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Farmers markets have become a critical ingredient to our nation’s economy, food systems, and communities. Connecting rural to urban, farmer to consumer, and fresh ingredients to our diets, farmers markets are becoming economic and community centerpieces in cities and towns across the U.S.
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to kick off National Farmers Market Week at a wonderfully diverse and thriving market—the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace in Washington, DC. Columbia Heights represents what I envision many farmers markets are like– a market with a deep sense of community that provides local residents with access to fresh, locally produced fruit, vegetables, meats, baked goods, and much more. It’s also a place where neighbor meets neighbor, and the many benefits of having a farmers market nearby are felt throughout the community. Read more »
A vendor places tomatoes into a plastic bag for a customer at a Maryland farmers market. Many beginning producers use farmers markets as the gateway to direct marketing opportunities. Photo by Elvert Barnes
This week we’ve celebrated farmers markets as a vibrant segment of U.S. agriculture that offers a unique and personal way to connect producers and consumers. We highlighted decades of farmers market participation, updated the status of farmers markets across the U.S., offered an example of innovation in the lessons learned by a market in Kentucky, and explained how structure and function interact through farmers market architecture. Now, with National Farmers Market Week coming to a close tomorrow, we thought we should share some perspective on how farmers markets fit into the larger local and regional food landscape. Read more »
A design concept for the outside of Michigan’s indoor/outdoor market arena. After developing a design concept, Fidel Delgado, AMS Architect, provides cost estimates and a feasibility assessment.
Farmers markets are evolving. They are moving away from seasonal, parking lot produce stands and becoming year-round, self-sustaining, community hubs. As more and more cities and communities look for ways to strengthen their local economies, we’ve seen more emphasis placed on both the infrastructure and the actual structure of their farmers markets. That’s where I come in. Read more »
For nearly 15 years, the Jeffersontown, KY, Farmers Market struggled. Dwindling to only four vendors selling to a handful of customers, the market was barely surviving from year to year. In 2009, the City of Jeffersontown found a recipe for success by combining the town’s enthusiasm and energy with support from USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) to reinvigorate and reinvent the farmers market.
FMPP is a competitive grant program administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The program provides funds to help establish, expand, and promote farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, and other direct-to-consumer marketing opportunities. FMPP has funded 443 diverse projects across the country since 2006. Read more »
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan (center, white jacket) buys produce during a July trip to visit the Baltimore farmers market in Maryland. The mid-Atlantic region saw double-digit growth in its listings in the National Farmers Market Directory. Maryland added 76 new market listings alone. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
We’ve known for some time that local food is a vibrant and growing sector in agriculture. Consumers are seeking out food produced in their region, and this local food – whether it’s purchased at a farmers market, in a grocery store, at a restaurant or elsewhere – is now a multi-billion dollar industry. This week, we received further evidence of the strength of consumer demand for local foods. The National Farmers Market Directory, compiled by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has just been updated and shows a nearly 10 percent increase in listings over last year. Read more »
Elmer Moje sells German Stiffneck garlic at his stand in the Tonawanda, New York farmers market. For decades, Moje has been bringing his crops to the same market. Photo by Sharif Hamdy
It was 1918 when Elmer Moje first took crops to market with his father on a horse and wagon in North Tonawanda, New York. Moje, who turns 99 later this month, still takes his crops to the market once or twice a week.
“I don’t have the wagon or the horse anymore,” he says with a laugh. “Back then it was all done by hand. My father never owned a tractor, he only had horses. Now everything is done by tractor.” Read more »