July 27th, 2012 | simcha | No Comments »
The week beginning Sunday, August 5th is National Farmers Market Week, designed to further awareness of farmers in American and their contribution to our lives. Farmers markets have seen a steady increase since 1994. In 2011, the USDA counted 7,173 farmers markets, a 17 percent increase from 2010. The Farmers Market Coalition says that as recently as 2005, farmers market direct-to- consumer sales were already exceeding $1 billion nationwide.
In 1994, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began publishing the National Directory of Farmers Markets which list farmers markets known to operate in the U.S. As of 2008, USDA currently does a comprehensive update every year. The graph below shows the number of markets at each update.
No longer are farmers markets just a weekend shopping diversion, often described as a “cute little niche in the food chain where you could find heirloom tomatoes and fresh corn”. These days farmers markets are pretty well grown up and taken quite seriously in their communities, becoming a very important part of the way people shop and eat.
Many communities across North America are reporting what’s called “the spillover effect” of farmers markets. Communities are finding that on days when the farmers markets are open, other local businesses tend to do better, particularly other food stores. This is something that European Markets have understood and experienced for years. In many towns across Europe much of the food shopping experience resembles a farmers market type atmosphere, where you’ll get your bread from one vendor, meats from another, and so on. It’s great to see not only that this type of commerce is catching on here, but that it is being celebrated as well. Support your local growers and celebrate National Farmers Market Week.