Sutton Community Farm: Improving the Sutton People’s Kitchen Market Stall Experience

Sponsor: Sutton Community Farm SuttonD16-photo2
Sponsor Liaison: Veryan Wilkie-Jones
Student Team: Colin Harrington, Patricio Janson, Joshua Logan-Rung, Gina Rios
Abstract: This project improved the effectiveness of the Sutton People’s Kitchen market stall experience by promoting it to the Sutton community and engaging visitors through educational activities. We conducted surveys at four market stalls in the London Borough of Sutton to determine the success of our objectives: assessing promotional strategies and pilot-testing activities about healthy eating habits for the market stall. This report presents our results and conclusions based on those surveys, as well as our recommendations for future market stalls.
Link: Final report (SuttonD16_report)
Final presentation (SuttonD16_presentation)

Executive Summary

One in four adults in the United Kingdom (UK) is obese, or has a body mass index (BMI)
greater than 30.0 (Scantlebury & Moody, 2014; CDC, 2012a). The Health and Social Care
Information Centre of the UK estimates that obesity is the fourth largest risk factor contributing
to death in England (after hypertension, smoking, and high cholesterol) (Scantlebury & Moody,
2014). The fundamental causes of excess weight and obesity are an intake of foods high in fat
and caloric content and a lack of physical activity to burn off excess ingested calories (WHO,
2015). However, a lack of healthy eating and regular exercise are not the only factors
contributing to excess weight. Societal and environmental factors influence people’s health
decisions. There are several common barriers to healthy eating, such as cost of maintaining a
healthy diet, personal food preferences, lack of education about healthy eating, and lack of
resources (Carlson & Frazão, 2012; Healthwise BC, 2014; NHLBI, 2012; Stevenson et al.,
2007). Spreading information about healthy eating habits can reduce these barriers so people can
make educated decisions about the foods they eat.

Sutton Community Farm, a community owned farm located in the London Borough of
Sutton, recently undertook the Sutton People’s Kitchen (SPK) project to promote healthy
lifestyles in Sutton, where nearly two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese (JSNA, 2015). The
main goals of SPK are to create a community around food, encourage healthy eating habits, and
promote locally grown food. SPK aims to accomplish these goals through their cooking clubs,
community banquets, and pop-up market stall. The pop-up market stall is an event held on
Saturdays featuring cooking demonstrations with free food samples, games and activities, and
healthy lifestyle information. After a successful pilot test in 2015, the Sutton Council provided
funds for the realization of ten market stall events for 2016. The team of WPI students attended
the first four market stalls in collaboration with volunteers of Sutton People’s Kitchen. The
project officially launched 2 April 2016.

Goal, Objectives, and Methods
The goal of this project was to improve the effectiveness of the market stall experience
that was pilot-tested by the Sutton People’s Kitchen in the summer of 2015 by promoting it to the
Sutton community and engaging visitors through interactive and educational activities. We
created the following objectives that helped us reach this goal:

1. Assess promotional strategies for the market stall.

2. Pilot test activities about healthy eating habits for the market stall experience.

In order to complete our first objective, we designed and distributed posters and flyers
and explored various social media platforms in order to provide Sutton People’s Kitchen with
recommendations for the best methods of promotion to further the influence of the stall. The goal
of our promotional strategy was to inform Sutton community members of the market stall’s
existence, location, and dates of operation, and encourage them to visit. We chose to investigate
flyer distribution and social media as methods of promotion because they are low-cost or
costless, which SPK’s limited budget necessitated, and have the potential to reach a large number
of community members. The team developed a design for the posters and flyers that we used to
promote the market stall events of 2016. For internet-based methods of promotion, our team
managed Sutton Community Farm’s existing Facebook and Twitter social media accounts and
created an Instagram account for Sutton Community Farm. We shared 24 posts through all social
media platforms to promote the market stall events along with other posts that promoted Sutton
Community Farm as a whole. We used surveys to determine how well our promotional strategies
worked and which were the most effective in order to provide SPK with recommendations for
their future flyer and poster distribution practices and social media use.

In order to complete our second objective, we developed and pilot-tested several
activities that promote healthy lifestyles. The Sutton Council, a government organization, funds
SPK. Thus, the educational material provided in the activities must align with the information
promoted by the government. For that reason, we designed the activities based on the NHS
guidelines. We assessed the educational value of the Eatwell Plate activity and the Sugar Smart
activity with questions on the quiz portion of our survey, which tested the participants’
knowledge of the NHS recommendations. Participants completed surveys and quizzes after they
completed activities. We used these surveys and quizzes to measure the educational success of
the activities. We also observed participants to gauge their level of enjoyment in the stall’s

Results and Discussion
Deliverables from the first objective, assess promotional strategies for the market stall,
included a new flyer and poster design, a map of flyer distribution locations, an active Instagram
account for SPK, and an analysis of our results with recommendations for the best methods of
promotion for Sutton Community Farm.

We distributed flyers and posters to eleven locations, five on Sutton High Street and six
on Wallington High Street. Eight people throughout the four market stalls (about 1% of visitors)
said they came to the stall because they saw a poster or flyer.
We created an active Instagram account where for every six users we followed, one user
followed us back. On average, the posts designed as direct promotion and the posts designed for
subtle promotion performed similarly. However, social media had no significant impact as a
promotional strategy for the market stall because the majority of visitors were passers-by on
Sutton High Street. Instead, social media is more effective at promoting the message of Sutton
People’s Kitchen and Sutton Community Farm to a wider audience.

Deliverables from the second objective included pilot-tested activities for the SPK to use
in the future and details of what was successful and what needed further development in relation
to these activities. We participated in market stalls on four Saturdays in the spring of 2016. The
number of visitors to the stall over the four Saturdays we attended was 225 for 2 April, 210 for 9
April, 230 for 16 April, and 163 for 23 April. During these events, we pilot-tested five activities
of which two were educational. We then evaluated the activities using a multiple-choice quiz.

There was a control group consisting of people who completed the quiz without participating in
our activities. In addition, we had three experimental groups consisting of people who completed
the Eatwell Plate activity, the Sugar Smart activity, or both before starting the quiz. The average
quiz scores of the experimental groups were higher than the average score for the control group
at all four market stalls. Question two specifically tested the Eatwell Plate activity and question
four specifically tested the Sugar Smart activity. On questions two and four, the experimental
groups had higher average scores than the control group at all four market stalls. Other quiz
questions that we did not specifically design to assess our activities also revealed some important
information. For example, question three tested participants’ knowledge of the NHS
recommendation of 150 minutes of physical activity per week. In both the experimental and
control group, the majority of participants answered incorrectly. Several factors influenced the
experience at each market stall event. The weather, layout, and the location of the stall greatly
influenced the number of visitors and participants. The weather played an important role in the
number of visitors per market stall given that the market stall is exposed to the elements of
nature. The market stall’s layout affected the visibility of the activities and the cooking

After assessing promotional methods for the stall, we have several recommendations. We
recommend having a designated volunteer at the market stall distribute flyers and attract visitors
to the stall on the Saturdays the market stall runs. In addition, we recommend the continued use
of all social media accounts in promoting both the market stall, and more importantly, the
message of Sutton People’s Kitchen and Sutton Community Farm. Specifically, we recommend
the farm maintain its Instagram account in order to update the community on their events and
continuously spread their healthy lifestyle message.

We pilot-tested several interactive and educational activities for the stall. We recommend
Sutton People’s Kitchen to continue the use of the Eatwell Plate activity and the Sugar Smart
activity since our data indicated both activities were effective at educating participants. We also
recommend Sutton People’s Kitchen develop an activity based on the NHS’s recommendation of
150 minutes of physical activity. In addition, we recommend a permanently placed volunteer at
the activities that can explain and guide the participants as they engage. We believe that
implementing these recommendations on promotional strategies and the market stall activities
will increase the reach of Sutton Community Farm’s message and the Sutton community
members’ knowledge regarding healthy eating.