This is National Farmers Market Week

There is encouraging news coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Today we have 6,132 farmers markets. That’s a 16 % increase over 2009 and a marked increase since the USDA started tracking. The USDA has declared August 1-7 as National Farmers Market Week for 2010.

Olympia Farmers Market

I had an absolutely delightful time celebrating this week. Five months ago when I posted a St. Patrick’s Day blog, wordpress suggested a couple of other blogs as possibly related. I read them both and still do regularly. One of them, Susanintherain is a crackerjack writer with depth and wit. I commented on hers and she commented on mine and today, we met up at the market! We have good food in common and the outdoors and a belief in strong education systems and geographies and we’re both moms of boys and I can go on. Isn’t it said that one of the main benefits of Farmers Markets is that they cause more interactions creating a greater sense of community? I’m here to testify.

Before I launch into the other reasons to frequent a farmers’ market, let me begin by acknowledging that they are a heavy burden for some farmers. They get up early, transport produce, set it up and then after working a full day, take it all back down and work to find another use for a basket of wilted kale that didn’t sell. Still, markets have some distinct advantages:

  • They eliminate middle vendors and provide greater financial return to producers.
  • Farmers receive direct customer feedback on their produce and their prices.
  • Consumers who are unable to take advantage of a CSA have a reasonable way to buy small quantities of local, organic goods.
  • Discussions take place between producers and consumers about the products and the farming methods.
  • The food travels fewer miles and less fossil fuel is used.
  • They bring vitality into cities. Studies in the UK indicate that surrounding businesses do better on market days.
  • They’re fun! Visitors can try new things and enjoy the experience of purchasing their food as much as they enjoy preparing and eating it.

If you enjoy farmers markets as much as I do, there is at least one thing that we can do to make them more prevalent and ensure their viability. Access to farmers markets is contingent on land being available for farmers and ranchers. Although the number of farmers markets is increasing, inside the U.S. two acres of farmland is lost to development every minute and the number is greater in some other countries. Consider writing a letter to your representatives or signing a petition to ask Congress to ensure protection for farm and ranch lands.

Looking for a Farmers Market near you? The USDA enables you to search for farmers markets in your area here.

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week by visiting a farmers market!  Where is your favorite farmers market?

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60 Comments

  1. Farmers Markets are great.
    My fave is the Bryanston Organic Market, but I seldom get there.
    On Sunday mornings there is a rooftop market at my local Mall, Rosebank, but it is not exclusively for farmers. I buy fantastic cheeses, pickles and bakes there.

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  2. Awesome! Thanks so much for the information and giving us practical steps to help this important green issue.

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  3. It’s a measure of progress that we’re celebrating something called National Farmers Market Week! I celebrated by going to three—all very small town markets—here in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom where I’m on vacation. It is, of course, all about agriculture here. That makes for a very different kind of farmers market and, I think, a different set of problems for vendors. (People are so self-sufficient, they don’t buy much.) So, the mix of produce and products is different, even than my hometown of Concord, New Hampshire, which is a bit more urban/suburban.

    You raise a great point about land protection; in New Hampshire, we have municipal agricultural commissions (we’re working to start one in Concord) to work with municipal government to make agriculture and marketing of agricultural products easier for farmers and to ensure the protection of prime agricultural soils from development. It’s more important than most people understand.

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    • We have an impressive cooperative for ranch land in the Southern part of our state but one of the reason it appears so impressive is because it is so rare. We need to understand how much land is necessary and take steps to protect it now.

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  4. That IS great news! I suspect the increase is in non-factory farms, which is even better! I’m hoping that a return to better farming is part of the new energy rolling in now and one of the silver linings of the Big Crash we just had. Heard on NPR yesterday that real unemployment is 22% – Great Depression was 25%. So more people growing their own – including ‘farmettes’ makes sense to me. I think the localvore movement helps too. Plus there are fewer jobs in America so you have to a have a non-fungible job.

    Well – those are MY therories – what are yours Agrigirl Tammy? thanks for starting my day on this positive note!

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    • Those are great theories. I think gas prices play into it as well. Markets typically work in more urban core areas and at least in our own state, this is the area that is least impacted by the economy (people are moving to urban core to avoid long commute times).

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  5. The local farmers’ markets around here (suburban Boston) have become wonderful opportunities for socializing. They’re set up in parking lots, or at the library, or near a popular park, so they’re near a lot of existing foot traffic. It’s so much fun to run into friends, admire the produce, and make connections with the people who feed us.

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    • Thanks Lauren. I keep hearing a study quoted that actually quantifies the differences in interactions between farmers markets and traditional grocery stores. It seems intuitive but I love to read research.

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  6. Wonderful post, Tammy.

    We often frequent Farmer’s Markets and enjoy the energy and interaction with the farmers and other vendors.

    Long may they thrive!

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  7. Lisa H

     /  August 7, 2010

    Oh, the Olympia Farmer’s Market! Thanks for the pictures, as I was not able to make it up there this summer–it’s one of my favorite trips.
    I’ve been taking my kids with me to the local farmer’s market each week. They really enjoy the time picking out fresh produce, talking to the Italian man who makes our bread, and then we receive a heartfelt “thank you” when paying for our purchase. No fluorescent lights or high shelves, just fresh food and smiling faces (even during our miserably hot and humid summers).

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  8. Our favorite farmers market is Eastern Market in Detroit, Michigan. It is wonderful because not only can you get farm fresh produce but you are also exposed to different ethnic foods and flavors which you might not be otherwise. It is a great way to bond a diverse community.

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  9. We hit the Farmer’s Market at the Factory in Franklin, Tennessee, almost every Saturday morning. Great food, and, sometimes, live music. It’s really hard to beat.

    Here’s a question: I told my parents this morning that we’d been to the farmers market. They say farmers at the farmers market in their small town in eastern Kentucky aren’t allowed to undercut the prices at the local grocery stories. I’d never heard of that. Knowing how things work (or don’t) in my hometown, I wasn’t surprised, but have you heard of it happening any place else?

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  10. That’s just so wrong! I’d rather my money go 100 percent to the farmer, if possible, than force the farmer to sell wholesale, at a lower price, to a grocery store so that part of my dollar can be diverted to support that corporation. Nuts!

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  11. Thanks so much for the information. I had no idea it was National Farmers Market week. I didn’t have a chance to go any of my favorites this week and will definitely add it to my calendar next year.

    My new love is the Farmers’ Market at the Crocker Galleria on Thursdays from 11 – 3 pm. It is in the midst of downtown San Francisco and a lovely break from the office. It is a 10 minute walk from my office and is one of the best things about my work week. If you work in downtown San Francisco it is a must. Read the reviews, they say it best.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/san-francisco-farmers-market-at-crocker-galleria-san-francisco

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    • I used to live and work in SF but that was several years back. Still, I love to see places like this when I travel. Thanks Jeni.

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  12. oh that is great to see the increase!

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  13. Such a fan of farmers’ markets and it is always wonderful to read your informative posts about the real reasons they need our support.

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    • Thanks Jessica. BTW, there is some weird glitch going on with blogger right now and I can’t leave comments on any posts using that tool.

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      • I’ve been having that same problem when I try to comment using OpenID. I get around it by filling out the name/url fields.

        Also, another great post. I really hope to see more farmer’s markets in the future, and I wish that Paris would be more proactive in that domain. Sure, there are lots of markets, but the grand majority of the sellers are simply retailers, who stock up at the giant food market outside of town.

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  14. What a great reason to celebrate! I love a good farmer’s market. There is an organic farmer close to me and I’ve been driving to his farm to buy direct from him and love doing that too!

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  15. Nice post, Tammy! I love visiting farmer market. Recently I love visiting the farms where they let you pick your own veggies… it was not only fun but very educational.

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  16. That’s a huge increase from 2009 – woot! Glad I went to the Farmer’s Market last weekend to celebrate! Not that I need an excuse…I go every chance I can get! Great post!

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  17. And I just went to the store! I’ll have to remember next week :)

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  18. I just love farmers’ markets, and while I love that this summer I have a garden for the first time, it means that I don’t visit the markets as much. (It’s both positive and negative.) I love the community aspect of markets.

    I’m glad you pointed out how hard the farmers work to get ready for markets. After working for a few farms and helping them at farmers’ markets, I’ve seen this firsthand. It involves waking and harvesting extremely early so the customers have fresh food. But having been on the farmer side, it’s gives great pride to interact with customers.

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    • Yes, I’ve actually had my kids do community service by helping them set up. It’s great experience but also builds an appreciation for the hard job they do.

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  19. Hi Tammy! So glad we now share Olympia Farmers Market, too. I left for home last Friday with a full heart and a full bag–yum! What poetry to enjoy a farmers market lunch with Agrigirl in Susanintherain’s backyard, so to speak. I am looking forward to reciprocating when the gray gets to me this winter. I’ll see you next in the Arizona sun, where farmers markets maybe burst all year…could it be true?

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  20. I think it’s great you acknowledged the hard work and effort that farmers go through in order to make markets happen in the first place. Another reason to visit the market – thank a farmer for all of their efforts to provide us with fresh, nutritious foods! Cool that you met up with a fellow blogger at a farmers’ market as well!

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  21. Congratulations and good luck for your Farmers’ Market week ! I am a lucky one: our small kitchen garden grows beside the house. But since it is not enough, we get a “panier bio” (bio basket) every second week from a nearby farmer. It contains lots of veges and fruits of the season, sometimes honey, eggs or cheese. All so fresh and appreciated !

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  22. In the Nashville area, our farmers markets have more than tripled in the past couple of years, and I think its more than a trend: a real shift in awareness of what is good, on so many levels. now, if these good things could find their into the food deserts in town, and flourish…

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    • One of our markets actually incorporated as a not for profit and went into a building. It’s a great place with lots of local goods and a good coffee and space to meet a friend.

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  23. Hi Tammy,

    Our local farmers market is too crowded for me to spend much time there with my two preschoolers…but…

    Your blog inspired me, and I recently switched over to home-delivered organic milk from a farm 20 miles from my house. The milk comes in the old fashioned glass bottles and I swear it tastes better and fresher than the local milk we used to buy at the store!

    So thanks for the inspiration! I’m a fan of buying local. I actually spend more time buying on the side of the road farm stands this time of year than anywhere else, so I guess those are my mini farmers’ markets!!!

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  24. I can remember a time, where we took a great tasting tomato for granted..Great article Tammy…I enjoy reading your blogs…cheers MLB

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  25. If the economy doesn’t improve soon? Everybody will be planting survival gardens instead of victory ones!!lolMight have to move back to Missouri and live off the land? cheers dennis the mlhillbilly

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  26. wow I am on a roll!!!lol I read when the country of Israel was established in 1948, the people used the old testament in deciding what to grow in the country. Since, Arizona is similiar in many ways, wonder if we could do the same? Have a great weekend,, GO WILDCATS!!

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  27. Olympia is just a short drive for me. I’ll have to go check it out. ^^

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  28. This market sounds like fun,..Just look at the wonderful produce!! Waw!!

    We also have great markets over here in Belgium but farmer’s markets we don’t see here very often.

    Here, the Belgian vendores sell directly to the people in their own stands on the markets. Here in Belgium, we normally have overall good quality on fresh fruits & veggies, etc.

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    • I think it’s odd because American’s tend to think that farmers markets are quite European. Both you and Camille show us otherwise. Thanks for the visit Sophie.

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  29. I love farmers’ markets. I live in a small town in New York and our market is very small compared to what I see in your pictures. However, for our area, we do well. My sister runs a bakery and sometimes I help her out at her stand. But I always peruse what the other vendors have and usually buy quite a bit!

    Reply

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