Is the rapid growth of farmer's markets undermining their success?
According to an August 8 article on MassLive.com titled Glut of Massachusetts farmers markets spreading customers too thin, there's a high concentration of farmer's markets in the Amherst area (10 within 10 miles) and in northeast Massachusetts near Chelmsford and Westford but not enough customers to support those markets. A Care2 blog post dated August 20 looks at the topic on a national level, noting that profits are down for many farmers in over-saturated markets, including those in the Berkshires.
Fortunately, the MassLive.com article notes that some densely populated communities like Cambridge do have enough demand to sustain farmer's markets every day of the week. So, maybe the solution isn't reducing the number of farmer's markets but increasing demand.
Here in the greater Boston area, we're fortunate that to have so many options for food. Lyn, Tara, and I all live in communities that value "real" food and support local farmers. But many people in these communities still don't know how to work fresh ingredients into their meals (we can help with that!) or they assume that farmer's markets are too expensive (not necessarily true) so they stick to the grocery store.
Worse still are the communities (what Michelle Obama calls "food deserts") that simply don't have access to these options. The First Lady is encouraging large grocery store chains to expand into these food deserts, but we'd love to see farmer's markets sprout up in those areas as well. Perhaps as more people across the country discover the versatility and nutritional value of fresh produce, they'll be more likely to visit their local farmer's market. And when they do, we hope they'll share the "fruits" of their labor by swapping these delicious creations.
What do you think? Is there such a thing as too many farmer's markets? How can we ensure that farmer's market succeed amidst increased competition?
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