Stat: 3 million people visit farmer’s markets, large or small, highly organized or impromptu on the roadside, per week. According to the Agriculture Marketing Service, a branch of the USDA, that comes to an estimated 14 million visitors annually. When one stops to think that most of the nation’s 4,685 markets are seasonal and that direct sales from farmer to consumer account for only a 0.4% share of a $300 billion a year commodity sales market, it makes one wonder if there has been any progress in the the farm-to-table movement at all.
There are local markets that have organized themselves in such a way so as to not only increase profits for the farmers, promote healthier dietary choices, protect the environment, etc., but have also dismantled the market model and reassembled it in a more efficient, clean and productive way.
One of the more notable of these markets can be found in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is run by the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Institute (SFFMI).
Heavy with the foods of the Southwest (chilies galore) the Santa Fe Market also has some of the most diverse specialty purveyors in the country. From Heidi’s Organic Raspberry Farm, makers of raspberry/chili/ginger jams, to Purple Adobe Lavender Farm, to Second Bloom Farm specializing in all manner of product made from the milk of the goats they care for, to Harmony Farms who are about as at-one with their land as a person can get. Their are also numerous small-lot farmers who come to market twice weekly with small batches of whatever is fresh and ripe on that day. Many of the purveyors are at the edge of their fields, no pun intended, when it comes to sustainability, diversity of products and innovation.
Another element that makes the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market unique is its home. Prior to its construction members of the Institute outlined their goal for a building that is energy efficient and constructed using mainly recycled or local materials.
Here are some of the stats provided by Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Institute:
The 25,311 square foot structure provides 26% energy savings by use.
It uses 40% less water than comparable structures.
Water is heated by solar power which saves the SFFMI about $12,200 a year.
56% of the materials used in construction were recycled.
45% of the materials used came from local/regional materials to promote economic development.
The building is also utilizes a “green housekeeping” policy, using only safe, nontoxic cleaning products.
This year the SFFMI received the LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC). The certification is given to structures that meet or surpass the USGBC’s requirements for design and construction of the world’s greenest, most energy efficient and high performing buildings.
To find a farmers market in your area visit Local Harvest online and use their easy locator tool. Just type in the name of your town or the town you are visiting and it gives you all markets in that area.