Farmers markets grow community

Farmers markets grow community

A scientific study once determined something a lot of us have already discovered: 10 times as many conversations happen at a farmer’s market than at the supermarket. Sure it might be convenient to grab a bag of apples that traveled by truck from 2,000 miles away and then hurry on to the next aisle to pick up some Scotch tape and dog treats at the end of your hectic workday. But farmer’s markets are appointment shopping.

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You can discover the simple joys of an heirloom tomato picked that morning and talk to the farmer who picked it. That same farmer might have advice as to how to save the seeds from that sun-drenched fruit so you can start a small kitchen garden.

When cities haven’t done the best job of creating walkable, complete streets, farmers markets provide the cure for the common case of social isolation. In areas where fresh produce is hard to come by, farmers markets can bring nutrition into so-called food deserts one day a week.

Farmers markets bring vibrant energy to grassy campuses, parking lots, alleyways and stadiums. Budding entrepreneurs can test the waters and see if their knitting crafts will be met with enthusiasm and supplement their income. Surrounding businesses benefit from the traffic. In addition to produce, attendees are often able to shop for gifts, cut flowers and local honey while taking in some entertainment. One local Fort Myers market even offers free weekly yoga classes.

As people become more invested in knowing where their food comes from, farmers remain the major draw. But along with those tomatoes, they also grow community.

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