Farmers Markets Preserve Farmland and Rural Livelihoods

  • Small-scale farmers use farmers markets as incubators for new enterprises and gain real-time feedback on new crops and varieties.
  • Even small community markets are champions of farmland preservation and farm viability; Georgia’s Lilburn Farmers Market gives 10 farmers an opportunity to grow produce on 500 acres of farmland.
  • Eighty percent of farmers market vendors in Iowa, New York, and California said that farmers markets offer them a greater opportunity for business development than any other possible marketing outlet.
  • The seven Seattle farmers markets hosted by the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance support 9,491 acres of farmland in diversified production.
  • From 1992 to 2007, 21% of mid-sized farms in the U.S. stopped operations.
  • There are 5 times as many U.S. farmers over the age of 65 compared to those under 35. Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for new farmers, allowing them to start small as they learn and test the market.
  • The number of farmers markets operating in winter months increased by 52% between 2011 and 2012. The 1,864 markets open in the winter provide an extended opportunity for farmers to do business.

“If it weren’t for the rise of farmers markets, a lot of these small farms would simply not exist.” Rebecca Landis, market director for the Corvallis-Albany Farmers’ Markets. 

“We were working hard to protect the region’s farmland but realized that without a new generation of farmers and stronger local food systems, there would be no one to work the land, protected or not.” Noelle Ferdon, Director of Local Food Systems, Northern California Regional Land Trust