Our farmers markets are in danger. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, 74 percent of farmers markets surveyed indicated they have lower income and 93 percent reported higher operating costs, according to a survey by the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC). As a result, FMC executive director Ben Feldman predicts a large number of farmers markets across the U.S. will go out of business in 2020.
Farmers markets are often a community’s largest and most diverse access point to the local food system. In light of National Farmers Week (which took place August 2 – 8), we wanted to paint a picture of what a world might look like without farmers markets:
- Farmers markets create distribution efficiencies for community scale operations, connecting tens of thousands of customers with hundreds of local vendors. They act as a business incubator for new farmers and food artisans, which heavily contribute to local economic development.
- In 2019, farmers and ranchers at Boulder County Farmers Markets collectively sold over 5 million dollars in locally grown products, 350,000 dollars of which went to low income residents via SNAP and WIC programs.
- BCFM’s markets recorded 350,000 visits in 2019. Each one of these visits strengthens the bond between vendors and the community they serve. Each of these visits strengthens local farms, the local food system and local economies. An average two-thirds of every dollar (67 cents) spent at small businesses in the U.S. stays in the local community, and every dollar spent at small businesses creates an additional 50 cents in local business activity as a result of employee spending and businesses purchasing local goods and services.
- Without markets, we will depend even more on an anonymous industrial food system with fewer choices and less access to high-quality nutritious products. In the event of emergencies like we’ve seen this year, traditional grocery stores could have barren shelves.
A world without farmers markets is a stark world. To show your support for your favorite markets and your favorite vendors, consider (safely) visiting a market throughout the holiday week or ordering through many markets’ curbside pickup options.
Boulder County Farmers Markets are back up and running in Boulder, Longmont and Denver. Boulder’s Saturday market is operating from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Boulder’s Wednesday night market is operating from 4 – 8 p.m. Longmont’s Saturday market is operating from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., and Denver’s Saturday market is operating from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Walkups are welcome and reservations are available on our website. BCFM also offers curbside pick up in Longmont, Lafayette, Denver and Boulder. Pick up is safe, quick and contactless. More details can be found here.
Photo by Erik Scheel.