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.
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.