Why Virginia Needs Farmers Markets
Written for the Virginia Farmers Market Association to promote the 2019 Farmers Market Week, Visitor Count Week and Virginia is for Farmers Market Lovers designation.
National and Virginia Farmers Market Week is August 4 – 10, 2019. It’s during this week each year that the Virginia Farmers Market Association (VAFMA) joins other organizations across the country to celebrate farmers markets and the significant contributions they make to their communities.
As part of the celebration, Dr. Jewel H. Bronaugh, Commissioner of Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services plans to present an official proclamation from the Governor of Virginia to VAFMA Executive Director Kim Hutchinson at the Goochland Farmers Market on Tuesday, August 6 at 3:30 PM.
Across the nation community leaders are recognizing the important role farmers markets play in their localities. They stimulate local economies, increase access to fresh, healthy food, promote sustainable farming practices that protect our water and soil, and preserve American farmland. In response to requests from public officials, press and the market community, VAFMA is working to quantify some of these impacts.
Supported by funding from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services, VAFMA began offering the Farmers Market Coalition’s Farmers Market Metrics program to its members in 2017. This program allows markets of all sizes to collect useful data to analyze their own operation, as well as offering dynamic data to share with the market’s stakeholders.
In 2018, 13 markets shared their vendor data with us and the results are impressive.
Preliminary data shows that at these 13 farmers markets …
13,439 acres of diversified farmland is in production by vendors. America loses an acre of farmland every hour to development.
45 miles is the average distance food travels from farm to market. Most food eaten in the U.S. has travelled nearly 1,200 miles.
605 businesses are supported by these 7 markets over the course of the year. Farmers markets allow new and small businesses to enter the marketplace.
3,034 employees are supported by the vendors’ businesses. Small businesses create new meaningful employment opportunities.
101 of the vendors are young or beginning farmers. Markets help build the next generation of American farmers.
443 of the vendors are women or minority businesses. Markets offer economic opportunities to all members of our community.
The thirteen participating Virginia farmers markets are Birdhouse Farmers Market, Broadway Farmers Market, Carytown Farmers Market, Charlottesville City Market, Chesterfield County Farmers Market, Farmers in the Park, Goochland Farmers Market, Hampton Blvd Farmers Market, Independence Farmers Market, Lakeside Farmers Market, OnTheSquareVA Farmers Market, South of the James Market and Williamsburg Farmers Market.
During Farmers Market Week, VAFMA is also introducing Visitor Count Week. Nearly 60 farmers market operators across Virginia will count their visitors. This is the nation’s inaugural Visitor Count Week, highlighting the data-driven mindset of farmers market operators, encouraging volunteerism, and resulting in simple graphic-friendly numbers that are useful to a wide number of stakeholders to show the diverse effects of markets.
VAFMA will compile the visitor counts from all participating markets and share the insights with the markets and their stakeholders. While visitor counts are regularly conducted by many market operators in the state, there has not been a concurrent statewide effort to collect and share this information. More About this Initiative
Virginia is for Farmers Market Lovers
Virginia is (now officially) for Farmers Market Lovers! The Virginia Tourism Corporation granted VAFMA permission to use the iconic Virginia is for Lovers logo to promote Virginia’s farmers markets. Governor Northam’s Virginia Farmers Market Week proclamation recognizes the designation and Commissioner Bronaugh will be presenting the proclamation to VAFMA during Farmers Market Week.
VAFMA is working on a Farmers Market Trail, named — you guessed it — the Virginia is for Farmers Market Lovers Trail!