A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the demand for farmer’s markets is on the rise. Montana is one of the states that tops the list.
Since 2008 there has been a 76% increase in markets. There are now over 8,000 markets nationally.
The farmer’s market is a place where growers can sell directly to the consumer at decent prices and a convenience.
Jerome Robideau has been growing vegetables in the same garden for nearly 50 years. He never thought about selling his produce at the Kalispell farmer’s market until this year.
“The market is good for the people and good for the vendors because you get farm fresh stuff,” Robideau said.
But why now? He says he joined the farmer’s market as a vendor not for the money, but he did it for the buyers. He claims it is better than having people shop in the stores.
“It’s better, it’s fresher and it doesn’t lay around in storage,” Robideau said.
Robideau is just one of the many vendors that joined the market this season. The Kalispell farmer’s market just keeps growing.
Robideau thinks more people are choosing to buy and sell at farmer’s markets because it’s a day in age where people worry about pesticides.
“I raised a garden without insecticides, or pesticides or any commercial fertilizer,” Robideau said.
That’s why he thinks the demand for farmer’s markets is so high. Even though he is not a certified organic, he knows his produce is chemical free.
NBC Montana talked to several people buying produce who say that could be one reason. But, residents feel it’s more about supporting local businesses.
“It gives us the opportunity to see what is grown in the Flathead Valley. I really enjoy seeing what’s out there and what I can get locally,” said Kalispell resident, Chantelle Delay.
Other shoppers agree. They say it’s not just about the farmer’s but the craftsman who sell furniture, clothes, or even jewelry. It’s about getting to know the people who make the products you’re buying.
People also come to the farmer’s market for the communal feeling.
“It’s pretty relaxed and friendly. You see people you know, you talk to them and you socialize,” Delay said.
According to the USDA report California, Ohio, Illinois and Virginia are among the states with the most reported farmer’s markets. All regions, including Montana, saw an increase in their market listings with the most growth happening in the south.
You can visit the National Farmer’s Market Directory to find a farmer's market near you.