In agriculture, we talk a lot about sustainability. As a method of growing crops, caring for ecosystems like forests or wetlands, or even the economic sustainability of businesses—we look at this word from all angles. But there’s another component to consider: cultural sustainability.
As a nation of immigrants, we have many rich and complex influences woven into the history of our country. Foods we eat, holidays we celebrate, how we create goods or perform services—these are all things that are shaped by the cultural identities of our families and the communities around us.
For many communities, farmers markets are playing a pivotal role in maintaining and enabling these cultural ties. Read more »
Over the first week of August, local markets across the country celebrated National Farmers Market Week.
Farmers markets are an important part of America’s diverse agriculture sector, providing unique benefits to communities across our nation. They give Americans a chance to learn about agriculture by meeting some of the people who grow and raise our food. They provide valuable marketing opportunities for small and beginning farmers – many of whom scale up to larger regional markets and other institutions. And they help expand access to locally-grown foods that are in greater demand than ever before. Read more »
The Romanesque Revival market house, pictured above, was built in 1889. Today, Central Market is home to many families that have been coming to the market for generations. Photo courtesy Lancaster Central Market.
What better time than National Farmers Market Week to explore the history of farmers markets in the United States? Farmers markets are a critical ingredient to our nation’s food system, and date back to 1730 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the United States.
“Meet me at the Market” has for decades been a phrase commonly heard by Lancaster citizens. In 1730, when city planners designed the city they designated a 120 square foot lot in the center of town as a public market place giving birth to the Lancaster Central Market. Over the years the size of the market and the number of vendors has changed, but there’s evidence that the farmers market may have had 400 vendors at one point in time. Read more »
My mom raised five kids, taught high school chemistry for 15 years and then retired back to the family farm in 1986. Her new life on the farm depended on the Salisbury, MD farmers market where she sold daylilies. The farmers market, just one of 8,000 or more markets listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, gave her the opportunity she needed to start her own business.
Each Saturday she loaded up her station wagon with plants and drove into town, displaying the lilies by color. When she wanted to expand her plant offerings, my brother built her a small greenhouse. She became known as the farmers market’s Flower Lady. Read more »
Code for America Northern Virginia Brigade members work on challenges at the NSF event in the foreground while USDA subject matter experts discuss Farmers Market data in the background (right side). Our challenge yielded at least eight different projects across the country. Photo by Tim Koeth.
This past weekend, civic hackers across the country took action—or hack-tion—when they gathered together to use their coding, designing and tech-making powers for good. Armed with a passion for data and working under a framework that focused their energies on solving civic problems, over 11,000 individuals set out to make a difference at 95 different events in 83 cities and communities across the nation.
At USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, we serve many communities in a variety of ways. From our support of farmers markets and food hubs to our work with industry stakeholders, we focus on supporting the business and marketing side of American agriculture. So, when we first heard about the National Day of Civic Hacking, we knew immediately that we wanted to participate. Read more »
A farmer’s market patron enjoys orange samples and talks to the booth vendor at a San Francisco area market. The new Farmers Market API released by AMS will give app developers and designers an easier way to leverage the wealth of information in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory. Photo by Gary Yost.
America is developing quite an app-etite. The number of U.S. smartphone owners is approaching 130 million, resulting in more and more demand for mobile access to our information. Combine that with the increase in consumers wanting access to fresh, local products, and it’s obvious why there’s such a high demand for the data in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory. Read more »