Celebrate National Farmers Market Week
The week of August 7-13 is proclaimed National Farmers Market Week.
This year, August 7-13 will mark the 17th annual National Farmers Market Week. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently signed a proclamation that set aside this week as a time to celebrate the contributions farmers markets have on the economic, social and environmental health of local communities.
There are many ways for you to get involved in this promotion, first and foremost is getting out and visiting your local farmers market. The Michigan Farmers Market Association has an interactive map which shows the locations, dates and times of more than 300 farmers markets from around the state. With that many choices, there is bound to be a market day and time that fits your schedule.
Across the country, farmers markets have become a place for not only purchasing local food direct from producers but also a place for building community. Farmers markets are often seen as places where people gather and can bring added economic and social benefits to communities. A 2011 Economic Research Service Report showed that fruit and vegetable farms selling into local and regional markets employ 13 full-time workers per $1 million in revenue earned. Comparatively, farms that are not selling locally employed only three people per million in revenue.
Additionally, many reports have shown that farmers markets have an additional economic impact on nearby businesses as visitors spend money beyond the farmers market borders. Farmers markets also serve as a low-barrier access point for food entrepreneurs who are developing new value-added food products.
Farmers markets have benefits beyond economic. By helping support local small and medium sized farms, markets help ensure important local farmland stays in production. Many markets also drive key social change by providing low-income communities access to fresh local food through nutrition incentive programs like SNAP and Double-up Food Bucks.
Overall, farmers markets are a key piece in creating healthy communities built on economic, environmental and social sustainability. If you are looking for ways to celebrate National Farmers Market Week, visit the Farmers Market Coalition’s website with several resources for promoting and participating.
If you are looking for more information about farmers markets operating in your area, or are looking to start one of you own, contact your local Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems Educator.