Yep, we go to the farmers market because you can meet your farmers face to face and buy straight from the hands that produced your food. There a ‘feel good’ about really knowing where your food comes from. That ‘feel good’ is so motivating to buy that the marketing masters have evoked the name, farmers market, but left the real-deal farmers behind.
This ‘feel good’ marketing that is driving misconceptions for shoppers can be in the shape of using the word, farmers, in the name of the market or store, through taglines, graphics and signage, and even mock displays with baskets and crates. But where are the actual producers of the food? Isn’t that what you wanted in the first place?
Start looking for producer-only farmers markets. This is where the mission and operation honestly and honorably represents the farmers to others, including staff, volunteers, community, shoppers and the producers of your food. This will be reflected in the farmers market’s thoughtfully crafted guidelines and written into the application process and includes farm visits for verification.
But more importantly and seeped in the reality of week to week operations, a real deal farmers market will be reflected in:
- positive and lasting relationships with vendors and shoppers.
- increased quality of produce and product because it is just picked, made or produced.
- consumer education on seasonal products, cooking, nutrition and homestead skills.
- strong and consistent management that is networked within the local food arena and agriculture.
- an understanding of the precious value a farmers market is for the farmers to have a place to sell and also for the customers’ expectation to know more about the food they are buying directly from the farms.
Year after year, the top farmers markets are those that are formed on the principal of being a direct market for farmers to sell what they grow, bakers to sell what they bake, beekeepers to sell the honey from their hives, ranchers to sell the meat and eggs that they have raised.
This has to be a community effort to protect the integrity and sustainability of their farmers market into the future. The process seems simple and straight forward, however there are many layers and players in constant struggle. This can only become clearer with basic trust between the market, the customers and the producers with joint goals to make the farmers market a viable and healthy place for all.
Feature photo is of Farmer Pops of Pure Land Organic
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