Guest Blog: Celebrate National Farmers Market Week! — August 5-11
August 1st, 2012
We want to thank Stacy Miller from NSAC member Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) for her contribution. Stacy is Executive Director of FMC, and will be transitioning to the role of Project Director with the expected arrival of her first child later this month. FMC works to strengthen farmers markets for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and communities.
On July 13, 2012, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack proclaimed August 5th to the 11th, 2012 as National Farmers Market Week. This marks the thirteenth year that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proclaimed a National Farmers Market Week.
All across the country next week, non-profit organizations, USDA agencies, farmers, and consumers will be celebrating farmers markets and the people who make them possible.
Farmers markets are a critical hub of any local food system, bolstering regional economies, increasing access to nutritious foods, and bringing communities together through a shared public space.
In 2011, farmers markets redeemed more than $11.7 million in SNAP benefits, a 52% increase in one year.
If you haven’t visited one of the nation’s more than 7,500 farmers markets this season, National Farmers Market Week is a great time to start!
Markets around the country have geared up in celebration for the week, scheduling classes and demonstrations on gardening, cooking, and a variety of other topics designed to teach skills and increase awareness of sustainable living. In June 2012 alone, 30 FMC member markets hosted canning workshops for more than 10,000 members of their communities, with even more events planned in August.
Farmers markets are unique in their ability to bridge urban and rural divides and yield economic and health benefits to all areas of the country. Did you know, for instance, that the seven Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance (NFMA) markets in Seattle support 9,491 acres of farmland in diversified production? “This represents a four-fold increase in the last ten years,” says NFMA Executive Director Chris Curtis.
The 52 producers of the Williamsburg Farmers Market in Virginia generated an estimated $48,969.84 in state sales tax in 2011, supporting the state economy. Shoppers at the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans annually spend $3.2 million at neighboring businesses, which contributes $151,621 to sales tax revenue.
A 2011 Economic Research Service report found that fruit and vegetable farms selling into local and regional markets employ 13 full-time workers per $1 million in revenue earned (totaling 61,000 jobs in 2008). Comparatively, fruit and vegetable farms not selling locally employed only three full-time workers per $1 million in revenue.
“Farmers markets are the ultimate green sector of the economy,” says Bernadine Prince, President of the Farmers Market Coalition. “They are stand-out successes in and spurring sustainable economic development. During Farmers Market Week, FMC encourages everyone to spend at least $10 at a local farmers market, and celebrate the power of farmers markets to incubate entrepreneurship and nourish both rural and urban economies.”
The Farmers Market Coalition, as a proud NSAC member group, has developed talking points, a farmers market FAQ, social media cheat sheet, and seven day-by-day press releases on their website to help farmers, market managers, consumers and non-profit organizations celebrate and promote National Farmers Market Week. You can download these resources on FMC’s Markets Are Up Campaign webpage .
Below are the “Seven Days, Seven Ways” themes, with on-the-ground examples of innovation and statistics of success from FMC members.
● Sunday, August 5th: Farmers markets and community education
Innovative partnerships that allow markets to serve as hubs of information
● Monday, August 6th: Farmers markets and public health
Promoting good nutrition and healthful habits
● Tuesday, August 7th : Farmers markets as economic engines
Business incubation, job development, and local spending
● Wednesday, August 8th: Farmers at the center of the system
Governance and policies that put farmers first
● Thursday, August 9th: Farmers markets and food equity
Improving access to healthful foods in underserved neighborhoods
● Friday, August 10th: Farmers markets and civic engagement
Growing social capital and engaging volunteers
● Saturday, August 11th: Farmers markets and rural renewal
Supporting agricultural diversity and farm viability while inspiring a new generation of producers
As a new addition to Farmers Market Week fun this year, FMC is also hosting the Farmers Market Inspiration Award, an essay contest designed to give farmers at markets an opportunity to tell the stories of why they love farmers markets. The grand prize award is $1,000, with a submission deadline of August 11th, the last day of Farmers Market Week.
As a member of NSAC, the Farmers Market Coalition works alongside other member organizations to advocate for support of farmers markets and direct marketing opportunities for agricultural producers. Participating in NSAC’s Marketing, Food System and Rural Development Committee and Food System Integrity Committee maximizes FMC’s effectiveness as a leading advocate for federal programs that are critical to the continued success of farmers markets, including the Farmers Market Promotion Program, Farmers Market Nutrition Programs, and efforts designed to increase SNAP participant access to locally grown farm products.
We’ll be enjoying our local farmers markets next week, and we hope you will too!