Customers pick up some fresh produce from the Riverbend Roots Farm booth at the Webster Groves Farmers Market / Photo by Shannon O’Connor
If bunny rabbits had a grocery list, where would they shop?
I’ll give you a hint – there is probably one right in your own neighborhood.
You guessed it. Farmers markets!
(What? If you were a bunny, wouldn’t you want the freshest lettuce and carrots you could buy?)
Luckily, we humans DO get to shop at these open air markets of goodness.
Every spring and summer, local farmers, growers and crafters come together to offer an array of fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, dairy products and home-canned goods.
Depending on the market location and the number of vendors participating, the farmers market can be a one-stop shop for your veggie and produce needs.
At the Webster Groves Farmers Market, more than 25 different vendors display their wares every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. In only its third year in downtown Webster, this farmers market has made a huge impact on the community.
“We only hope to get more vendors and potentially work out an opportunity to have donations available to the Foodbank or its agencies after the market concludes,” says Market Master Angela Foley. “We are looking forward to more years to come and enjoy seeing the mixture of people who attend each week, especially all of the families.”
Here are some of best things about farmers markets. They can:
- Ignite social activity by getting people out and about in the neighborhood.
- Bring a variety of new faces to a neighborhood, thus encouraging networking between various social and cultural groups.
- Generate revenue for vendors and the neighborhood.
- Bring fresh produce to neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food items such fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Promote farmers and growers! Farmers large and small get to generate business and meet customers face-to-face.
- Encourage a healthy diet. If you see it, you’ll eat it! Markets offer a variety of fresh, locally-grown produce. Many items are organic or have fewer chemicals.
- Offer reasonable prices. By keeping their products local and avoiding overhead costs, vendors can often charge less than grocery stores.
- Provide hands-on learning experiences. Growers can share recipes and advice on preparing fresh ingredients.
A farmers market should and can be a fun outdoor adventure for the whole family. This is your opportunity to teach your children about making good food choices.
Right now, 16.7 million children in the United States live in households that don’t have access to wholesome foods. Since food insecure children are sick more often, recuperate more slowly, and are more apt to be hospitalized at an average cost of $12,000 per visit, this is a major concern for all of us.
With obesity rates skyrocketing, the need for more fresh produce is even more important. Farmers markets are just part of the solution to getting healthier foods to those who need it most.
Kris Larson of Riverbend Roots Farm is a vendor at Webster Groves Farmers Market.
“Since we are eager to extend our reach by participating in farmers markets, we hope to build a larger customer basis while also growing as a farm,” Larson says. “We give excess or close-to-date items from our farm straight to an Alton, Illinois church organization so that they may provide to the families in need.”
Like Riverbend Roots, any grower, gardener or farmer who has any excess, off spec, close-to-code, or sample products are encouraged to donate these items to the St. Louis Area Foodbank or one of our partner agencies.
Last year, the Foodbank distributed 1,902,800 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Our clients certainly appreciate the fresh produce – even if it isn’t perfectly shaped!
For the farmers market in your area check out the following sites:
Shannon O’Connor is the product solicitation coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank