12:36pm

Tue August 16, 2011
Farming & Business

Farmers Markets Grow Nationally, in Colorado

New figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that farmers markets are becoming more common across the country – and Colorado is among the top five states seeing growth over the past year. 

More than a thousand new farmers markets have opened stalls across the United States, according to the 2011 National Farmers Market Directory.  Some see the growing popularity as a reflection of a nationwide interest in food quality; and part of that is knowing where - and how - that food is produced.

“Even in today’s society where we tend to not have a lot of face-to-face relationships, you know, with all the electronic communications we do – food is a very personal thing to a lot of people,” says Karen Scopel, a natural resources planner with the city of Greeley.  “So I think being able to make that personal relationship with the person growing your food is important.”

Although items at a farmers market usually costs the same or more compared with a typical grocery store, Scopel says people are willing to pay for produce that is often fresher, with better nutritional value that is part of a local food system. And there’s more to the appeal than just the produce, Scopel adds.

“One of the things that’s so enticing about farmers markets to a lot of people, it’s not just a place to go buy food – it’s a community gathering place. Unlike a grocery store, you know, you might run into a friend or two at the store, but you’re there to buy groceries. But when you come to the farmers market, you’re there, really, as an event.”

Colorado ranks third among states for growth – with 130 recorded farmers markets, a 38% increase from last year.  The annual directory reports a total of 7,175 markets operating across the U.S., up from 6,132 last year.