Farmers Markets growing more than food

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Growing Community

They are more than just a local place to shop. They help grow the local economy and bring neighbors together.

Farmers markets exist worldwide and reflect their local culture and economy. Their sizes range from a few booths in a small area to several city blocks long. The attraction is that, typically, all products sold there have been grown and/or made by the farmers and local vendors who are selling them. But not only are these markets selling local goods, they can help sell a community as well.With consumers becoming more concerned with locally produced fresh food, access to a farmers market in their area can possibly influence their home-buying decision.

Demand Is Growing

In response to increased demand and popularity, cities all across the country are establishing farmers markets. The USDA reported that the number of farmers markets in the United States increased by 68 percent over the last 15 years.

So what is the attraction? Farmers markets feature local food items grown responsibly. Fruits and vegetables that are often grown organically, meat from animals that are pasture-fed and raised humanely, handmade cheeses, eggs and poultry from free-roaming hens, as well as heirloom produce. Some markets also feature nonfood products such as fresh flowers or handmade quilts, clothing and toys – all handcrafted by locals.

Building Community (and Value)

When consumers shop locally, the money they spend stays in the community. When locals make more money at the market, they in turn have more money to return to the community. It is a win-win for all. But the locals aren’t the only people shopping at farmers markets. Many tourists make sure to include the local farmers market on their list of things to do while visiting a new city.

Some of the top farmers markets in the United States are: 

Boulder Farmers Market, Boulder, Colo.
Beyond the traditional market items, this market has wine, jewelry, pottery and so much more.

Burlington Farmers Market, Burlington, Vt.
Known for its New England vibe, shoppers can enjoy everything from fresh produce to Vermont maple syrup to fresh pastries.

Santa Monica Farmers Market, Santa Monica, Calif.
This market is hopping on more than just Saturday. Shoppers can come taste and buy on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. A large market, this one has more than 75 vendors selling anything from local produce to local restaurant fare. Among the many visitors you can find are Los Angeles-area chefs who come weekly for their menu items.

Union Square Greenmarket, New York, N.Y.
Here there is more than shopping. The market hosts live cooking demonstrations by famous local chefs.

Pike Place Market, Seattle, Wash.
One of the nation's most popular, this market has approximately 80 vendors. Some of the local specialties here include local mushrooms and huckleberries, as well as beeswax candles and lavender lotions.

Other popular markets include:

Charleston Farmers Market, Charleston, S.C.

Dane County Farmers Market, Madison, Wis.

Portland Farmers Market, Portland, Ore.

Sweet Auburn Curb Market, Atlanta, Ga.

Green City Market, Chicago, Ill.

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, San Francisco, Calif.

Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, Santa Fe, N.M.

Tell us about your favorite farmers market in your city!