We applaud the explosive proliferation of farmers markets in the USA. In 1994, there were approximately 1,755 farmers markets in the United States. By 2013 their numbers have more than tripled — to at least 8,100. In excess of 3 million consumers shop and more than 70,000 farmers sell at these markets annually. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that these markets generate at least $1.5 billion in consumer spending each year.
The Farmers Market Coalition is driven by three complimentary goals. We call it our triple bottom line. Farmers earn fair prices for the fruits of their labor by selling directly to consumers. Consumers gain access to fresh, nutritious, local produce. Communities regain a figurative “town square,” experiencing the many positive outcomes of foot traffic and animated public space. Throughout the USA, farmers markets are achieving these goals. Some are doing it better than others. While we too are dazzled by the bigger markets which assemble hundreds of vendors and thousands of shoppers, size is not our only measure of success. Sometimes, it is the smaller farmers market operating in a challenging neighborhood that achieves this triple bottom line.
The mission of FMC is “to strengthen farmers markets for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and communities.”
Toward that end, the priorities of FMC are:
- To serve as an information center for farmers markets.
- To be a voice for North American farmers market advocacy.
- To foster strong state and regional farmers market associations.
- To bring private and public support to the table to sustain farmers markets in the long term, for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and communities.
- To promote farmers markets to the public.
- To develop and provide educational programming and networking opportunities for farmers market managers and farmers market vendors.
Many agencies and groups support farmers markets – cooperative extension, food security advocates, departments of agriculture, and a host of nongovernmental organizations. The FMC supports these efforts in serving as a central hub from which to locate allies, identify and share best practices, and positively impact public policy pertaining to farmers markets.