Farmers markets are organized, scheduled, recurring gatherings where producers can sell their food products
directly to consumers. Markets can be temporary or permanent structures and on public or private property.
Farmers markets are similar to the Community
Supported Agriculture model in that they create a direct transaction between farmers and consumers, but
farmers markets require less initial investments in time from producers. For rural communities with limited
grocery options, farmers markets increase
access to fresh, local food.
Participating farmers markets accept SNAP (formerly food
stamps) and WIC benefits.
Markets must have the proper transaction
equipment to process Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and must apply for eligibility with the USDA. Some states
offer matching programs that double the benefits from
SNAP or WIC that can go toward fresh fruits and vegetables. These programs help low-income families access more
fresh produce directly from farmers.
Examples of Farmers Market Programs
The Community Food and
Agriculture Coalition of Missoula County works to increase the amount of local food in western
Montana. The coalition helps preserve farmland, train beginning farmers, and make locally grown food more
easily accessible. The coalition recently implemented a Double SNAP Dollars program to help SNAP (formerly
known as food stamps) users access more fresh, local produce. All participating organizations saw increased
sales from SNAP participants, and new customers are now able to purchase locally grown produce. The
coalition plans to continue this program and is working closely with local organizations, national
organizations such as Wholesome Wave, and SNAP users to improve and expand the program.
Farmers markets require:
- Excellent planning and organization skills
- Communication with local businesses
- Funding for marketing
- Solid relationships between producers and consumers
- Knowledge and adherence to local policies regarding operation
- Awareness of transportation, location, weather, and other barriers
Resources to Learn More
Farmers Markets as a Strategy to Improve
Access to Healthy Food for Low-Income Families and Communities
Research study about which farmers market characteristics appeal to low-income and minority shoppers.
Organization(s): Project for Public Spaces, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Columbia University
Farmers Markets in the U.S.
Map of active farmers markets in the U.S.
Organization(s): U.S. Department of Agriculture