What is a Farmers' Market?
What is a Farmers' Market?
A Farmers’ Market is a physical retail marketplace intended to sell foods directly by farmers to consumers. Farmers’ markets may be indoors or outdoors and typically consisting of booths, tables or stands where farmers sell their produce, live animals and plants, and sometimes prepared foods and beverages. Farmers’ markets exist in many countries worldwide and reflect the local culture and economy.
What are the Benefits of a Farmers' Market?
Farmers’ markets can offer farmers increased profit over selling to wholesalers, food processors, or large grocery firms. By selling directly to consumers, produce often needs less transport, less handling, less refrigeration and less time in storage.
By selling in an outdoor market, the cost of land, buildings, lighting and air-conditioning is also reduced or eliminated. Farmers may also retain profit on produce not sold to consumers, by selling the excess to canneries and other food-processing firms.
At the market, farmers can retain the full premium for part of their produce, instead of only a processor’s wholesale price for the entire lot.
Among the benefits often touted for communities with farmers’ markets:
- Farmers’ markets help maintain important social ties, linking rural and urban populations and even close neighbors in mutually rewarding exchange.
- market traffic generates traffic for nearby businesses
- buying at markets encourages attention to the surrounding area and ongoing activities
- by providing outlets for ‘local’ products, farmers’ markets help create distinction and uniqueness, which can increase pride and encourage visitors to return.
Reduced transport, storage, and refrigeration can benefit communities too:
- lower transport & refrigeration energy costs
- lower transport pollution
- lower transport infrastructure cost (roads, bridges, etc.)
- less land dedicated to food storage.
Farmers’ markets may also contribute to innovative distribution means that strengthen civic engagement by reducing the social distances between urban and rural communities. With fewer intermediaries, the support of independent growers by local community members can enhance local economic opportunities and health & wellness in poor communities.
Some consumers may favor farmers’ markets for the perceived:
- reduced overhead: driving, parking, etc.
- fresher foods
- seasonal foods
- healthier foods
- a better variety of foods, e.g.: organic foods, pasture-raised meats, free-range eggs and poultry, handmade farmstead cheeses, heirloom produce heritage breeds of meat and many less transport-immune cultivars disfavored by large grocers
- a place to meet neighbors, chat, etc.
- a place to enjoy an outdoor walk while getting needed groceries
Evidence seems to show that overall prices at a typical farmers’ market are lower than prices at a supermarket because the process of production is more concise; there is less distance to travel and fewer middlemen.
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