FM Tracks is a novel iOS application and web-based portal to collect, manage, and evaluate information about your farmers' market. FM Tracks can be used by other direct-to-consumer markets, including CSAs and mobile markets. Learn more about how market managers have used FM Tracks to build their business here.
What can FM Tracks do for you?
- Save Time. Market information can be directly entered into one place.
- Save Money. Reduce staff time spent on recording and processing information.
- Improve Your Market. Use customer information to recruit new customers, increase vendor sales, and make changes to your market.
- Show Impact. Create automatic reports about your market for public use
FM Tracks development is led by Dr. Darcy Freedman, Director of the Mary Ann Swetland Center for Environmental Health. The software launched in 2015 to provide efficiency and quality control for farmers’ markets operating federal nutrition incentive programs. Initial development was supported by seed funding from the Ohio Department of Health, Wholesome Wave, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently more than 1,000 markets nationally, in 30 states and the District of Columbia, use FM Tracks.
Today, FM Tracks is supported by an innovative partnership that brings together researchers, technology developers, and healthy food incentive practitioners. They are working to modernize FM Tracks with the changing landscape of nutrition incentive program delivery by:
- Building capacity among healthy food incentive program practitioners to increase affordable access to healthy foods;
- Developing industry standards for uniform healthy food incentive data collection;
- Building an evidence base to educate and expand capacity for healthy food incentive policy, systems, and environmental changes.
Case Western Reserve University is working with partners to license and disseminate the iOS-based app and website for gathering and organizing sales and incentive usage data while evaluating trends and impact. Currently, dissemination partners include Wholesome Wave (through May 2022) and Produce Perks Midwest.
- Users: Intended for use by direct-to-consumer market managers operating one or more markets, and for healthy food incentive network managers organizing programming locally, regionally, or across states.
- Central System for Recording Information: Provides a central portal for sales transactions, recording information about customers, the market, and healthy food incentives.
- Transaction Accounting: Designed to track transaction data, specifically for SNAP/EBT and other federal nutrition benefit programs, as well as credit/debit and cash to make distribution and redemption healthy food incentive funding easy and straightforward.
- Customer Level Data Collection: With the ability to assign unique customer IDs, market managers can now better understand who is shopping at their market, and tailor activities to attract more customers.
- State-of-the-Art Methods for Evaluation: Includes metrics used and approved by the USDA, Farmers Market Coalition, and the US Census to support comparisons to other data sources.
- Real-Time Access to Reporting: Data dashboard provides quick look at market trends and reporting features allow for more careful examination of impact.
FM Tracks is not a system for transacting and transferring money.
FM Tracks Mobile App
Running on an iOS device (iPad, iPad mini), the mobile app is used by market managers to collect information on-site. This includes:
Sales data (e.g., amount of SNAP and incentives distributed, amount of SNAP and incentives redeemed with vendors)
Customer data (e.g., unique customer IDs, zip code, how did they hear about the market)
Market Day information (e.g., weather, number of vendors, any special events)
Health, economic, and community impacts of the market (e.g., do customers report increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables because they are shopping at the market; do they find the market welcoming; do they plan to spend additional money in the neighborhood).
The mobile app replaces the traditional pen-and-paper method of on-site data collection, reducing error and saving time for managers. Data can be entered into the mobile app without an Internet connection.
Access the App through the Apple Store.
FM Tracks Website
The website is used to register your market or network of markets. It provides the capabilities to manage and view all data entered via the mobile app, reporting and exporting functions, the ability to add new markets, and the selection of questions to be asked at market. You can also develop your own questions for your markets and request they be added to the system. Finally, the website also has a manual entry function to allow data collected via pen-and-paper at market to be inputted off-site. With this function, even if your market does not have an iOS device, FM Tracks can be still be used.
FM Tracks is designed for managers operating direct-to-consumer markets (e.g., farmers markets, mobile markets, or CSAs). Markets that use FM Tracks to collect sales, customer, and vendor data at the market are able to use their data for personal accounting, for year-to-year comparisons about market metrics, or to share with advisory boards, funders, or the general public. How can you improve customer service with FM Tracks? Find out here!
To begin collecting data, complete one registration for each market location. A market manager may register up to five market locations under one user ID*. If you have more than five market locations, register as a “Network” first to connect the markets.
* All data entered under the same user ID will be visible to all market locations.
FM Tracks allows for markets to be connected through a Network feature. Networks include local, regional, and multi-state groups operating healthy food incentive programs or groups of 6 or more farmers markets operating at different locations. The Network feature of FM Tracks allows for all markets connected through a Network to share data collected via FM Tracks with a central Network Manager.
Aggregated data collected via FM Tracks is available for analysis. These analyses are informed by a data advisory council. For more information about accessing aggregated data for analysis, please contact Darcy Freedman, PhD, MPH.