American Farmland Trust is celebrating the work and dedication of farmers who sell at national farmers’ markets through its America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest and the launch of an online leader-board of the top 20 farmers’ markets in each of the four categories: boutique, small, medium and large markets. Up-to-the minute results have been tracked throughout the month of August. Make sure you get you vote in soon—the contest closes on Aug. 31, 2010.
“According to the USDA, the number of farmers’ markets has increased 16 percent in the past year. People who have voted in the contest so far have told us that they are excited about their local farmers’ market, whether it has five vendors or 50, and they like the opportunity to get to know the people who grow their food,” says Jane Kirchner, AFT’s senior director of marketing and communications. “It’s clear to me that consumers are fueling the growth in farmers’ markets.”
AFT’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest is designed to promote the value of farmers’ markets in communities and helps make the connection between fresh local foods and the farms and farmland that supply them. America has been losing more than an acre of farm and ranch land every minute to development, and farmers’ markets can play a critical role in the economic health of farms, helping to keep farmland in agricultural production by giving them a venue to sell their products.
“Farmers’ markets offer different opportunities—for farmers it may be a new venue to put into the marketing mix for their operation, or a way to tap into the value-added market,” Kirchner adds. “For consumers, it’s about fresh, local food and community. For AFT, it’s an opportunity to bring home the message that we must work to protect America’s farm and ranch land that makes healthy food, healthy farms and healthy communities possible.”
This summer, thousands of individuals have voted for more than 1,200 farmers markets enrolled in the contest, representing 49 states and Washington, D.C. The website is updated after every visit, so you can watch participants race to the finish line. To vote, visit the AFT contest page.