American Farmland Trust has announced the winners of its 12th annual Farmers Market Celebration — recognizing the leading market in each region of the country and awarding cash prizes to the winners of the “People’s Choice” awards for markets with the most endorsements nationwide. More than 1,250 markets participated in the celebration with the total number of votes up 350% over 2019, demonstrating the critical role farmers markets have continued to play in feeding Americas throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
When the coronavirus pandemic began back in March there was real concern that markets wouldn’t be able to operate at all this year. The vast majority of markets in America found a way to operate safely — whether that meant holding a drive-thru market or requiring shoppers to pre-order goods from their local farmers for pick-up. It has been truly inspiring to witness the way markets have served as a centerpiece of food access in their communities during the pandemic.
This season has been one to remember and there’s no better way to thank the farm vendors and the market managers and staff for all their hard work than to provide them the recognition they deserve and a little help to defray the costs of this incredibly difficult season.
People’s Choice Winners
- Clarksville Downtown Market, Clarksville, TN – Awarded $1000
- Charlottesville City Market, Charlottesville, VA — Awarded $500
- Boise Farmers Market, Boise, Idaho — Awarded $250
Here’s what marketgoers had to say about the winning markets:
Clarksville Downtown Market
“First, as a consumer, this market has been a blessing to shop at since it provides farm fresh, locally grown produce from farms I see as I travel in my town. Having all of this in one location and run with such great efficiency is the reason I would vote this as my favorite Farmer’s Market!
“Secondly, as a first-time vendor, this Market has been a boon to our growth and credibility. With such low overhead amid a fantastic venue, coupled with friendly and helpful staff, I couldn’t imagine running my business without participating every year. We have had such a great experience as both consumers and vendors. Way to go Clarksville!”
Charlottesville City Market
“The Charlottesville City Market is an incredible place! Many vendors with organic produce are available, along with many cheese producers as well. It is a place where International foods are available and some of the best bakery items in Charlottesville are available. The vendors are very friendly and love to chat with you. It is definitely a great community to be part of.”
Boise Farmer’s Market
“These folks pivoted on a dime due to COVID-19 in order to keep bring local grown, high quality food to their customers. These farmers are all essential workers!”
“Boise Farmers Market Drive-thru is the next best thing to being there! While I miss the ambience of the open-air market, the quality of the foods delivered to my car is outstanding and keeps me coming back week after week. The system for pick up usually works beautifully and efficiently!”
Regional Award Winners
- Northeast: Ligonier Country Market — Ligonier, PA
- Midwest: Tuscarawas Valley Market — Dover, Ohio
- Pacific: Boise Farmers Market — Boise Idaho
- Southeast: Clarksville Downtown Market — Clarksville, TN
- Southwest: Winnsboro Farmers Market — Winnsboro, TX
The pandemic made it clear that local food systems with short supply chains are resilient and dependable in making food available to their communities. When the crisis hit everyone had to scramble to accommodate the changing requirements to keep customers safe. Market operators were some of the first to implement innovative strategies to change their operations around public health protocols. What’s more, emerging research supports conventional wisdom that outdoor marketplaces are often safer than indoor retailers because there is air circul ation, sunlight and the flexibility to enforce social distancing.
In 2020 it has been become clear: America’s farmers markets are more important than ever.