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The Farmer’s Perspective: How Farmers Markets Help Producers

Microgreens grown by John Biscoe.  Farmers markets are the missing link between John and the people who eat the food he grows.

Microgreens grown by John Biscoe. Farmers markets are the missing link between John and the people who eat the food he grows.

During National Farmers Market Week, we celebrate farmers markets across the country, their popularity and their growth.  But there wouldn’t be any farmers markets without farmers. Just as farmers markets help consumers know their farmer and know their food, they also help producers know their customers and know their business.  I’d like to share with you one Virginia farmer’s account of how a farmers market helped him:

“My name is John Biscoe. I own Glenburnie Farm Produce Company. We grow microgreens, herbs and seasonal vegetables on our farm in western Spotsylvania County, Virginia. My family has farmed the same land since the early 1860s, primarily raising cattle—first for beef and later for dairy.

I began selling produce direct to restaurants over 10 years ago and began selling at farmers markets in 2010. Currently I sell to restaurants in the Fredericksburg area and at the Spotsylvania Farmers’ Market.

In a practical sense I benefit most from our farmers market simply because it provides me a setting for the sale of my products at retail prices. For the most part, we farmers are very good at aspects of our operations related to production, but somewhat less so at marketing and sales. My farm is located outside the most heavily populated areas of our county and on roads which don’t bear enough traffic to support a significant retail enterprise. The market affords me access to people without having to expend time, money, and intellectual energy (all of which are in short supply much of the time).  The market creates a venue for them to come to me.

A young boy carries a half-eaten tomato. From Biscoe’s perspective, food like tomatoes becomes more than just a commodity when you are able to meet your customer face-to-face.

A young boy carries a half-eaten tomato. From Biscoe’s perspective, food like tomatoes becomes more than just a commodity when you are able to meet your customer face-to-face.

However, the market has inherent value above and beyond that. The farmers market is the missing link between me as a grower and the people who eat the food that I grow. At the market I see the direct results of my labors: individuals who like to eat the things I grow because they taste good and are good for them. You meet brave souls who love to try food they’ve never had before. You see that tomatoes are more than just a commodity—they are a part of people’s lives on some level.  It has often been said that face time between producers and consumers at farmers markets creates a more vested consumer, but in my case it certainly makes a more vested producer.”

Visit the Farmers Market Directory on the Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) website and get to know the farmers near you.

5 Responses to “The Farmer’s Perspective: How Farmers Markets Help Producers”

  1. Nicole says:

    Great story! Would love to see you at the West End Farmers Market

    http://www.westendfarmersmarket.org

  2. john biscoe says:

    thanks Nicole- I considered the West End Market before I began where I am… I got my start selling produce with Richmond restaurants…

    I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge some of the most important people in the entire market process… the market managers. These people work their tails off for little or no money in a position that greatly resembles herding cats. i have been fortunate enough to be involved in markets with great managers.

    I began at the Mineral Farmers Market in 2010, managed by Becky Vigon. It is a small yet very diverse market with an extremely comfortable family atmosphere. Anyone in the Louisa/Lake Anna area is well served by this market.

    The Spotsylvania Market is the largest in the Fredericksburg area and very ably managed by Elizabeth Borst. There is a wider variety of produce available at Spotsy than any market I have been fortunate enough to attend, people are very friendly (seems to be my operative term for describing these markets), and we’d love to see folks from the greater Fredericksburg area (and beyond) there on any Saturday morning.

  3. Becky Vigon says:

    John, the Mineral Farmer’s Market misses you, but we’re SO PROUD of your continued successes!

  4. childcare CYPW says:

    Thanks a lot for posting – just needed to say wonderful blog!

  5. Chris says:

    This was a great blog post. I am all about organic food items especially microgreens and http://www.growingmicrogreens.com is where I get all of my organic items from. This really gave me a better understanding and perspective. Thanks for sharing!

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