I apologize to my MR peers for not posting this info here as well. I have been dropping info on the FFM Facebook page the past few months and neglected to post the info here (don't worry it was all the forums I forgot, not just you guys)- SORRY! Anyway, here is the Official Plan for the 2021 New England Frag Farmer's Market...
A little background...
The original intent of the FFM was so that I could host a show where hobbyists could set up next to the “big names” in the business. I have always believed that aquaculture is the key to keeping our hobby going and my hope was that if I gave everyone a chance to be able to sell their farmed corals we could create a long term model to sustain the hobby I love. I am proud to say that the FFM has become a MONSTER and some of the hobbyists who started small at the FFM have become “big names” now and have grown into large scale farmers, supplying hundreds of corals to marine aquariums across the country. I have also been a big advocate of the local fish store. They are where most of us start out and the people who have the heater that you need, that day, to save your tank. My hope was to still be able to continue this mission with this year’s FFM. That said...
But Corona Virus...
With the current virus numbers the way that they are, states asking for people to quarantine (including CT), limits on the number of people at indoor gatherings, and the fact that I run the FFM at a school, I have decided to run the FFM very differently this year... forced to, really. I reached out to a bunch of different hobbyists/shops to get their thoughts about what would work best for them this year. It was obvious that there isn’t really a good solution, but I think what I have come up with is the best option, given the state of the world right now. I present to you the
“FFM Roadtrip Weekend”
“FFM Roadtrip Weekend”
I am organizing the “FFM Roadtrip Weekend” for March 6th and 7th, the weekend that the FFM would normally be on. My thought is that we have all been sitting around, staring at our tanks, saving up/prepping for the FFM, hoping that it would happen. I am asking people to do the FFM, just don’t do it at my place- jump in the car and take a road trip that weekend. Visit your local fish store, and then visit a few other places too. Go spend that money that you have been saving with the people who would have been a part of the FFM all along. Support the places that you would be supporting at the FFM by visiting and buying some nice stuff for your tank. Here is what it looks like for different groups:
LFS- I am working with local shops to have special sales for that weekend. Some of them are hosting other vendors, or company reps to show off their products. I have been pushing them to do a “sale to end all sales” for the FFM this year. Make a trip out to see your local shop, then jump in the car and go visit one that you don’t normally see.
Hobbyists- I am also working with the hobbyists to set-up galleries of what they have to sell here on this FB page, and maybe elsewhere (working on this part still). They will be posting galleries, making sales, and then arranging to meet at LFS, or have people stop by their place to pick up. I am going to let each hobbyist decide what they are comfortable with.
E.O. Smith Coral Project and the other schools- I plan to put some of our corals up in a gallery as well, similar to the hobbyists. I am encouraging the other schools to do the same. I feel that these programs are vital to our hobby, and the planet. We need to get kids involved in conservation and the marine aquarium hobby!
Long Distance Vendors- Most of the LDV’s will be offering online specials for that weekend (free shipping, sales, etc…). I am going to encourage them to post things in the FB group as well. I will be adding these people to the map as well, just with websites/links. I am looking to host a few FFM exclusive live sales for a few of the vendors- more info on that as we get closer.
I am working on putting together a map, with all of the locations that you can visit, including a list of all of the specials that they will have for that weekend. It will look similar to a wine trail, or brewery, map. I am asking you guys, who would normally come out to the FFM to make the trip out to as many as you can on the map for the weekend. Just do me a favor and let them know that you are out on an FFM Roadtrip!
Who will be a part of this year’s FFM?
After quite a bit of debate, and an argument or two… I have decided to limit the participation in this event to people who were sellers at the 2020 FFM. I have been reaching out to people when I have a few minutes and if I have not reached out to you yet- shoot me a message. I know that there are a TON of other hobbyists who have gotten into small scale “farming” and I do want to encourage that but I also feel like I need to support the people who have officially been sellers at the FFM in the past. So, despite the fact that I could include everyone in this type of event, I am going to limit participation to hobbyists who sold at last year's event. If anyone has any questions about that, PM me and we can talk.
Is it the same thing? No...
I realize that this is not what most of you want for this year. It has been a frustrating year for everyone, and this ends up being just another thing on the list. I apologize to those of you who really wanted the FFM to be back, just like previous years. I just cannot, in good conscience, host a huge event like the FFM at the school, nor do I feel like hosting it somewhere else is the right thing to do. I have heard the “So, what we do every weekend?” complaint. I disagree with that because I have organized sales at all the local shops and online specials for the other ones. People call the FFM “Reefer Christmas” so here are your Black Friday Sales. To be clear, I am not charging any of the shops, or hobbyists any set up fee this year. I am actually not making any money for the school program from this, with the exception of any corals we sell. I have never been in this for the money, just to put together the best reef show I can for you guys. Given the circumstances, this is the best option for the FFM this year. My plan is to take a road trip myself that weekend to see some of the shops I don’t normally get to. So saddle up, and maybe I’ll see you out there!
More to come!
I do still have a few things up my sleeve to make this just a little bit better- giveaways, contests, etc… I will be making announcements on the FB page as things come together. Just a few little things to make your FFM Roadtrip worth your while!