Social learning and innovation at retail farmers' markets

C. Clare Hinrichs, Gilbert W. Gillespie, Gail W. Feenstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Retail farmers' markets are seen as key institutions in a more "civic agriculture," but little is known about how they promote small business entrepreneurship. Drawing on research in economic sociology and economic geography, this paper examines the role of social learning in vendor's innovation. Data from a 1999 mail survey of farmers' market vendors in California, New York and Iowa show that business innovation, as represented by intensity of vendors' innovative marketing practices and vendors' successful enterprise expansion, was modest. Social learning through engagement with customers contributed to more innovative marketing by vendors, while social learning through engagement with customers and fellow vendors increased the likelihood of vendors diversifying to additional markets beyond the farmers' market. Certain individual and enterprise characteristics also influenced vendor innovation. This suggests that, although important, the beneficial effects of social learning for vendors at farmers' markets remain moderated by human capital and structural factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-58
Number of pages28
JournalRural Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Social learning and innovation at retail farmers' markets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this