Going to the Farmer’s Market is More than Just Getting Food

We all know that when you support local farmer’s markets, you should have a much greater likelihood of knowing exactly where the food and other products you buy come from.  If you have questions, your farmer will be there answer them.  If you want to find out how they care for their chickens, someone should be able to willingly share that information with you.  While going to the grocery store can make you feel like you don’t know who to trust, going to a farmer’s market can certainly ease your mind about the quality of food you are purchasing for your family.
So farmer’s markets are great for consumers, but choosing to go to the farmer’s market not only is a benefit to consumers, it also provides incredible benefits in many other areas.  Perhaps some you may not have even considered.  So if you already go to a local farmer’s market, pat yourself on the back for all the good you are doing as you’re reading this list.  If you don’t yet go to the farmer’s market, skim over this list and hopefully some of these reasons will have you packing up your reusable bags next weekend and heading out to your local market.

1.    Support local families
You don’t just support farm operations, you are literally supporting families when you shop local at farmer’s markets.  You dollars are given directly to the person who is not only putting money back into his or her business but also putting food on the table for their families.  When you go week after week, you will start to meet the very family that you are helping to support with your purchases.  What an incredible feeling to know that your choices are helping people in your local community create a livelihood.

2.    Build local economy
You’re money is specifically supporting a family’s livelihood but that also extends into the local economy.  The more money we spend supporting local business, the longer the money stays in our communities.  This is good news for our local economies.  When we only support big corporations with our dollars, our money goes to the entire corporation, not a single family who lives works and spends money in the same community.  The more localized we spend our money the more the local economy can boom.

3.    Community Building
So, financially helping the farmers and the economy is important but the entire community can be strengthened when its members go to farmer’s markets. You see a neighbor or someone you know quite casually and share a common hello and friendly smile.  Perhaps you stop for a conversation with someone whom you have not seen in some time.  Through these conversations, smiles, nods and acknowledgements, you begin to build familiarity and bonds.  It’s from these naturally formed bonds that community is strengthened. If this bond is already formed naturally, it is already in place if there is a major issue, problem or topic that is relevant to your local community.  Although it’s completely fine to not spend your entire morning perusing the market, it’s quite common to see people and families talking, laughing, sharing a few moments in a common space that is there to celebrate the local community and all that it can offer and provide to its members.

4.    Create webs of interconnection
Similarly to building community, through regularly going to your local farmer’s markets, webs of interconnection can be created.  This simply means that people become more aware of who offers what kinds of services or specialize in certain areas.  These connections naturally happen between the consumers and the vendors, but this also begins to happen among the patrons.  We start to learn if a family needs help with something or is sick.  We start to know what people do for a living and begin to frequent their establishments, or recommend reputable local services to others.  We start to talk about local government topics and want to become involved or know someone who we would be perfect for the task.  We begin to realize that we don’t need to do everything alone.  Perhaps we begin to borrow tools from each other or offer to watch a child in a bind. We quite naturally see that we are each integral to the community because we each have a wealth of gifts, talents and even items that can contribute to the success of the whole.  We realize that together we are stronger, and that each person is important to that connection.

So of course it is wonderful to get local food and other handcrafted items from our local farmer’s markets and honestly that would have been enough for me to continue to go.  But it’s clear that there is an abundance of other benefits that can happen through frequenting our local markets.  So, I wish each of you a season of heading to your local farmer’s markets knowing that you are not only getting to experience local food and seasonality but may also be helping to strengthen your community in a variety of ways that you may not have even realized possible!  It’s clearly a win-win for everyone involved! Happy shopping!

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