AFT_FavFMLogo-CMYK1.gifAmerica's Favorite Farmers Markets in 2012

More than 47,000 votes were cast online in support of nearly 1,700 participating farmers markets organized into four different size categories for American Farmland Trust's fourth annual America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™ contest. By harvest season, the votes were tallied. 

The nationwide contest challenged farmers markets across America to rally support from their customers to make their market one of the favorites. Ultimately, the contest helped promote the connection between fresh food and the local farms and farmland that supply it.

The winners for 2012 are…

Small Category

Arlington Farmers Market, Arlington, Washington

King George Farmers Market Manager

The Arlington Farmers' Market is led by a grassroots, volunteer-run organization in the small northwestern town of Arlington in Washington State. They hand-paint sandwich boards with directions to the market, attend city meetings to cultivate a presence in the community, and look everywhere--even their own kids' rooms--for books to read at a story time in the park.

The market offers growers a unique opportunity to sell to residents. As most grocery stores in the area only purchase food from large growers, the smaller, local farms can use the market downtown as a chance to expand their customer base and it provides an outlet for sales. 

"Most importantly, it's a community gathering space," Audrey Houston, who serves as the market director, explained. "There aren't too many places in our culture these days where you can bump into your fellow residents without paying an entrance fee. If you stand in the middle of the market, you'll hear neighbors greeting each other, friends grabbing some fruit for a picnic at the park, and a lot of laughter."

On any given Saturday during the market, some 800 people will shop at the 13 or so vendors. More vendors join during berry season, but there's always a variety of goods for the happy shoppers. Residents build relationships with the growers and many parents say they are glad they have the chance to model a healthy lifestyle to their kids by shopping for vegetables, spending time outside, and getting their kids engaged in story time and the free activities.  

The grassroots effort of organizing the market has paid off with the award of best small farmers market. Houston said it's helped create a buzz in Arlington and the surrounding communities. Organizers plan to build on this success and add new vendors next year, including meat, dairy, prepared foods, and even more farmers. 


Medium Category

Winter Garden Farmers Market, Winter Garden, Florida

AFT President Jon Scholl at Champaign County Farmers Market

Set in the charming city center, the Winter Garden Farmers Market offers residents a chance to interact with local farmers and learn about their food.

“The market is about four years old”, said Shannon Heron, project manager. "It has moved around to different locations but now has a perfect spot near the pavilion and bike paths…it's really an incredible location."

You can find just about anything at the Winter Garden Farmers Market, from fresh produce, organic meats and eggs, and goods made from locally grown foods. Florida is renowned for its citrus, so you don't have to look far at the market to find your favorite variety of oranges, lemons, or tangerines.

On Saturdays at the market you'll find kids playing in the newly installed splash pad to stay cool, dog owners shopping for pet treats, and families enjoying freshly squeezed juice from local citrus.  "It's a really friendly, open sort of vibe," Heron said. 

To celebrate the award from American Farmland Trust, one of the local farmers hosted a corn harvest festival. It gave residents a chance to see where their food is produced and celebrate the fall harvest with tractor rides and a corn maze.

The organizers will continue to come up with interesting ways to promote their local growers and encourage the community to come out and enjoy the wide assortment of goods and food offered at the market. The goal is to build off the success from winning the America's Favorite Farmers Market award and continue to encourage residents to support the local farmers. 


Mid-sized Category

Sulphur Springs Texas Farmers Market, Sulphur Springs, Texas

Falls Church Farmers Market Vendor

"We are all very excited about the award," said Shane Shepard, Community Development Director, City of Sulphur Springs. "We felt we would be a winning contender." 

Located about an hour east of Dallas, the rural area of Sulphur Springs, TX is peppered with markets. Fresh strawberries, watermelons, pumpkins, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peaches are ripe in season and area farmers are quick to show off their favorite picks of the week. 

The Sulphur Springs Farmers Market offers a unique shopping experience in the revitalized downtown. Four years ago, the city started a revitalization project of the downtown district modeled on new urbanism, with narrower streets and more walking areas. Part of the project created shopping neighborhoods designed for foot traffic, perfect for a downtown farmers market.

In an effort to help farmers sell at two local markets on the same day, organizers at Sulphur Springs host their market on Saturday evenings. With live music playing during the warm Texas evenings, it's not uncommon for the hours to extend into midnight.

Given the rural proximity, residents must travel quite a distance for healthy food. Fortunatley, the market provides numerous venues that allow residents the opportunity to buy healthy food straight from growers. 

"This is our way of getting healthy food to consumers," Shepard said.

With an award under their belts, organizers are hoping to build on their momentum and be an even more defining part of the community. Sulphur Springs Texas Farmers Market is hoping to partner with other local markets to create a coalition to provide more customers access to healthy foods. 

 

Large Category

Fayetteville Farmers Market, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Rochester Public Market

"What began as a place for people to access local food has become the place to be on Saturday morning," said Lori Boatright, the market's Public & Media Coordinator. "The community has a very special place in their heart for the market. The market is also proud of our community partnerships with the city and with other area businesses and non-profits."

The Fayetteville Farmers Market was founded nearly 40 years ago by a group of active farmers and gardeners looking for an opportunity to sell their goods to the community in the third largest city in Arkansas. The group worked with the community and formed a partnership with the city to host a farmers market on the downtown city square.

Now with four markets a week and more than 100 vendors, the Fayetteville market draws over 250,000 visitors eager to purchase local food. The market serves as a regular community event and a gathering location for residents. It's the place to be on a Saturday morning.

The Saturday market is known as the "Crown Jewel of Fayetteville," and comes to life with street performers on every corner, local musicians, and community organizations and politicians promoting their projects and positions.

Market organizers work hard to raise awareness of food insecurity in the community while vendors have donated more than 20,000 pounds of produce this season to local food pantries and kitchens. The market also plays an important role in the economic development of the community with monies spent in the community staying in the community.

"We are so proud to be America's Favorite Farmers' Market," Boatright said. "We hope that this title assists us in bringing even more awareness to small scale agriculture and its place in our communities." Market organizers are also looking to expand opportunities to offer customers in other parts of town access to locally grown food.


America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™
Top 20

Small

Arlington Farmers Market, Arlington, Washington

Putnam Farmers Market, Hurricane, WV

Farmers Market in Hershey, Hummelstown, PA

Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks Farmers Market, Fayetteville, AR

Broomfield Farmers Market at Holy Comforter, Broomfield, CO

32nd Street/Waverly Farmers Market, Baltimore, MD

Cheverly Community Market, Cheverly, MD

Ruston Farmers Market, Ruston, LA

Skowhegan Farmers Market, Skowhegan, ME

Stuart Farmers Market, Stuart, VA

Farmers Market at the Filling Station, Anderson, SC

The Market at Saint Monicas, Cantonment, FL

Glover Park - Burleith Farmers Market, Washington, DC

Eureka Springs Farmers Market, Eureka Springs, AR

Bridgeport Farmers Market, Bridgeport, WV

Hartfords North End Farmers Market, Hartford, CT

Vienna Saturday Farmers Market, Vienna, VA

Montevallo Farmers Market, Montevallo, AL

The Grant Park Farmers Market, Atlanta, GA

Burrillville Farmers Market, Harrisville, RI

Medium

Winter Garden Farmers Market, Winter Garden, FL

Snellville Farmers Market, Snellville, GA

Williamsburg Farmers Market, Williamsburg, VA

Falls Church Farmers Market, Falls Church, VA

Woodstock Farmers Market NFP, Woodstock, IL

Coventry Regional Farmers Market, Coventry, CT

CitySeed Farmers Market, New Haven, CT

Riverside Farmers Market, Roswell, GA

Downtown Lees Summit Farmers Market, Lees Summit, MO

Moraga Farmers Market, Moraga, CA

Saratoga Farmers Market, Saratoga Springs, NY

Atherton Farmers Market, Charlotte, NC

Tower Grove Farmers Market, St. Louis, MO

Historic Lewes Farmers Market, Lewes, DE

Logan Square Farmers Market, Chicago, IL

SKY Farmers Market, Smith Grove, KY

St. Andrews Waterfront Farmers Market, Panama City, FL

Norman Farmers Market, Norman, OK

Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market, Rehoboth Beach, DE

Kennebunk Farmers Market, Kennebunk, ME

Mid-sized

Sulphur Springs Texas Farmers Market, Sulphur Springs, TX

Lakeside Farmers Market, Henrico/Richmond, VA

McKinney Farmers Market - Chestnut Square, McKinney, TX

Grand Prairie Farmers Market, Grand Prairie, TX

Nacogdoches Farmers Market, Nacogdoches, TX

Friday Night Farmers Market, North Beach, MD

The Farmers Market in the Holly Springs Village, Holly Springs, NC

Chestertown Farmers Market, Chestertown, MD

West Windsor Community Farmers Market, West Windsor, NJ

Bozrah Farmers Market, Bozrah, CT

Collingswood Farmers Market, Collingswood, NJ

West Frederick Farmers Market, Frederick, MD

Bluegrass Farmers Market, Lexington, KY

3rd and Curry Street Farmers Market, Carson City, NV

Glenwood Sunday Market, Chicago, IL

Winnsboro Farmers Market, Winnsboro, TX

German Coast Farmers Market, Destrehan, LA

Mount Holly Farmers Market, Mount Holly, NC

Farmers Market at Bluffton, Bluffton, SC

Community Farmers Market Bowling Green, Bowling Green, KY

Large

Fayetteville Farmers Market, Fayetteville, AR

Las Cruces Farmers & Craft Market, Las Cruces, NM

Baltimore Farmers Market, Baltimore, MD

St. Paul Farmers Market, St. Paul, MN

Hernando Farmers Market, Hernando, MS

Shreveport Farmers Market, Shreveport, LA

Kenosha Harbor Market, Kenosha, WI

Lexington Farmers Market, Lexington, KY

Aptos Farmers Market, Aptos, CA

Palafox Market, Pensacola, FL

Bentonville Farmers Market, Bentonville, AR

Ballard Farmers Market, Seattle, WA

Orlando Farmers Market at Lake Eola, Orlando, FL

Muskegon Farmers Market, Muskegon, MI

Burlington Farmers Market, Burlington, VT

Eagan Market Fest, Eagan, MN

Iowa City Farmers Market, Iowa City, IA

Haleiwa Farmers Market, Haleiwa, HI

Clarksville Downtown Farmers Market, Clarksville, TN

Omaha Farmers Market, Omaha, NE