Every August we celebrate National Farmers Market Week, and all the folks that make our farmers markets possible: the farmers, the bakers, the food makers. We also have to applaud you - the supporters of the farmers markets - your dedication to shopping in rain storms and heat waves is commendable. We can't thank you enough!
Yes, it can be easier to shop at the mega-grocery stores, but for true farmers market supporters, there are far more important reasons other than ease of shopping. Consider the reasons folks give for shopping at the farmers market:
- Freshest produce available - much of the produce which comes to the markets has been picked the morning of the market. Produce this fresh is at its peak flavor and has superior nutritional value.
- Focus on Local - Locavorism. Both the Downingtown and Malvern Farmers Markets feature producers from within a 35 mile radius of the market.
- Healthy eating - sure you can buy "special treats" at the market, but the overwhelming focus is on healthy fruits and veggies, meats, cheeses, breads and the like.
- Eating seasonally - many market shoppers love the parade of produce from spring to summer, fall into winter; savoring foods in season.
- Creating a demand for diversity and resiliency in our local food system by supporting the local farmers and producers who are consistent with non-GMO farming and production methods.
- Demanding organically grown produce and prepared foods; as well as meats an poultry raised respectfully without supplementation with hormones and antibiotics.
- Supporting the creation of small business opportunities for local producers.
- Knowing where your food comes from by developing relationships with the farmers and food producers.
But farmers market are more than just a source for food - there are complimentary benefits. Successful farmers markets become anchors for a vibrant community - providing a weekly meeting venue for residents, a common ground, a platform to exchange ideas and shared initiatives.
Establishment of a farmers market in a community is a great way to focus attention on the downtown area. Communities in economic recovery can benefit greatly from a farmers market. Studies have shown that community based farmers markets have a very positive impact on the economic stability and growth of that community. Research indicates farmers market shoppers not only shop at the farmers market, but also support other local merchants - a dry cleaner, pharmacy, gift shop and the like. This economic benefit of a farmers market was the determining factor when considering establishing markets in both Malvern and Downingtown.
We hope you'll help us celebrate National Farmers Market Week this week. Invite your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to the market this week - share with them why you like to shop at the market, introduce them to your favorite members. And by all means - wish all of the vendors a happy national farmers market week!