We all love our farmers markets and we’re delighted to have an area market, the Williamsburg Farmers Market, voted as one of the top 3 medium-sized markets in the nation by their patrons in an American Farmland Trust contest. According to a recent New York Times article, there may be a glut of farmers markets in parts of the country and profits are shrinking as markets compete. Are they reaching a saturation point? Farmers markets in America grew by 17% in 2010 according to Bloomberg Business Week and have tripled since the mid-90’s according to the USDA. The New York Times states that 1,043 markets were established this year alone.
The glut may be more acute in larger populated areas like Seattle and San Francisco, perhaps with a marketing technique of a coffee shop on every corner. In Gloucester county, there are two official farmers markets and a number of other individual markets along our country roads touting vegetables, fruits, jellies and fresh-baked goods. To top it off, we now have Walmart vowing to double sales of locally grown produce. In Gloucester, they are carrying locally grown melons.
All this may be good for the customer who is looking for the best, the freshest, organically grown produce but what does this say about the future of farmers markets? Have the number of farmers markets outpaced demand? What do you think? Perhaps only the farmers can say for sure.
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester