Appalachia’s farmers markets have long created opportunities for local producers and businesses, while fostering community pride and connection at their tables. Participating producers gain experience in direct-to-consumer sales, which often helps them improve products and even scale operations to prepare for larger selling opportunities. Hosting communities and surrounding retailers economically benefit from the extra foot traffic, especially as markets attract more Appalachians, more regularly. Customers benefit from local, healthy food options and, by purchasing it, help keep their dollars closer to home.
When COVID-19 hit, the role played by farmers markets quickly elevated. Markets were deemed essential, and therefore remained open, in many areas. Creative strategies like curbside pickup and drive-through models were implemented to keep producers and consumers safe. Markets offering Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) redemption, upped the ante by partnering with local organizations to offer SNAP Double Bucks – in addition to the SNAP dollars provided by the federal government to supplement a families’ food budget, local donations doubled those benefits when purchases were made at a farmer’s market. These efforts ultimately helped combat food insecurity, keep dollars in local food systems, and provide local farmers with access to new markets.
ARC partners support farmers markets, and the larger local food systems they’re part of, to fuel both economic resilience and opportunity in communities. Learn more below and be sure to support local food in Appalachia – during National Farmers Market Week and every week.
Regional Farmers Markets at a Glance
Supporting the Region’s Farmers Markets
ACEnet: Empowering Local Food Entrepreneurs
Community Farm Alliance: Making Farmers Markets Stronger
Sprouting Farms: Supporting the Future of Farming
West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition: Growing Local Food Opportunities
Coming Soon: Local Food in Appalachia
A research report detailing the local foods landscape in Appalachia will be released this fall. The report will provide a quantitative overview of agricultural activity throughout the Region and examine how it compares to that in the rest of the country. Emerging opportunities in food systems will also be included in the report, and case studies of organizations throughout the Region will highlight best practices. The report will serve as a guide for Appalachian stakeholders looking to develop or strengthen their own local food systems.
Learn more about how to start a new farmers market in your community with these toolkits and resource libraries from our partners.