America’s Top 20 Farmers’ Markets: 2012

This annual list will point you to the best farmers’ markets in America.

By Emily Main

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The Best Farmers' Markets of 2012Big or small, farmers’ markets attract a devoted following of foodies and locavores, whether they operate year-round or just a few months in the summer. And, as it does every year about this time, the American Farmland Trust has just revealed which ones get the most love from those diehard shoppers. The nonprofit, which works to preserve farmland and promote local food, has published its annual list of America’s Favorite Farmers’ Markets, which were voted on by 47,000 people.  

According to USDA figures, there are just over 7,800 farmers’ markets operating in the U.S.—nearly a 10 percent increase from last year. “Farmers’ markets are a critical ingredient to our nation’s food system,” said Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan in a release. “These outlets provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also to the communities looking for fresh, healthy foods.”

But these markets are more than just a place to find fresh local food. A report released by the nonprofit Community Food Security Coalition found that farmers’ markets can lead to millions in economic revenue for states and communities. The report cites examples like Iowa, where studies have shown that markets can contribute as much as $59 million and 500 jobs to the state’s economy, and New Orleans, where a single market pumped $9.88 million into the regional economy in 2009.

That’s not news to Woody Tasch, founder of the Slow Money Alliance, a nongovernmental investment organization that encourages people to take their money out of Wall Street and invest it in local, sustainable food operations. "We need more food, we need more farms, and we need to put money into something that’s sustainable,” he told Rodale.com in 2011.

Whatever it is that people love about their farmers’ markets, the markets are getting a lot of love. Here’s American Farmland Trust’s list of the top five markets in each of the organization’s four categories, based on market size:

Small Markets (15 or fewer vendors)
Arlington Farmers Market, Arlington, WA
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 Episcopal Church, Broomfield, CO

Mid-Sized Markets (16–30 vendors)
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

Medium Markets (31–55 vendors)
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

Large Markets (56+ vendors)
Fayetteville Farmers Market, Fayetteville, AR
Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market, Las Cruces, NM
St. Paul Farmers Market, St. Paul, MN
Baltimore Farmers Market, Baltimore, MD
Hernando Farmers Market, Hernando, MS

For the complete list of farmers’ markets in each category, visit www.farmland.org. You can also see which are the most popular markets in your state.
 

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