On June 21st, the Farmers Market Coalition launched the Farmers Market Inspiration Award designed to reward and showcase the variety of ways farmers markets benefit communities across the United States, as told throughout the lens of those who grow and sell America’s freshest food.  This award is a partnership between the Farmers Market Coalition and Growing for Market, conducted in concert with the American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest.

For a grand prize of $1,000, farmers/producers at farmers markets from all corners of the nation submitted essays that depicted how has selling at farmers markets affected them, their farm, their family, and their community.   We asked for concise, imaginative, striking essays that reflect agricultural producers’ perspectives about the people, products, or partnerships that make selling at farmers markets valuable—and we got exactly what we asked for!

72 essays were submitted representing farmers market experiences from all over the country. We had so much fun reading all of the essays. Whether laughing out loud or tearing up we were so inspired by the stories of family, community, friends, and food that seem to follow farmers markets around.

So, drum roll please, for our 2012 Farmers Market Inspiration Award winners!

The 2012 Farmers Market Inspiration Award Grand Prize Winner:


Cory Mosser of Burge Organic Farm who sells at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market in Atlanta, Georgia! Congratulations, Cory! We were all so impressed and inspired by your essay.

“Saturday for me is the big payoff. It’s our chance after a week of talking to plants to be the center of a conversation…I get paid not only in dollars, but also in priceless vignettes that unfold every weekend right in front of me. Watching tomatoes I’ve battled into existence over months fly off the shelf. The emotional battery charge of smiling familiar faces. The kids that want to eat raw okra right from your booth. The knowing glance of a fellow farmer on a slow dog day in August…It has been nothing short of incredible to witness a community come into full bloom around local food.”

Read Any Given Saturday


Honorable Mention Winners:

Laura Frerichs of Loon Organics who sells at the Mill City Farmers Market

“This is an education in life that we do not get on the farm with just us, our employees, and 50 different vegetable crops.  This market experience is invaluable. It goes way beyond that 25% of gross sales.”
Read My Love Letter to the Mill City Farmers Market


Alice White of Bluebird Meadows who sells at the Durham Farmers Market

“Each week our market display is the culmination of weeks, months, and years of work and each week our community comes out and supports this work, taking home with them a living and real part of our lives.  We provide sustenance for our customers, our community, and they in turn provide the same for us.  This rhythmic reciprocation, this sharing of support, is in essence the pulse of our lives.”
Read For the Love of the Game


Denise Breeden-Ost of Getty’s Creek Farm who sells at the Bloomington Community Farmers Market

“What do neighbors do?  Sit on porches and talk about the weather? Borrow a cup of sugar?  We don’t sit much this time of year, and I’ve never borrowed sugar in my life–but I have borrowed rubber bands from Jeff and bags from Christine, and changed fives to ones for Pete.  You might think, being in the same business with the same customers, we’d see each other as competition.  But as Jeff told Sean years ago, “Other farmers aren’t what hurts us; it’s Kroger’s that hurts us.”  And besides, who would you rather stand beside for five hours every summer Saturday–a competitor, or a neighbor?”
Read Market Neighbors


Sarah Wertz of Rabbit Run Farm who sells as Prescott and Flagstaff Farmers Markets

“I know we are on the right track when one of my favorite customers, an elderly woman named Lola, comes to our booth each week and says loudly, “Oh! Ah!” and “Oh my goodness, you musta been up all night washing!  I don’t see a speck of dirt!  Mmm mmm!”  She turns to another customer and sells our produce with her praise.”
Read When Life Gives you Radishes… Keep Planting!


Lawrence Latane of Blenheim Organic Gardens who sells at the Williamsburg Farmers Market

“Can you tell me what’s so special about these beans?” asked the woman wearing one of those vests with lots of pockets that photographers used to wear.She was tall and slim and she coiled a leather check cord into a pocket as the two dogs with her settled their haunches at her heels.Immediately, three sets of eyes—two big and brown and the other narrowing and blue – all seemed to fix on me.  I know for a fact that her’s never blinked.”
Read Woman With The Dogs


Ross Peterson of Laughing Stalk Farm who sells at Cape Riverfront Market

“Farmer’s markets are the dinner tables of healthy communities.  They are the place where everyone can gather to exchange stories and laughter with the accompaniment of good food.  They are the place where we can talk about what is going on in our lives – whether mundane, exuberant, or somber.  Through these interactions we learn about each other, and in turn grow with one another just like a family. This is the story of our dinner table, our family, and how it has nourished us.”
Read Home is Where the Market Is


The Farmers Market Coalition thanks Growing for Market and Mother Earth News for making the Farmers Market Inspiration Award possible.