Maine farmers’ markets buck national trend, officials say

      Posted On: August 27, 2018

Maine’s farmers’ markets appear to be bucking a national trend of lower participation, according to research by the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets.

The federation is conducting a survey on its website to gauge participation in farmers markets that asks about their buying habits, where they shop and how much they spend.

“Not many of markets track attendance, for a variety of reasons,” said Leigh Hallett, executive director of MFFM Friday morning. She said, aside from the survey, the MFFM is getting information from vendors.

“We have been checking in with farmers regarding sales this season, though, and have heard mostly good news. It’s too early to get a comprehensive sense of how the season has been for markets across the state, but we’re hearing of mostly consistent growth over last season.”

A Cornell University survey looking for input from consumers comes after a study that participation is down across much of the country.

The survey, which is available until Oct. 1, asks questions that are similar to the MFFM survey, though more in depth, with a focus on buying local food and goods.

Results will be analyzed by a team from Cornell’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management.

Hallett said that there are factors related to Maine markets that may not have the same impact in other parts of the Northeast, or the country.

“The majority of our markets in in relatively rural areas,” ‘she said. “I suspect that markets in other states may be seeing more impact from an increase in options for shoppers to find local products. In many Maine market towns, the farmers’ market is still the place to purchase fresh, locally-produced foods.”