Original farmers’ Markets were viewed in the early days as a saviour for many small family farming businesses who had been suffering from a decade long recession in farming and were a chance for a farmer to get close to the customer and cut out costs and the middle men. For many traditional markets they were viewed as a threat. As farmers’ markets have grown up, relationships with the traditional market world have strengthened and lessons are being shared more and more between markets of all types.
In 2014 the National Farmers Retail and Markets Association (FARMA) changed their management team and with the change came the opportunity to review and reflect on the current state of Farmers’ Markets.
Michael Mack of FARMA said
With any market you have to have great traders, but with a farmers market they also have to be farmers and processors. Take a simple beef steak on a farmers market. Many beef producers selling at markets also breed the animals. This is a commitment in time of over 2 years and closer to 3 years in many farms for the farmer. The commitment in time and money does not stop there, finding and transporting the animal to a slaughter house, butchering the animal and ensuring you have exactly the correct type and amount on a Saturday morning when you arrive at market is a testament to the effort these farmers put in to a farmers market stall. This story is not just true for the butcher stalls on the market it’s also true for the soft fruit, veg stall or dairy stall.
Farmers’ markets are setup to provide an opportunity to local producers with most markets setting a 30 mile catchment for all sellers. On one hand this creates a challenge to the organiser as they will have limitations on who can attend but on the other hand it makes the market a part of the community. With more and more markets being set up by local trade associations within a town, farmers at the farmers’ market often find new opportunities to sell their produce in other outlets of the town.
Bringing a buzz to the high street farmers markets can’t sit back and expect people to know when the market is in town. Many markets are monthly and this means you have to shout very loudly the week of the market just to remind people of its existence, then on market day we see markets picking up the mantle to be energising the town for a few hours. It’s not unusual to have a band playing, entertainers and in many situations a cookery theatre.