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A Brief History of Farmers’ Markets

Hello all! Last week was a wonderful market day and we are so thankful for your continued support! Our farmers' market wouldn't be here without all of you, and especially not without our farmers and producers who we are so blessed to be surrounded by. It got me thinking about farmers' markets in general - where do they come from, and how did they start? Farmers' Markets are such an essential part of our food systems, bringing food from our farmers directly to our tables, and I can't imagine a time without them or a reason they wouldn't be popular, but that is in fact the case! If you're interested in this as well, read below for a brief history on farmers' markets! As always, the list of who will be at the market this Saturday is at the bottom. See you then!

History of Farmers' Markets

Farmers’ Markets are said to have originated in Egypt over 5000 years ago. Farmers and craftsmen met in urban spaces to sell their goods. Purchases were usually trades rather than money transactions, and goods were said to have been valued by weight.

The first Farmers’ Markets in North America are dated back to the 1600’s. Markets were the primary means for urban customers to access meats, dairy, and fresh produce. These markets were significant economic operations and attracted many people into city centers.

In the 1800’s and 1900’s, farmers’ markets were not only important for economic success, but also social interaction as it was often the only means for rural and urban community members to meet.

Farmers’ Markets remained the central means of buying and selling food until the beginning of the 1900’s, with decreasing control and increasing competition in the food systems.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, with improved roads and high-speed transportation, and also with the influx of grocery stores, farmers’ markets began to disappear. It was estimated that in the 1990’s, food in the United States traveled an average of 1300 miles and changed hands 6 times before being eaten.

However, in the 1970’s, farmers’ markets became increasingly more popular again and more and more farmers’ markets began to appear! In Alberta, from 1974 to 1998, the number of registered farmers’ markets went from only 16 to 115. That’s an increase of over 600 percent!!

WHY? Well, that question can be answered by asking why WE shop at farmers’ markets. Farmers’ Markets provide the combined benefit of high quality, fresh products and a social atmosphere. Customers who are concerned about food safety can ask questions about production practices, farming techniques, and business policies. In large cities, the farmers’ market may be the only access to fresh produce for low income, inner city residents. Farmers’ Markets are also excellent educational tools concerning our local economies, farming in general, food systems, environmental issues relating to food production, and general knowledge on food: how to prepare it, eat it and more.

Our vendors are proud to be part of this rich history of making sure we are fed and nourished! As you know, and as we always say, our vendors grow it, raise it, make it and bake it – they have the answers to your questions and are proud of their answers and thankful for your interest. Make sure to ask your questions this Saturday at the market. We’ll see you there!

Who Can You Find at the Farmers' Market this Saturday?

This is the list, folks! See who you can find at the Farmers’ Market this Saturday, September 19th! Click on their names to find information on pre-orders and to learn more about their farms and businesses!

Check out their websites for more information about their products and to see what’s in season/currently available!

Live Music (10 a.m. to 12 p.m.): Donald Waugh

Monday to Saturday: 8am - 6pm