Celebrating Farmers Markets This August as Part of National Farmers’ Market Week

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It’s July, and despite this year’s heat and drought, local farms and farmers markets are in full swing. Farmers markets bring many benefits to the community, both to farmers and consumers. There is even a national event dedicated to them! National Farmers Market Week (NFMW) is an annual celebration hosted by the Farmers Market Coalition which showcases the important role that farmers markets play in our national food system. This year the event will be held August 7-13, and we’ll be celebrating here in Lee County. During this week, we will also highlight the various community partnerships that help make our downtown market possible. This week will also be an opportunity for you to give us ideas on how the market can grow in the future. Farmers’ markets don’t just happen, it is a community effort, and we want to hear from everyone.

Community Impacts of Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are valuable resources to communities, serving as locations for regular access to healthy, fresh local foods, incubators for small and beginning farms, avenues for supplementing local economies, and spaces for conversations and mobilization about local foods and supporting community health and wellness. Studies indicate that farmers markets help to increase produce consumption in both urban and rural areas, as farmers market shopping is directly correlated with fruit and vegetable consumption. Farmers markets serve as business incubators for new food producers and businesses, providing a low-cost entry into the market while allowing opportunities to connect directly with customers and to pilot new products and services. Direct-to-consumer marketing, like farmers markets and community supported agriculture (ex. subscription boxes), compose the majority of income for young and beginning farmers. Farmers markets also help to support local economies; in 2020, about 78% of farms who sold food directly to customers did so within a 100-mile radius of their farm. Farmers markets also serve as a connection between urban and rural communities, providing a unique space to gather and learn about how food is grown and ways to prepare healthy, fresh foods.

Celebrating National Farmers’ Market Week 

This August is the 23rd celebration of National Farmers Market Week, and one of this year’s key messages is “farmers’ markets don’t just happen.” Behind the scenes of each market are individuals that ensure they run smoothly each week, as well as community members who provide support and offer spaces for markets to operate and volunteers who assist with market activities. For the Sanford Farmers’ Market, N.C. Cooperative Extension and the market vendor leadership team coordinate market logistics each week by sending out communications, planning activities, and exploring opportunities for the market to grow and better meet the needs of farmers and consumers alike. We are thankful to the City of Sanford for our current location in downtown, and we work closely with Downtown Sanford Inc., Visit Sanford, and local media for promotion and organizing events. We also collaborate with local businesses to support each other’s operations.

To close, the Sanford Farmers’ Market is growing, thanks to all our community support. Come see us every Saturday until November 12, especially August 6th and 13th as we celebrate National Farmers Market Week, and share with us what you love about the market and how it can better serve the community in the future. We would love to have you celebrate with us and help us grow!

For more information on farmers markets and connecting with local foods in our community, please contact N.C. Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center and ask for Meredith Favre, our Local Foods Coordinator, for more information.