As the 13th annual America’s Farmers Market Celebration wraps up this week, American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition announced the winners of the event. More than 2,000 markets across the nation participated in the celebration in 2021 with over 1 million supporters engaged through voting, visiting the celebration website, and engaging with the celebration on social media.
Markets receiving the most votes from the public are declared winners of the “People’s Choice” category, as well as recognized as top markets in five regions nationwide.
“We are constantly inspired by the dedicated farmers market operators around the country who have worked so hard to continue to provide essential services for their communities, despite the monumental challenges of the past year,” said Ben Feldman, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition.
Since 2008, the America’s Farmers Market Celebration has highlighted the important role farmers markets play in American communities and our larger food system. Farmers markets are on the leading edge of educating consumers about where food comes from. They foster direct relationships between community members and farmers to help create a more fair, sustainable and just food system. Participating in the celebration is a way for people to come together and support their communities and local food producers.
People’s Choice Winners
The “People’s Choice” category awards $2,500 for first, $1,500 for second and $1,000 for third. These funds are awarded to markets for marketing, communications, and other needs that help expand the market’s reach and impact.
1. Columbia Farmers Market — Columbia, MO
“I’m constantly blown away by the support our community shows our producer-only farmers market. Being open since 1980, I always tell folks that ‘we were local, before local was a trend’. The mid-Missouri community keeps coming back year-round Saturday after Saturday supporting our 80+ vendors, keeping us open during the pandemic, donating over $5.8 million towards Columbia’s Agriculture Park, and now voting us into this #1 recognition. We really do have the best market community. We can’t say thank you enough, to everyone that has helped our farmers market get to where we are today,” said Corrina Smith, Executive Director for Columbia Farmers Market and Sustainable Farms and Communities
2. Oxford Community Market — Oxford, MS
“We are of course thrilled and proud of our 2nd place win, but the real prize is now being connected to markets across the country who are doing amazing local food systems work. Through the contest, we had the opportunity to learn about and get ideas from the great things these markets are doing in their communities,” said Betsy Chapman, Oxford Community Market Director
Chapman continued, “The contest, aside from being a heck of a lot of fun and quite a wild ride at some points along the way, was just really great publicity for our little market and really brought our community of supporters together. We gained many new social media followers and got a lot of engagement from University of Mississippi students, which has been one of our marketing goals. The contest helped is strengthen our communication channels and allowed us to have some creative marketing fun too.”
3. Monroe Farmers Market — Monroe, CT
Kelly Plunkett, Market Manager Monroe Farmers’ Market said, “Monroe, CT is a small town with a huge heart and this competition affirmed to our community just how much they love their Farmers’ Market! Our 13th season has proven that the market is a town treasure as our residents were fully engaged in the voting process and eagerly anticipated the final results. We are so grateful that our customers appreciate our mission of remaining a traditional farmers’ market with focus on promoting agriculture in various forms and remaining a CT Grown Market. Throughout the season we pay tribute to our eight farmers, bakers and specialty vendors by hosting fun events for all ages that promote a sense of community and showcase our towns many talents. It’s not every market that can pull off a Gender Reveal party, Grandparents Day, a flash mob, and a highly anticipated Tater Fest all in one season, but our customers expect nothing less every Friday!”
Regional Award Winners:
- Northeast: Monroe Farmers Market, Monroe, CT
- Midwest: Columbia Farmers Market, Columbia, MO
- Pacific: Napa Farmers Market, Napa, CA
- Southeast: Oxford Community Market, Oxford, MS
- Southwest: Dripping Springs Farmers Market, Dripping Springs, TX
“Farmers markets have played an important part in my life over the past 15 years as both a vendor and a consumer,” said Greg Plotkin, Deputy Director of Digital Communications at AFT. “I’m honored that the celebration can play a small role in raising the profile of many markets across the country that so often don’t receive the recognition they rightfully deserve. I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to everyone who helped us choose America’s favorite farmers markets of 2021.”