Delco Local Charisse McGill Leads the Farmers Market Coalition

Photos courtesy Aversa PR

There was a time when Charisse McGill had never been to a farmers’ market. A decade later, she directs the Farmers Market Coalition, providing resources to 8,000 markets nationwide.

When you show up to your local farmers’ market next weekend, take a moment to look around at all the stalls, goods and farmers that show up. On an individual scale it might not seem like too much work on the part of each vendor to create an event like that. Yet Aldan local Charisse McGill is well aware of the effort required to ensure each farmers’ market runs smoothly.

“Being a farmers’ market manager, that is a career path,” she says.

Hired in June 2023 as the executive director of Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), a national organization, McGill is a liaison for approximately 8,000 markets across the United States.

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Formerly the manager of the Lansdale Farmers’ Market, McGill knows all too well the daily endeavor that is keeping such an organization afloat. Lansdale Farmers’ Market was in so much chaos at the time of her appointment to the position that the first market of the spring season occurred just four days after her hiring.

Prior to that experience, McGill had next to no background with farmers’ markets; she had never even been to one. What she saw there made an impact though.

“What I saw were folks living their dream under a 10×10 white tent,” she recalls.

That dream inspired McGill to create her own food business. Born out of her daughter’s entrepreneurial spirit spending weekends at the farmers’ market selling local lemonade and juices, the mother/daughter duo debuted Lokal Artisan Foods, now known for its French toast bites.

With semi-permanent locations and pop-ups around the Philadelphia area at locations like Spruce Street Harbor Park, Cherry Street Pier, Made in America and more, McGill went from a farmers’ market novice to both managing and participating in the span of just six years.

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The key? Building leaders at every level.

After spending formative years working at the Valley Forge Military Academy, McGill embraced a newfound sense of leadership. That initiative helped her build Lokal Artisan Foods into a company with 85% staff retention, allowing McGill to focus more on her next project.

Her meteoric rise from teacher to farmers’ market manager to founder of Lokal Artisan Foods propelled McGill towards farmers’ market stardom. Now a well-known figure in the business, her latest position takes the challenge of organizing a farmers’ market one step further.

Though the new job isn’t exactly as hands-on as her former position with the Lansdale Farmers’ Market, the FMC provides resources to local markets like legal toolkits, networks of support and forums to discuss ideas and problems. It also gives farmers a voice in public policies that impact our food system by making sure those individuals are understood and represented at both state and federal levels.

McGill even recalls working with the FMC when she was at Lansdale Farmers’ Market to make SNAP and EBT programs available for lower income families looking to obtain fresh produce. FMC provided Lansdale with the equipment, training and even the wooden coins that used to act as currency for the program.

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Charisse McGill makes an appearance on local media.
Charisse McGill makes an appearance on local media.

Now McGill stands on the other side of that token. Formerly the middlewoman between individual farmers and the FMC, she now leads the push for social justice and equity for farmers in small communities across the United States. 

Just over a decade ago, when McGill had never been to a farmers’ market in her life, it would be hard to imagine her leading the charge for National Farmers Market Week or amplifying the voices of unheard farmers in small towns everywhere from Delco to Wyoming. Her energy brings a fresh sense of promise to an organization that finds America craving more and more freshly grown produce every year.

“I am honored to lead an organization dedicated to serving and supporting local farmers markets across the country,” McGill enthuses. “Together we’ll blaze new paths, sow seeds of change and harvest a brighter future for farmers, consumers and communities.”

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