Why Your Town Needs a Farmers Market

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Does your town have a farmers market?

If not, you might miss out on healthy fresh produce and social connections. Farmers may fail to engage in the local economy.

To celebrate the Farmers Market Coalition’s National Farmers Market Week on Aug. 4-10, 2019, we at Salud America! are showcasing the benefits of farmers markets as a way to increase access to fruits and vegetables among Latino and all people!

Farmers Markets Can Help Latinos

Latinos frequently live in food swamps.

In these swamps, Latinos have no easy access to supermarkets and farmers’ markets, while abundant access to fast food and corner stores. This results in overconsumption of unhealthy foods, according to a Salud America! research review.

farmers market infographicThe number of U.S. farmers’ markets has more than doubled in the past 20 years, from 2,863 in 2000 to 8,768 in 2019, according to a USDA database.

But many of these markets are not accessible to Latinos. In fact, a San Diego State University report indicates that 44% of the city’s farmers markets are in census tracts with high levels of gentrification.

This is a big missed opportunity to improve Latinos’ health.

Latinos report a willingness to support farmers’ markets introduced into their neighborhoods.

For example, the presence of a farmer’s market was linked to greater consumption of fruits and vegetables among immigrant women in New York City.

Farmers Benefit, Too!

Having a farmers market can help the farming industry, according to the Farmers Market Association.

Farmer's Market Week 2019 - 3Here are some ways:

  • Growers who sell at farmers market create 13 full-time jobs per $1 million in revenue.
  • Preserve farmland. The U.S. loses an acre of farmland a minute to development.
  • New farmers get their start at farmers markets. 43% have been farming for less than 10 years. This can replace the aging farmer population.
  • Farms are more likely to survive if direct-to-consumer sales are part of their business plan.
  • 37% of young farmers say the highest proportion of their sales from farmers markets.

“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming a healthy, prosperous food systems,” said Jen Cheek, leader of the Farmers Market Coalition.

“By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Vendors are teaching customers about agriculture and sharing recipes and new foods with their neighbors. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier.”

Making Farmers Markets Better

Farmers markets that enable greater purchasing power for fruits and vegetables also can increase spending on fresh produce.

Farmer's Market Week 2019 - 2Last year, farmers markets redeemed $24 million in SNAP benefits. That means more revenue for local farmers and more fresh food access for families.

Also, 60% of farmers market customers in low-income neighborhoods say their farmers market had better prices than their grocery store.

Kaely Summers is squeezing even more benefits from farmers markets.

Summers is the manager of Adelante Mujeres’ Forest Grove Farmers Market in Oregon. Summers saw that kids were a little bored when they came to the market with their parents.

So Summers and other market leaders teamed up to create the bilingual Market Sprouts Kid Club. The club uses fun activities to teach Latino kids and all kids about farming, fresh produce and healthy eating at the market.

“For [kids] to get engaged in eating healthier, we wanted to make sure that everything we were doing is fun,” Summers said.

How Can You Get involved?

Check this awesome map to see if there’s a farmers market near you.

Yes? Visit it. See what fruits and vegetables you can find.

No? Think about starting one in your own neighborhood.

You can be like San Antonio teacher Michelle Griego.

Griego had no farmers market in her historic neighborhood, Dignowity Hill.

So she did some research, built community support, and filled out the paperwork to start her own market!

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