With its ‘Markets Are Up!’ campaign, the Farmers Market Coalition is helping members and nonmembers alike spotlight how farmers markets benefit communities.
The local growers who stock your neighborhood farmers market with fresh fruits and vegetables know all about planting, cultivating, and harvesting produce. They’re not exactly masters of business. That’s where the Farmers Market Coalition comes in.
“Most markets are run by volunteers or part-time employees, and they may not have the skills in business and recording or marketing that are required of this type of job, so we think of ourselves as their support network,” said FMC Executive Director Jen O’Brien. “Our ‘Markets Are Up!’ campaign has a couple of different components to help them this week and throughout the year.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has proclaimed August 4-10 National Farmers Market Week. In its 14th year, NFMW was first introduced as a way to raise awareness about the benefits farmers markets bring to their local communities.
FMC, which represents about 700 markets and 3,500 producers, provides members and nonmembers with a variety of resources to help them promote the week in their communities—everything from sample press releases to invitations to local legislators to visit their market to talking points with data about the benefits of farmers markets.
“We talk about how markets are preserving America’s farmlands and rural livelihoods, how they’re stimulating local economies, increasing access to fresh and nutritious food, and supporting healthy communities,” O’Brien said. “We compile everything we’ve been hearing over the past year or two about those issues—sometimes it’s data, sometimes it’s just quotes from farmers or observations that we’ve seen—just to provide the market managers or anyone interested in farmers markets with some background information.”
This year’s Farmers Market Week comes at a time when news has surfaced about a cyclospora outbreak, possibly as a result of tainted salad mixes that came from Mexico and were served in Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska.
“One of the main points that we’re always making is that you should know where your food comes from,” O’Brien said. “Those types of outbreaks happen in large plants because they’re harder to monitor. When you can talk directly to a farmer and learn how their food was grown, you’re helping the safety of yourself, your family, and your community.”
O’Brien said the week is all about highlighting the impact that farmers markets can have in a community.
“Markets are growing continually and they’re creating jobs and feeding people healthy food,” she said, “so we think Farmers Market Week is … a celebration of that.”