my monthly grocery bill in half. Shopping directly from farmers and learning food preservation, I was able to cut my monthly food costs in half again.
4. What is the biggest challenge starting up your business?
The challenge is two-fold:
1. Securing catalytic and sustainable funding to grow HFMA’s human capacity.
2. Responding to the ever-changing needs of Indiana’s local direct-marketing agriculture economy.
5. What are your plans for growth over the next year?
Develop the next stage of our strategic plan, and grow Hoosier Farmers Market’s human capacity so we can provide the educational resources for community farmers markets to survive and thrive.
6. What advice do you have for other women thinking about starting up a business?
Have a strategic plan V1.0, V1.5. and V2.0, and know when it’s time to implement the next phase. Also have personal, informal advisors in addition to your board.
7. Any other details of your story or nuggets of wisdom you’d feel would benefit your fellow Startup Ladies?
Know your own individual capacity, then optimize it rather than maximizing it. Be a person first, a wife/mother/daughter/sister/friend second, and a CEO third.
Connect: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christinammcdougall/