Ruminations at farmers’ markets with local vendors
Farmers’ markets carry locally grown food, creating personal and mutually beneficial links between local farmers, buyers and communities. Unlike the big food companies that dominate modern food production and create a division between consumers and their food, farmers’ markets and their collectivist minds help rebuild local and regional food networks, facilitating a appreciation for the origins and stories of whole ingredients.
The Davis Square Farmers Market, which serves as an option for locally grown produce from nearby members of the Tufts community, is open Wednesdays in Davis Square. The market manager, BJ Daniel, and the Deputy Market Manager and Electronic Benefits Transfer Coordinator, Lizzie mccarty, shared their views on the importance of farmers’ markets.
“You see the seasons because they are right in front of you, with fresh local products, vegetables, fruits, right there”, Daniel said. “You see it, you feel it … your senses are alive with it – it’s right there. “
When customers buy products from smallholder farmers, they establish a more personal connection between themselves and those who grow their food. McCarty explained how talking with farmers provides insight into the seasons, land and the origins of food.
“You can interact with the people who actually made what you’re buying. So if you have a question about fruits or vegetables, you can ask the farmer who harvested [it]”McCarty said.” Lots of idea sharing here: different recipes shared, different deals across the market, which is really fun. [Daniel] started putting honey in her coffee because the coffee vendor told her to. Life changer.
Siara, who sells products from the certified organic Langwater Farm in Easton, Mass. at Davis Square Farmers Market, pointed out advantages to buy at farmers’ markets.
“Buying from local farms guarantees quality” Siara noted. “It comes from the fields to the market. Much has been harvested this morning.
Siara also explained how Langwater Farm’s values are community driven.
“[Our] the motto is that we bring products to people ”, Siara noted.
Farmer’s Market veteran, Peggy Corbett of Peg’s Preserves in Lancaster, Mass., has been making jelly since the age of six and selling jellies for 40 years. While selling at the Medford Farmers Market, Corbett explained the community importance of buying from farmers’ markets as a way to support both small businesses and local farming efforts.
“[Farmers markets] are really important to the community because they bring in local food items that are not being shipped or bused or aired across the country, ”Corbett said. “These are community products brought to the community at affordable prices.”
Farmers’ markets support the economic viability of small farms by shortening the supply chain. In other words, they reduce the number of middlemen or middlemen, giving farmers a larger share of the consumer dollar and helping them earn higher incomes for a given crop compared to wholesaling.
In grocery chains, industrialized products from buyers are shipped an average of 1,500 miles from where they were grown, with monoculture farming operations eroding soil, using fertilizers and exploiting labor. farmers. Grocery stores often prioritize maximum efficiency for the individual shopper, and consumers have lost touch with the sources of their food – many have no idea where their food comes from.
According to Corbett, knowing the sources of the foods we eat should start at an early age. She stressed the importance of educating young people on sustainable farming practices.
“I believe in food at the table. I grow almost all the food to make my product. It is important to teach children to know what you eat, to grow your own food and to survive off the land ”, Corbettaid.
Ron manso, fromHerman and Cherie’s Beezy Bees situated in Western Massachusetts, agree that farmers’ markets provide valuable sales opportunities for small businesses.
“[Farmers markets] help because we are small enough, and we are not able to break into the bigger markets with a significant product base because we are just not big enough to compete ”, Manso said at Davis Square Farmers Market.
Amy Morin, of Hi-Rise Bread Company in Cambridge, Mass., also made similar remarks.
“We’re able to get a lot of customers that we couldn’t get in our physical store due to different locations. We have several different farmers’ markets throughout the week, so we see a lot of different people ”, Morin noted. “We can thus reach out to the community and provide freshly baked bread, [with] no curators and also interact with the other lovely shops here. ”
Farmers’ markets not only support local farmers, but nationally, they also help diversify food systems. While incredibly fun for consumers, Farmers’ Markets, on a more serious note, act as resilience channels for large-scale agriculture. Buying at various scales has proven to be incredibly important during COVID-19.
Sean B. Cash, a Bergstrom Foundation pProfessor of Global Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, provided insight into the significant impact of farmers’ markets.
“What people like about farmers’ markets is that they are on a smaller scale – you can buy things directly from the farmer. I think we need things on a larger scale as well, but it’s a form of resilience for our food systems to support things on different scales, and not just to rely on the purchase. cucumbers at local Walmart and Target ”, Cash noted.
Cash highlighted how farmers can benefit economically from farmers’ markets. According to him, farmers’ markets are a way for producers to diversify their income, even if they participate in farming on a larger scale.
“They can often get a higher return on certain things at certain times of the year by selling directly to consumers at farmers’ markets or through other places, although they also get a significant share of the income elsewhere,” Cash noted.
Plus, when food is grown, processed, and sold in the same region, more money stays in the local economy. Unlike buying items from chain grocery stores, where a large percentage of sales leave the community, and even the state, buying from farmers’ markets keeps money flowing within the community. local. Case studies from Civic Economics show that for every dollar we spend in a large chain, around 15 cents stays in the area, while local businesses keep 30 to 45 cents in the area.
Cash also noted how the use of different scales of food production is necessary for resilience, especially in preparation for when food systems fail, like during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[With] something like COVID-19, where we’ve had so many changes, if we don’t have different structures and different ways of accessing food, then when there is a disruption in the things we rely on the most, we have even fewer options ”, Cash noted. “Farmers’ markets are a way of [ensuring access to different food sources by] by keeping several channels in play.
Some farmers’ markets have experienced their strongest sales ever recorded in 2020. During the pandemic, wealthy shoppers increased their local food consumption. Surveys and media reports have also shown positive trends in the number of food insecure people shopping at farmers’ markets. A Farmers Market Coalition survey found that in the summer of 2020, more than 40% of farmers’ markets experienced an increase in payments using the benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program compared to 2019. Particularly during the pandemic, farmers’ markets have become important tools to reduce food insecurity.
In addition to their positive impacts on the community, it is important to note how many consumers and farmers’ market managers tend to adapt to demographics of being white, female, wealthy and highly educated. This is true even for neighborhoods that are not predominantly white. Even when federal food aid is extended, most buyers are still white. This predominantly white population in consumption and market leadership of farmers has been shown to attract potential landlords and tenants who wish to live in sustainable neighborhoods, which increases competition in the housing market and can contribute to green gentrification. and the displacement of low-income households of color. in urban areas. So there are many calls for farmers markets open up in historically marginalized communities, particularly low-income communities and communities of color, with targeted efforts to engage communities of color as sellers and buyers. The aim of these proposed markets is to increase representation, benefiting both consumers and producers.
“Sometimes there are great gains to be had by having certain things [produced] locally, ”Cash said. “But I think the biggest gains are often in supporting food production at different scales and having that connection to where the food is grown, who grew it, and the ability to try different things that could. be region specific, important to your local history local culture… and just enjoy the fun of what is local.