Kaid Benfield Archive


Great community places: America’s favorite farmers’ markets!

Kaid Benfield

Posted August 13, 2009 at 1:38PM

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  Davis, CA (by: Bev Sykes, creative commons license)

For many years, the American Farmland Trust has been my go-to organization when it comes to things sustainable in farming, conservation, and food, and they have just announced the winners of their national "favorite farmers' markets" contest.  Personally, I love farmers' markets, mostly for the sense of place and community gathering that they create.  (And the food is usually not too shabby, either.)  But they also provide ways to support farms, farmers and local economies, often reducing the environmental impacts of food consumption (though that can be a more complicated issue than it appears) in the process.

Vendors at the Davis Farmers' Market (by: Greg Hirson, creative commons license)Our neighborhood has a farmers' market only for a few hours per week, when a traveling group of vendors sets up shop in a school parking lot for a while before moving on to other DC locations.  It's enormously popular, and they offer terrific baked goods and produce.  AFT says it supports local farmers' markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and food cooperatives "because they are resources that our local communities cannot afford to lose."  That makes sense to me. 

The organization created the "America's favorite" contest "to raise national awareness about the importance of supporting fresh food from local farms and farmers."  You can see an interactive map of all the eligible markets (and there are many!) on AFT's website.  Contestants were divided into categories: large (55+ vendors), medium (31-55 vendors), and small (30 or fewer vendors).  The top 20 in each category are listed here.  The winners were determined by popular vote. 

Above and below are some scenes from the top vote-getters in each of the three categories, starting with the large-market winner (garnering over 3000 votes) in Davis, California:

  this way to the fun (by: Nico Sanchez, creative commons license)  the Davis Farmers' Market (by: Marilyn M, creative commons license)

  the Davis market usually has music (by: Bev Sykes, creative commons license)  always a popular attraction in Davis (by: djdau/Daniel, creative commons license)

The blurb on AFT's interactive map says this about the market in Davis: 

"With 85 vendors and a 33-year history, the bustling Davis Farmers' Market is the region's biggest and best place to shop locally.  Growers, ranchers, crafters, food vendors, community groups and musicians add to the market's local appeal."

It wouldn't be Davis without some bikes in the photos, of course. 

The Williamsburg, Virginia Farmers Market won the medium category:

             entrance to the Williamsburg Farmers' Market (by: Ron Miguel, creative commons license)

     browsing at the Williamsburg market (by: Lucas Hale, creative commons license)  a booth at the Willamsburg market (by: williamsburgfarmersmarket.com)

Here's the description:

"The market is located in Merchants' Square in the heart of Williamsburg on Duke of Gloucester Street.  Flowerbeds and benches, music, and chef demonstrations offer a tranquil setting for shopping at the producer-only market."

And Collingswood, New Jersey's market won in the small category:

  The Collingswood Farmers' Market (by: Katherine Hala, creative commons license)

  Jersey Fresh organic (by: Katherine Hala, creative commons license)  how to take it home (by: supercarrot, creative commons license)

The description for Collingswood:

"10-year-old, open air Saturday morning market, one of the region's biggest markets.  A closer connection to your food from farmers that grow it.  Local produce, meats, cheese, honey, plants, cut flowers, more.  Harvests change weekly."

Bikes, music, and food:  Those are pretty good ingredients for a good time, if you ask me.