Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

(US) National Farmers Market Week: August 4th - 10th (slightly updated)

Sunday starts National Farmers Market Week, which provides another excuse for you to go to a farmers market.

Notions Capital calls our attention to this article from Slate, "Fight the Farmers Market Backlash."  The headline is somewhat misleading.  The article mostly discusses public markets--buildings that house markets, like Eastern Market in DC or Tokyo's --and how market functions (think NYC's Meatpacking District, which is now a hip place to live) get displaced over time as real estate values rise.

But it also discusses the positive elements around markets, in terms of strengthening quality of life (and not so much about how selling direct allows farmers to make more money).

And I came across this report from the Kellogg Foundation, Perceptions of the U.S. Food System: What and How Americans Think about their Food. (I haven't read it yet.)

I have a past blog entry on reasons why communities create farmers markets here, "The reason(s) why a farmers market is created shapes the type and mix of vendors allowed to sell."

I wish that DC did more focused food security and food market planning and coordination than it does. 

Toronto's Food Policy Council is a good model for what can be done in this arena, although many other communities have set up similar food policy councils, following the example of Toronto.

The Neighborhood Notes blog in Portland has a good entry on creating successful farmers markets, "Ingredients of a successful farmers market," which references this market study of farmers markets, Portland Farmers Markets/Direct-Market Economic Analysis: Characteristics of Successful Farmers Markets.

One thing going on with farmers markets and real estate these days is "activation," the process by which property owners "program" their property to get visitor-customers.

For example, DC's Union Market started a Sunday Farmers Market a couple weeks ago (although I was surprised that even though it is a FreshFARM market which tends to be organic and therefore extremely expensive, some of the vendors--most sold added value items, not produce--had reasonable pricing) and the Washington Business Journal reports a similar case, "Temporary farmer's market eyed for prime U Street real estate.

One of the problems of such efforts is that this can lead to a over-availability of markets.  For the amount of sales, DC actually has more markets than are probably supportable.  Contrast this to Baltimore, which has fewer markets, but each one is much bigger, with greater variety, and less expensive food, compared to DC markets.
National Farmers Market Week Kickoff this Weekend in D.C.

The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, Wholesome Wave and D.C. Greens will host a press conference on August 3rd at 10:00 am (at the farmers market, on 14th and Park Streets NW) where the USDA will announce the 2013 farmers market numbers. Every year, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service issues updates to the USDA National Farmers Market Directory, tracking the number of farmers markets in the United States. The directory also documents how many markets are offering electronic benefit transfer access for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers, and how many accept WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) coupons.

-- National Farmers Market Coalition blog entries tagged National Farmers Market Week

Below is a great infographic on Farmers Markets from the American Farmland Trust, which was created as part of their "I Love My Farmers Market" campaign.

I Love My Farmers Market Infographic

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At 12:05 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

is "prepared" food in DC farmers market taxed at 10%? Or is that just overlooked.

I must admit I'm not a fan, mostly because I can't afford it. When in season some of the stuff tastes better but when it is season the local supermaket also has pretty good stuff.

So i've always put it down to 80% posing/ 20% value which is what I call the Hipster value proposition. (80% of craft beeers are junk, 20% are great).

Isn't the U st location where that new york flea operation is going?

Perhaps the MRP/Ellis/Fundraise proposal could have a permament farmers market, but probably end up with a union market style situation again.

And again, check out glen's organic market. Impressed with that one. Big prepared food section and excellent quality. They could beat WF.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

1. probably overlooked.
2. I agree about the pricing. Baltimore markets are much better. Note that a couple vendors at Takoma market sell "seconds" which is a good way to deal with USDA "market orders."

I mostly buy that--99 cents/lb for peaches, tomatoes, and cukes, vs. the regular prices being much higher.

Even damaged ones can be good for cooking, gazpacho, etc.

3. a dif. form of the 80/20 rule... the other element is "activation" which is another issue, something I want to write about too. We can't activate every f*ing place. And how much crap do we really need to buy anyway?

This is one of the problems with the Main St. commercial district revitalization approach, because one of the only ways to fill up storefronts is with craft-y, boutique-y, gift-y stuff that we don't really need, and you need a lot of potential customers to be able to sell some of it--I've written about this before in the context of the Culture Shop in Takoma, which is now defunct. They blamed the area residents for "not supporting them" when the reality is how many times a year do you buy that kind of stuff and where do you buy it--you aren't going to patronize one particular store exclusively.

4. didn't know that the flea market was moving to that location. Frankly, most of the stuff at that market is/was crap. (see previous item)

5. I do make the argument that market type operations can be effected to do what the MRP/Ellis proposal includes. cf. Belvedere Square in Baltimore, which is the equivalent.

6. went to glen's yesterday. I liked it, but it doesn't replace a grocery store. a store worker came up to me to see if I needed help, and we talked a lot, and I ended up buying stuff I might not have if she hadn't braced me. But the artisan products are way more expensive than I like to pay for stuff.

But they probably make money off their bar area more than anything, even more than the prepared food counter. I wanted to try their watermelon + lemon + wheat beer concoction.

b. will go back, with S, after her September hair appt. (at a place on 14th St.). (I guess my nights out aren't that exciting.)

At 11:03 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Great point about "activation."

In terms of glen's, the alcohol sales enable them to continue offering a (expensive) high value organics, which is a net benefit for everyone. Much like Dean and Deluca in Georgetown.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Another thing I forgot. Technically, I don't think you can sell prepared foods at a farmers market. Added value foods (like pickles) aren't considered prepared. So the tax issue isn't triggered.


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