Farmers’ Markets Bloom Again
Farmers’ markets appear to be opening in warming parts of the country
to strong crowds and highly-positive press. Last year, 6,132 farmers’ markets
were open nationwide, a 16 percent increase over the year before, and double
the number of markets a decade ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
articles heralding the openings attributed their popularity to consumers looking
to eat fresher food and support local businesses.
“It’s nice to support our local farmers,” Joyce Beneke, visiting
a local farmers’ market in San Antonio, told KSAT 12 in Texas. “And I’m
Consumers are also said to assume that produce from the
local farmer will be safer.
“People are more aware (of pesticides) and they want to go organic,” Celia
Rios, with Peralta Farms in Natalia, told KSAT.
One change over the last decade
is that farmers’ markets are increasingly offering more variety beyond fruits
and vegetables. For instance, the market in Kennett, MO will be offering hand-made
crafts, handmade soaps, lotions, salsa and candles. Also for sale will be
herbs and spices, bedding plants, hanging and potted plants and cut flowers,
as well as cheese, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, baked goods, local honey, maple
syrup and preserves.
Farmers’ markets also appear to be getting more
organized. Credit cards are increasingly being taken by stands. In Minneapolis,
food stamps are being increasingly accepted.
Still, some believe of the charm
of farmers’ markets is the social aspect.
“What I love and have learned is that every market has its own vibe,
its own personality,” said Pascale Le Draoulec, director of farmers markets
in Hastings, Irvington and Chappaqua in New York and a former restaurant critic
for the New York Daily News, to Weschester.com. “The market has to reflect
the community; each is a place where people can come and hang out, and experience
small town life on the weekends.”
Mr. Le Draoulec said he favored the European approach “where if
you’re having a dinner
party or simply a family dinner, you can come to the market and get the freshest,
most flavorful locally grown or produced things you need.”
But he also
advocated a family-friendly emphasis.
“My children often spend the day with me at the market. They like
hanging out with the vendors (who always give them tastes), and are gaining
a huge appreciation of food. They’ve helped plant lettuce, and then watch
it come to market three weeks later. It’s such a great experience for
them. It’s important
for them and for all of us to know that there’s a story behind the food.”
- Annual update for USDA National Farmers Market Directory begins – South
- Farmers’ Markets Growing With Demand – KSAT 8
- Cool temps don’t deter farmers market customers – Lancaster Eagle
- Small town farmers markets filling a need – Eastern Iowa Life
- More farmers markets take food stamps – Minneapolis Star Tribune
- Farmers Market to offer wide variety of products – The Daily Dunkin
- Farmers Market Director Talks About Food And Community – Wescheter.com
Discussion Questions: What do you think is behind the popularity of farmers’ markets? Does the growth of these markets represent a competitive threat to food retailers and, if so, what should they do about it?