According to the USDA, there are more than 8,100 registered farmers markets in the United States–an estimate that is steadily growing each year (Farmers Market Directory, 2013). My student Anne Roybal, found that undercounted markets in Wisconsin, but the point is simple, no matter how many markets, we know that markets connect producers and consumers and serve communities in various ways. Farmers markets contribute to economic activity, farm incomes, small business, the local food agenda as well as national efforts to “strengthen local and regional food systems,” (Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food). Farmers and other vendors help keep the community informed and serve as a place to see and be seen, for neighbors to meet, for arts and crafts, for knowledge about food, health and other services in the community.
Farmers markets serve many purposes for many types of people. Markets are multi-functional and benefit many stakeholders. They are one among many strategies farmers use to make a living. Local markets enhance the local economy. For example, more than 30 percent of shoppers at the Crescent City Farmers Market reported additional spending at nearby establishments as a result of their market visit. Markets also host various programs and activities such as cooking classes, arts and crafts fairs, and the like. Markets have always served as community gathering places.
I’m your lead blogger, Alfonso Morales, PhD, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. I, my students, and staff will be using this forum to support market managers we work with in the U.S. and Canada, we will also celebrate your successes.