By Isa Siewert
to August 8th
is National Farmers Market Week! This week-long holiday is a way to recognize and appreciate our markets for all of the value they bring to farms and their customers. Generating awareness for what they do for our community is essential for the survival of local farms and businesses. But farmers markets were not always as popular in the US as they are today.
A farmers market is a multi-stall market at which farmer-producers sell agricultural products directly to the general public at a central or fixed location, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables (but also meat products, dairy products, and/or grains). Generally, markets are stocked with food goods, but also include local crafts which provide equal value to the markets and should not be overlooked.
There is quite a bit of dispute as to where the first farmers market in the United States originated. Ranging from 1634 in Boston to 1730 in Lancaster, the one uniting theme was that the markets were center stage on the town square. Over the course of the 1700 to the 1900s, however, with the advents of grocery stores, farmers markets declined in popularity.
It was only nearing the 1970s when markets were picked up in the whirlwind of a rising concern for healthy living. Farmers markets were again recognized as a source of fresh produce and protein but this time, as a supplement to regular grocery shopping.
In 1977, the peach surplus drove legislators in California to make allowance for farmers markets where previously, sale of produce outside of commercial markets was outlawed. With markets gaining popularity in the west, and the surging interest in wellness across the nation, farmer’s markets were primed for success. Thankfully, success was rewarded when alongside their steady growth in popularity, the number of active markets grew 300% from 1994 to 2008.
Today, farmers markets add value by preserving farmland, stimulating local economies, supporting healthy communities, and so much more. If you want to locate your nearest farmers market, use this tool by the USDA.
If you are looking for more ways to get involved with National Farmers Market Week, check out the resources provided at the Farmers Market Coalition
Farmers Market Week is not all about the market, it is about upholding the value that local farms and artisans bring to us. If you cannot make it out to a farmers market in person, there are plenty of other ways to engage with your local community such as researching your local farms and extending your patronage to them.
Farm Credit is a proud supporter of the Farmers Market Coalition as well as farmers markets across all of the regions we serve. For more information about how we can support your business, reach out to us at Yankee Farm Credit.