Farmers Markets – People Want MORE!
What makes a great farmers market? What will work for the farmers? How can the market attract more consumers?
European cities have used the market system for centuries and only in the past 25 years have more supermarkets been introduced and expanded. Many older kitchen spaces in Europe still only provide refrigerators that are similar to what we send to college with our kids. So, reduced cold storage requires shopping for fresh foods often. Markets are available throughout the city.
A visit to Paris in December a few years ago included several fresh markets and it was then I became convinced that West Virginia grocery stores were at the bottom of the food distribution chain. I came back and went to our BEST local supermarket and was appalled to see wilted and brown lettuce, moldy potatoes, and green tomatoes. Look at what was available in Paris at the same time!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Okay, so you think this is Paris, a huge city with a long history of gourmet cooking and gastronomic delights….so let me take you to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Granted, these personal photos are from the summer time, but there are TWO markets available in this small city of less than 30,000.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Okay, how about other cities here in the United States. I started going to farmers markets when I lived in Hartford in the 1980s. Notice the Connecticut Grown sign…..something we might want to emulate…..have the people offering food at a farmers market post where the food was raised. (I know at the Central City Farmers Market in Huntington we often have produce from North Carolina….why?)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~And on a trip to Seattle I went to the Pike Street Market….admired the guys throwing the fish of course, but also was amazed at the masses of produce and flowers and value added products in February a couple of years ago.
So this March I stopped at the Capital Market in Charleston to see what was offered. …..nothing was outside….no vendors bringing things to the market. Inside, the shops that are there, and they are nice but “from the farm” did not seem to be available.
I think we can do better. Now that I know how much food is being raised in the winter here in West Virginia, there has to be a way for consumers to easily buy it!!!
The summer farmer markets are all active now. I know that a monthly market is held through the winter in Morgantown and now Huntington will be opening the Wild Ramp which will be an indoor shop open 4 days a week.
The demand from the consumers exists and is high! Farmers–get your high tunnels up and growing! Better income ahead!