Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Farmers' Market Week!

Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary of Agriculture, has declared August 3 – 9 2014 National Farmers Market Week.  This has been a tradition for the past 15 years, in hopes of bringing attention to Farmers’ Markets across the nation.  Apparently it’s working, as the number of markets increases each year.  Currently, there are over 8,100 in the USDA directory. The constant increase indicates a commitment to vibrant local food systems throughout America.

“Secretary Vilsack has identified strengthening local food systems as one of the four pillars of USDA's commitment to rural economic development, along with production agriculture (including expanding export markets and improving research), promoting conservation and outdoor recreation opportunities, and growing the bio-based economy.” (USDA News Release No. 0153.14)

-image American Farmland Trust

Since it is Farmers’ Market week, let’s look at some of the positives that markets offer the vendors, the customers and the community.

Farmers’ Markets can be a great way for small operations to get their feet wet, offering a “business incubator” where new producers can experiment, learn and grow their enterprises. Our market even hires local musical talent as weekly entertainment.  This exposure has acted as a springboard for some acts to gain a much greater audience.

Farmers’ Markets offer a place where producers can retain more of each dollar, allowing more farmers to continue to be profitable. This keeps our precious farmland from becoming developed.

Farmers’ Markets provide consumers with high quality, fresh, local produce and other farm products in an atmosphere conducive to dealing directly with the farmers. It's also a great place for socializing.

By keeping farm products and shopping local, the community realizes more tax revenue and many downtowns have become revitalized as a direct result of the local Farmers’ Market.

...and Farmers' Markets are not just for the "well-to-do" many markets participate in the SNAP program as well as WIC and the Senior Nutrition Program making fresh farm products available to those who may have once found the Market inaccessible. That isn't all, either.  Excess produce is often donated to food pantries, lunch programs and the local mission.

The USDA agrees with me.  Look at this cool infographic.

-image USDA

To my mind, a Farmers’ Market is a win-Win-WIN-WIN-WIN solution.  

See you there!

**I'll be posting something about Farmers' Markets every day this week.  I hope you'll check back regularly.  ...and if you have any questions specific to Farmers' Markets, please let me know.  I'll be glad to answer them or find someone who can.**

1 comment:

  1. I so enjoy your photograph showing the full stall Barbara - and the empty stall at the end of the day!