The concept of a farmers’ market has been around for hundreds and in some countries thousands of years, since suppliers of food and other goods gathered to retail their wares in village squares. One of the oldest Markets in the province of Ontario is the Kingston Public Market which started in 1801– The markets have transformed over time as retailer and consumer preferences shift.
Modern grocery stores now attempt to replicate the feel of village markets through design and ambiance while maximizing convenience and product selection. However, the reality is much of their products travel great distances, are harvested early before they reach optimal maturity, and take money out of the local community.
Farmers’ markets bring local, fresh produce direct from the farmer to the consumer. There is a connection between how your food is grown where your food has come from. There are many benefits to farmer’s markets.
- less transport
- less handling
- less refrigeration
- less time in storage
- farmers retain profits
Among the benefits often touted for communities with farmers' markets:
- Farmers' markets help maintain important social ties, linking rural and urban populations and even close neighbours in mutually rewarding exchange.
- market traffic generates traffic for nearby businesses
- buying at markets encourages attention to the surrounding area and ongoing activities
- by providing outlets for 'local' products, farmers' markets help create distinction and uniqueness, which can increase pride and encourage visitors to return. Reduced transport, storage, and refrigeration can benefit communities too:
- lower transport & refrigeration energy costs
- lower transport pollution
- lower transport infrastructure cost (roads, bridges, etc.)
- less land dedicated to food storage
Benefits to Consumers
Consumers often favour farmers' markets for:
- reduced overhead: driving, parking, etc.
- fresher foods
- seasonal foods
- healthier foods
- a better variety of foods, e.g.: organic foods, pasture-raised meats, free-range eggs and poultry, handmade farmstead cheeses, heirloom produce heritage breeds of meat and many less transport-immune cultivars disfavoured by large grocers
- a place to meet neighbours, chat, etc.
- a place to enjoy an outdoor walk while getting needed groceries
- Typically lower prices