Our View: Celebrating our farmers market

Published 9:45 am Thursday, August 1, 2019

week dedicated to celebrating and supporting local farmers is upon us. The first full week of August is set aside as National Farmers Market Week.

The annual national proclamation from the U.S.D.A. making this Farmers Market Week praises the local effort for producers to sell directly to customers:

They “serve as significant outlets by which small-to-medium, new and beginning, and veteran agricultural producers market agricultural products, and (generate) revenue that supports the sustainability of family farms and the revitalization of rural communities nationwide.”

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Clark County is home to a beautiful and thriving farmers market.

The Winchester-Clark County Farmers’ Market continues to grow year after year on Depot Street in downtown Winchester.

In addition to twice weekly sales days, the market offers a variety of special events throughout the season, including the Veggie Fest, Kids Day, Senior Market Days and the popular Holy Smokes BBQ contest slated for this weekend.

The local farmers market is one of thousands around the country making huge strides to create healthier, more vibrant communities.

The number of farmers markets in the U.S. continues to grow, from about 2,800 in 2000 to more than 8,500 in 2019.

According to the National Farmers Market Coalition, the benefits of markets are widespread:

— Farmers markets stimulate local economies. Growers selling locally create 13 full-time jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those not selling locally create three. Locally-owned retailers, such as farmers markets, return more than three times as much of their sales to the local economy compared to chain competitors. Farmers markets provide beginning farmers a low-cost way to enter the marketplace and grow their business. According to the USDA, farmers that sell at farmers markets are more likely to stay in business than those who don’t. Markets also stimulate sales at nearby businesses.

— Farmers markets preserve farmland and rural livelihoods. The U.S. loses an acre of farmland a minute to development. Approximately 25 percent of vendors derive their sole source of income from the market. Additionally, one in four farmers at farmers market farm on protected land.

— Farmers markets increase access to fresh food. About $24 million in SNAP (food stamps) benefits were spent at farmers markets in 2018. That’s fresh food for low-income Americans and increased revenue for farmers. Additionally, 60 percent of farmers market shoppers in low-income neighborhoods say their market had better prices than the grocery store. More than 1 million low-income moms and children got fresh local produce at farmers markets through WIC in 2015.

— Farmers markets support healthy community. People who shop at farmers market have 15 to 20 social interactions per visit. They would have only one to two per visit to the grocery store. Proximity to farmers markets is also associated with lower body mass index.

— Farmers markets keep farmers in the field. Farmers and ranchers receive only 15 cents of every food dollar that consumers spend at traditional food outlets. At a farmers market, 100 percent of your food dollar goes to your local farmer. Studies have shown all farms, regardless of scale, are significantly more likely to survive if they have local food sales as a part of their marketing portfolio.

We are thankful for our local market, for the farmers that make it possible and for the many volunteers that aid in the mission of bringing fresh, healthy food to our community.

This week, we encourage our readers to take a trip to the market so see all that is offers.

The market is open 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays on Depot Street. For more information about the market and special events, visit the Winchester-Clark County Farmers’ Market page on Facebook.