Growing up in North Texas I had no idea farmer’s markets even existed. I knew you could sometimes find roadside stands with old people selling fruits on the way to Dallas, but my family never stopped. It wasn’t until I was in college in Shawnee that a professor told us about the one in town. My husband ended up managing the farmer’s market in Edmond two summers ago, and then last year we sold at the Shawnee market. I have not been able to be very involved until this year, where we sell in Cleveland. We were accepted to the Stillwater Market, where we know we could sell more and make more money. However, it is very important to us to sell as locally as we can, and to the people in our community: where Chad grew up, where our children will grow up, and where our home is. We want people to have access to good quality homegrown food. We know you can go to the local grocery store or Wal-Mart, but you do not know the farmer who grew that tomato, what chemicals were used, or how far it had to be shipped to get there.
I am only saying this to get you thinking. Most towns have a farmer’s market, and if yours does not I bet there is one close by. Hard working farmers are growing fresh produce in your own back yard because they understand our food crisis and want to give you the opportunity to get good food right where you live. Please go and support them.
Two Important Things I Think You Should Know:
1). Farmer’s Markets are meant to be for locally grown and handmade items ONLY.
- If you see a watermelon at your market in May, that farmer probably did not grow his melon but bought it from a packing house or auction (yes they have those). Another clue is if they are still in the printed cardboard boxes he brought them in.
- Ask questions such as, “Did you grow this?”, “Where is your farm located?”, and “How many years have you been producing?” They may still lie to you, but be aware that there are people who buy at auctions and packing houses and resell for Wal-Mart prices or less at your local farmers market.
- What’s the problem with that?
- For one, you have no idea who grew that tomato, where it came from, or what chemicals were used on it. Technically, you’re not buying local.
- Secondly, by buying from a reseller you are taking money away from the actual farmers at the market by not buying his/her produce or not waiting for it to come into season.
- If you see a farmer there that you know is growing his/her own produce, please support them. Wait until their produce is in season before purchasing it, instead of buying from the reseller.
(Side note: I have no problem with people who resell produce. I would and have bought porter peaches from them before. But a Farmer’s Market is meant for local produce/items only. Most farmer’s markets in the state have guidelines and rules, which do not allow items into the market that were not grown locally. There are many other locations to resell produce other than at the farmer’s market. Also, it is important to note that a person reselling produce must have a license from the health department to do so, plus all people selling at the market must have a sales tax permit as well. These are also questions to ask your local farmers/resellers)
2.) Why are Farmer’s Market Prices so expensive?
- A Farmer’s Market is NOT Wal-Mart.
- Farmer’s spend hours upon hours planting seed, weeding, fertilizing, etc. etc. etc. Now that I work from home farming, I see first hand how much work goes into it. Yes, we sell our green beans for $4.00/lb. If you do not think they are worth that much, please come plant the seeds, keep them watered, keep them fertilized, and pick them one by one and tell me how much they are worth.
- Farmer’s spend a lot of money on seed, fertilizer, tools, water, heat for the greenhouse, and not to mention the big items, such as a green house, cooler, tractors, etc.
- If a farmer is growing his own produce, he/she cannot afford to sell it as cheap as Wal-Mart. Most of the farmer’s you see at your local farmer’s markets make their living off of one or two market days a week.
- Wal-mart grows their produce in Mexico to avoid paying living wages for their labor, local farmer’s provide most of their own labor and when they do hire labor, they compensate their workers handsomely (there are strict department of labor regulations on how farm labor must be compensated).
I hope this helps you better understand the importance of farmer’s markets, what to look for to make sure your getting locally grown items, and why prices are higher than store bought produce.
Thank you for supporting your local farmers. Doesn’t it feel good to know and put a face with the farmer that grew your food?!