Guest post by Robert Connelly, Manager of Membership & Special Gifts at American Farmland Trust
I haven’t always been a farmers marketeer.
Growing up in North Carolina my family never really went to the farmers market.
In fact, I remember as a kid thinking it was kind of odd that our neighbors, The Andersons, went every Saturday morning.
Looking back, I realize that the Anderson family was on to something amazing.
Over the last eight years, interest in local food and farmers markets has grown. According to USDA, consumers have more opportunities than ever to purchase food directly from farmers -- with 8,268 farmers markets operating nationwide in 2014 – up 180 percent since 2006.
And, the interest is driven by us – the consumer! Our communities’ interest in farmers markets is a direct result of our growing concern for local family farmers, the environment, access to healthy foods, and our local economy. I’ve been trying to coin the phrase “Keep it local-tastic!” around AFT’s national office.
Here are three reasons why supporting your local farmers market can be one of the best choices you make for yourself and your community.
Your family farmers stay in business: Family farmers selling at farmers markets have almost a 10 percent greater chance at staying in business when compared to those just selling through traditional channels.
Your community grows: Businesses near farmers markets report higher sales on market days – supporting the local economy and generating extra tax revenue in the community. That’s money often re-invested back into the businesses and community.
More cash money in your pocket: In a recent report by USDA, farmers market shoppers save on average nearly 25 percent on food annually – when compared to shopping at grocery stores. This means more money in your pocket to go buy those shoes you’ve been eyeing, or finally spring for that Apple Watch. (One can dream.)
If these sound appealing to you, head over to our national Farmers Market Celebration, happening at markets.farmland.org. Find a farmers market near you, endorse it as one of your favorites, and tell us why it’s special to you and your community. At the end of the summer, we’ll give away awards to the best of America’s farmers markets. I look forward to seeing what makes your farmers market notable.
As always, keep it local-tastic!