American Farmland Trust’s (AFT) 12th Annual Farmers Market Celebration showcases farmers markets across the United States that are making a difference in their communities. Supporters and customers of farmers markets recently voted for the most essential market in their community, with more than 1,250 farmers participating in AFT’s celebration of American farmers markets.
This year, AFT offered new cash prizes to the top three markets that received the most votes in its 2020 celebration. After a tight race, AFT recognized the Clarksville Downtown Market in Tennessee as the top market, awarding the $1,000 prize to the farmers market in Clarksville, Tennessee, the state’s fifth-largest city, with an estimated population just under 160,000 (behind Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga).
The Clarksville Downtown Market is a weekly open-air market featuring local farmers and artisans who offer locally-grown fresh produce, food items, and handcrafted products. The Market has been running May through October each year since 2009. This Tennessee city’s Parks & Recreation Department operates and promotes the market.
The Charlottesville City Market in Virginia, established in 1973, came in second in the voting and took home the $500.00 AFT prize. Due to the pandemic, the Charlottesville City Market transitioned to a pre-order and pick-up market.
Renamed during this challenging period as Charlottesville City Market To Go, the market set up a drive thru pickup with pre-ordering and online payment from 10:00AM Monday morning to 10:00AM Thursday morning before pickup on the following Saturday 8:00AM-12:00PM. This year-round market in the historic Virginia city, which is home to the University of Virginia and a gateway to Shenandoah National Park, late last winter had to close the operation of its indoor market at a recreational facility operated by Charlottesville Parks & Recreation.
The Boise Farmers Market in Idaho’s capital city rounded out the top three markets, claiming the $250.00 prize. This seasonal market that runs from early April to late October, has coined an impressive motto for its operation: Farmers You Can Trust. Food You Can Trace. And it describes its Mission in praiseworthy terms on its Facebook page: The Boise Farmers Market supports a regenerative, healthy food and agricultural system by operating a vibrant marketplace featuring locally grown and crafted products.
Rounding out the top five vote-getters nationwide in 2020 are the 3rd Street Farmers Market in Tompkinsville, Kentucky in fourth position, and the Napa Farmers Market in Napa, California came in fifth. AFT also notes on-line, the top five vote-getters by region: Midwest, Northeast, Pacific, Southeast, and Southwest.
The top five vote-getters in the Midwest in 2020 are (1) Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market in Dover, Ohio; (2) Worthington Farmers Market in Worthington, Ohio; (3) Davison Farmers Market in Davison, Michigan; (4) 3rd Day Farmers Market in Lake City, Michigan; and (5) Dubuque Farmers Market in Dubuque, Iowa.
In the Northeast, the top five vote-getters in 2020 are (1) Ligonier Country Market in Ligonier, Pennsylvania; (2) Troy Waterfront Farmers Market in Troy, New York, (3) Duke Farms Market in Hillsborough, New Jersey; (4) West Windsor Community Farmers Market in West Windsor, New Jersey; and (5) Cooperstown Farmers Market in Cooperstown, New York.
In the Pacific, the top five vote-getters in 2020 are (1) Boise Farmers Market in Boise, Idaho; (2) Napa Farmers Market in Napa, California; (3) Moscow Farmers Market in Moscow, Idaho; (4) Vancouver Farmers Market in Vancouver, Washington; and (5) Kaka’ako Farmers Market in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In the Southeast, the top five vote-getters in 2020 are (1) Clarksville Downtown Farmers Market in Clarksville, Tennessee; (2) Charlottesville City Market in Charlottesville, Virginia; (3) 3rd Street Farmers Market in Tompkinsville, Kentucky; (4) Fort Thomas Farmers Market in Fort Thomas, Kentucky; and (5) Shreveport Farmers Market in Shreveport, Louisiana.
In the Southwest, the top five vote-getters in 2020 are (1) Grand Prairie Farmers Market in Grand Prairie, Texas; (2) Winnsboro Farmers Market in Winnsboro, Texas; (3) Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces in Las Cruces, New Mexico; (4) Waco Downtown Farmers Market in Waco, Texas; and (5) Boulder County Farmers Markets in Boulder, Colorado.
Across the Hudson River from my hometown of Albany in upstate New York is the destination farmers market for the Capital Region, the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market, which was the AFT’s 2019 People’s Choice Award farmers market. And in 2020 although it did not finish in the top five markets nationwide, it did garner enough votes to finish second in the Northeast Region as noted above. And this upstate New York year-round market has found a creative and well-planned way to sustain its operations during the pandemic. For the coming winter, it has brought life back to a former Price Chopper supermarket in the Lansingburgh section of Troy (Rensselaer County) that has not been part of this small river city’s renaissance, centered mostly in its downtown.
We join American Farmland Trust’s president John Piotti by echoing his words that gratitude is owed to farmers, farmers market managers and staff across the country for their hard work during this incredibly difficult season to help keep our citizens healthy with fresh, local food. It has taken much careful planning and work for farmers markets to continue operating in 2020 and onward during the pandemic.
For example, the Troy Waterfront Market greets customers with these guidelines for its winter operation indoors at a former supermarket’s location: Masks Must Be Worn; Follow One Way System; Six Feet Social Distancing; No Food/Drink Consumer In Market; No Dogs Allowed; No Public Restrooms.
And as a closing note, always good for consumers to keep in mind that spending dollars on local food at a farmers market means that more of the consumer dollar goes directly to the farmers who grow a consumer’s food. We reported earlier in a post that according to AFT: For every $10.00 spent at a farmers market, studies show that as much as $7.80 is re-spent in your community supporting local jobs and businesses.
(Frank W. Barrie, 12/10/20)