Four Benefits of Supporting Your Local Farmer’s Market
The term “local farmer’s market”, often brings to mind pop up tents full of fresh vegetables and healthy food selections from local farms. When you visit your local farmer’s market, what you see is only a component in the overall benefit of having a community market. Community support at a local farmer’s market has a deeper, often overlooked, impact on the community. Below are 4 ways that you support your community when you shop from local producers.
1. Job Creation and Economic Impact
When you purchase locally grown food from the farmer’s market, your dollars allow small businesses to create jobs in the community. Many farmers work their own booths. However, many hire additional employees to assist customers with sales, or tend to farm duties while at market. A market encourages entrepreneurship because it provides a low overhead point of sale with a built-in customer base.
Patronage from the community puts money right back into the community. A small community farmer’s market can generate $30,000 to $60,000 in combined vendor sales over a season. Some larger markets do that much or more in a single market day. Get to know the vendors at your market! You will find that many live in the same community or surrounding area.
2. You Strengthen a Changing Profession
The farming landscape as we know it is changing – from the types of food being produced to those choosing to make farming their profession. According to a recent report from the Washington Post, there’s new growth and appeal in farming:
For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Census of Agriculture. Sixty-nine percent of the surveyed young farmers had college degrees — significantly higher than the general population.
Supporting these growing smaller farms help to support food diversity at your farmer’s market. Most all farmers grow market staples and essentials. However, smaller farms are more flexible to farm small batches of more non-traditional produce, such as kohlrabi and varieties mushrooms.
3. It Helps to Restrict Over-development and Preserves Farm Land
Each year, a farmer has a lot to worry about – too much rain, too little rain, bugs and crop diseases, gas and diesel prices, and…taxes. Taxes on farmland can be a huge burden on the farmer, especially in booming real estate towns. A farmer needs to not only be able to cover farming expenses, but to be able to make a living and provide for his or her family. Each dollar spent at a farmer’s market helps to keep land out of the developer’s hands and keeps our nation’s shrinking farm lands in food production.
According to farmland.org, over 40 acres of US farm land are developed every hour; 24 million acres of land has been developed since 1982; 37% of America’s developed land, has been converted within the last three decades. Simply choosing to purchase your food at the local farmer’s market instead of a big box retailer, helps to preserve much needed farm land in your own community.
4. You Contribute to Community Fellowship
Your local market is a community gathering place. You see familiar faces and have the chance to make new friends. You have the opportunity to talk with the person that grew or produced your food. Farmers are typically eager to give you their favorite recipe or advice on cooking. Some markets have games and contests for the kids, special market themes each week, live music, vendor samples and even pet treats. Market Managers strive to make a farmer’s market a viable resource for food, but also to make it a true community gathering place with fun experiences for the whole family.