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Farmers Market Trends

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 03:23:31 AM PDT

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The USDA recently published a report showing farmers markets trends. This site here says that a recent report came out but the link they have isn't working for me, nor can I find the report on the USDA site. I emailed a friend at USDA to see if she knows where I can get the full 112 pg report, but in the meantime, check out these stats about farmers markets...

  • 88% of farmers markets are seasonal, not year-round
  • The average seasonal farmers' market runs for 4.5 months.
  • The most successful markets financially are located in urban areas (vs. rural areas) and on the coasts (vs. in the center of the country).
  • The longer a market is open during the year, the better they do in terms of number of vendors, monthly sales, and weekly customers.

Market Season LengthAvg # of VendorsMonthly SalesWeekly Customers
Seasonal, 6 mos or less25$20,770565
Seasonal, 7 mos or more51$57,290942
Year round58$69,4973578

UPDATE: From the kind people at USDA... they are working as we speak to put it on their website. It will be up at when it is posted, which will likely be later this morning.

UPDATE #2: OK, it's posted (here). Thanks, USDA! I'll read the report and write more about it later this week.

Jill Richardson :: Farmers Market Trends
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Interesting... (4.00 / 3)
Just off the top of my head, I'd guess that 33% of Portland farmers' markets operate less than 6 months a year (and those also happen to be the smallest and least popular ones here in the city); while the rest roughly operate from March or April through November or December (and get progressively more popular), and 2 markets here (People's and Hillsdale) operate year-round (People's every week all year long, Hillsdale twice a month during the winter months).

The most popular (by far!) market here is the Saturday PSU market, open mid-March through late December.

At least here, looks like things mostly back this up -

The longer a market is open during the year, the better they do in terms of number of vendors, monthly sales, and weekly customers.

But that's just anecdotal, and largely a guess based upon only what I see myself.

Wonder how that plays out for others' areas?

The 2 I go to are year round (4.00 / 3)
one is in the park by me. Nice thing about the yr round ones are items like dairy, fruit juices, eggs, meats etc. being available. They may have less vendors, but you can still get a enough items that you don't have to abandon them over the winter.  

[ Parent ]
Cheers for Farmers Markets (4.00 / 3)
I'm in a rural/tourist area of about 8000 in Utah.  Nearest largish town is 100 miles away.

Our Farmers Market runs on Saturday May though October -- that's when there is anything growing.  Too cold the rest of the year to support a market.  I'm not part of it, so don't know the amount of money made, but it is always busy.  There are also several local craftsmen there.  I'd guess average number of vendors at around 20, maybe a bit less at the beginning and end when there aren't as many crops available. Everything is local ("local" does encompass a couple of vendors from around 100 miles away).

Vendors are hampered a bit by a state law that any prepared food (in theory, even if only slightly prepared, like dried apricots dipped in chocolate) must be from a certified kitchen...hey, would these folks also have to pay the new USDA fee?

The majority of our fruit/vegetable sellers use organic practices, though none have found it cost effective to become certified.

We have one hugely successful goat cheese vendor who always runs out of cheese at the beginning of the day and takes orders for the next week.  He increased his herd this year, so he may be better able to meet demand.  

For a small fee anyone may bring their locally grown produce to the market one time (or a couple of one times).

One never runs to the Farmers Market for a quick shop here.  Too many friends and neighbors to visit with.

Will be reading this in full tomorrow at work... (4.00 / 5)
... had the day off and I hate reading this stuff on my laptop.

I can tell you that our market goes 28 consecutive weeks, averages about 65-70 vendors/weekend (this includes art and craft folks), averages 5-6K visitors/weekend, and we're smack in the middle of the midwest in a Big 10 college town. Madison, WI's market, located in another Big 10 college town, is like the gold standard for midwestern markets.

Jill, many thx for putting Urbana's market's blog on the blogroll.

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