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What is a Farmers' Market? A farmers' market is one in which farmers, growers or producers from a defined local area are present in person to sell their own produce, direct to the public. All products sold should have been grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled, baked, smoked or processed by the stallholder. Why have a farmer's market? Because.......Farmers' markets benefit: Producers They cut out the middleman allowing increased financial returns through direct selling, price control, and a regular cash flow. They provide the producer with direct customer feedback on produce and prices. Transport and packaging requirements are less thus reducing the producers' costs. They provide a secure and regular market outlet. This is especially valuable for; new producers, producers in organic conversion, and small scale producers who are unable to produce the quantity required by supermarkets With the increase in market numbers it is possible for individual producers to attend a substantial number of different markets. A number of farmers have indicated that this form of marketing has prevented their businesses from bankruptcy. Consumers They provide direct contact and feedback between customers and producers, so you can be sure how your vegetables are grown and meat produced. They help to improve diet and nutrition by providing access to fresh food. They play an important role in educating the consumer as to the production and origin of their food. They can be a source of information and inspiration on how to cook and prepare fresh ingredients. The Environment They help reduce food miles, thus vehicle pollution, noise, and fossil fuel use. They help to reduce packaging. They encourage more environmental production practices, such as organic or pesticide free. They encourage farm diversification and hence bio-diversity. The Community & Local Economy They help bring life into towns and cities aiding regeneration. They encourage social interaction particularly between rural and urban communities. They stimulate local economic development by increasing employment, encouraging consumers to support local business, and thus keeping the money within the local community. They attract business to retailers in the vicinity. Feedback from retailers in areas adjacent to the market locations has indicated that on days when a farmers' market has been operating, takings have increased by up to 30% (W H Smith and Debenhams in Winchester both reported such statistics). They can encourage the unemployed and under employed to develop new skills, self confidence and income generating possibilities. They play an important role in Local Agenda 21 and other Council initiatives established to increase the environmental sustainability of government policies, local communities, and businesses. ........And they are fun! What is the purpose of a Farmers' Market? Farmers' Markets enable local producers to sell their goods directly to consumers. This means; fresher food; a better understanding between producer and consumer; high quality produce at an affordable price; and a fairer income for producers. Farmers' Markets promote a more sustainable society by reducing "food miles", assisting in the sale and marketing of food produced to high environmental and welfare standards, and by reconnecting consumers with the farming community that surrounds and serves them. The benefits are numerous! top What's special about a Farmers' Market? Nowhere else will you find such a mixture of fresh and locally produced goods, nor will you find the vibrant and friendly atmosphere that make doing your weekly shopping an enjoyable experience! The nature of Farmers' Markets makes them a perfect outlet for local specialist produce, such as wild boar sausages, buffalo cheese, smoked eel, bison burgers and ostrich fillets. top How do I know what's being sold is fresh and local? Simply ask the stall' holders. They should be able to tell you the precise production history of everything they sell. This includes whether their vegetables are pesticide free, or their eggs organic. You can check by asking them, how they control pests, how they house their pigs, or what they feed their hens. If a vegetable is not in season, ask how they've managed to grow it. They will be pleased to tell you. top Do Farmers' Markets only sell Organic Produce? No, though a lot of organic producers sell at Farmers' Markets as they are the ideal outlet for those who are unable to produce the quantities required by supermarkets. Farmers' Markets are also the answer for many small farmers in the process of organic conversion. They provide a reliable outlet for their produce for which other outlets are not economically viable. top Is food at Farmers' Markets cheaper than elsewhere? Farmers markets are not necessarily the least expensive food outlet in town. Prices should reflect quality and quality can cost a little more. Farmers are looking for a better margin on what they sell than they would get elsewhere and full retail prices (plus a little more if appropriate for high-welfare or other special claims) can be justified. Benefits Increasing consumer understanding of the sources of their food is another by-product. Local consumers can get to know local producers, building up a close relationship of trust and also building up consumer loyalty. Another important issue is health. There are many people who cannot afford to buy good quality fresh fruit and vegetables and whose health suffers accordingly. A regular market selling high quality local food, will benefit them. Benefits to local economy Money spent on locally-produced food generates almost twice as much income for the local economy as the same amount spent in a typical supermarket. These have given local producers an opportunity to sell directly to local people. High quality local fruit and vegetables, which has not had to travel to a distant distribution centre and then back again, thus losing freshness and quality and adding to cost, has been on sale to local consumers. It also gives small scale growers with a garden or allotment a chance to make a small profit from selling their surplus. We can hope that it will persuade a few more people to start growing their own when they see what can be produced nearby.
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