Farmers’ markets have become increasingly popular in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, fueled in part by consumer demand from its large urban and suburban population. They serve as a significant direct marketing channel for many farmers, especially small-scale producers, as they strive to remain competitive. They also provide an important place for community members to obtain fresh produce and to gather. Researchers at the Wallace Center focused on producer-only farmers’ markets–defined as those in which goods produced by farmers are sold directly to retail customers–because of their potential to provide profitable markets for small-scale farmers, as well as important benefits for their communities.
The report details the results of a survey of 43 producer-only farmers’ market managers in Maryland, southeastern Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. The study addresses market operations, market manager and vendor characteristics, community and farmer benefits, and challenges faced by the markets and their managers. The results indicate there is much to celebrate in the markets’ collective success, as well as existing and potential problems that markets and organizers need to address.
Dr. Jim Hanson, Extension Economist at the University of Maryland-College Park, and leader of the Small Farm Success Project, said that expanding the base of knowledge on producer-only farmers’ markets in the region is important to ensure their continuing success. “In today’s world of bigger businesses, identical chain stores in every mall, and products increasingly sourced from overseas, farmers’ markets are a refreshing change,” he noted. “The Wallace Center’s report provides valuable insights into the operations and the needs of producer-only markets in the Mid-Atlantic, which will help those of us working to enhance the survival of our local farms and the supply of fresh fruits and vegetables they produce.”
“Producer-Only Farmers’ Market in the Mid-Atlantic: A Survey of Market Managers” is available electronically at http://www.winrock.org/wallace. Printed reports are available from the Wallace Center, Winrock International, 1621 N. Kent Street, Suite 1200, Arlington, VA 22209-2134; 703.525.9430 ext. 675; email@example.com. Funding for the publication and supporting research was provided by the Small Farm Success Project, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) program.
The Henry A. Wallace Center for Agricultural & Environmental Policy at Winrock International uses its expertise in research, policy analysis, and development to foster sustainable and equitable agricultural and food systems. Winrock International is a nonprofit organization that works with people in the United States and around the world to increase economic opportunity, sustain natural resources, and protect the environment.
The Small Farm Success Project (http://www.smallfarmsuccess.info) is a collaborative effort among educators, researchers, and others affiliated with the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, Future Harvest-Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA), the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Henry A. Wallace Center for Agricultural & Environmental Policy at Winrock International, Accokeek Foundation, and The Pennsylvania State University.