According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 1,000 farmers’ markets have opened up across the country within the past year, increasing by 17% since 2010. This doesn’t surprise me at all, since 2 have popped up in my area in the last year alone. There are currently 7,175 farmer’s markets across the country.
The growth of farmers’ markets is most significant in states where they were not really popular before, with Texas and Alaska reporting the highest increases. It’s not just a way to make money, but a great marketing tool for young farmers and a way to get their name and products out there locally.
Location and diversity are two of the biggest factors that make or break a farmers’ market. Markets located in a place that is easy to get to do exceptionally well, especially if locals can walk or ride their bike there in the morning. Aside from location, if markets have diverse products such as jellies, baked goods, and hard-to-find herbs and spices rather than just cucumbers and tomatoes, they should experience plenty of success and growth.
Farmers’ markets are also turning into a local hangout where friends run into each other, families get together, and artists bring in crafts or musical performances as a way to entertain visitors. It’s becoming more of just a place to buy vegetables, and into a cultural, localized event where visitors can buy local and organic goods, spend time with friends and family and support independent workers in their community.
I visit my local farmers’ market on the regular and in one trip I’ve purchased ingredients for guacamole, red pepper soup, and fried rice for less than $20. Good deal, I’d say.
Grab your friends, grab a few reusable shopping bags and head to the farmers’ market to swap recipe ideas and find some delicious local goodies. Not sure if there’s a market near you? Search the directory on the USDA Farmer’s Market website to find one in your neighborhood.