Unexpected Ways That Farmers Markets Can Benefit Public Health, Local Economies, and the Environment

A farmers market with a customer purchasing a bag of produce from a vendor.


Farmers marketers are often fun community events that are packed with local vendors, artisans, and entertainers. Along with delicious produce, customers can buy honey from local beekeepers, bread from bakers, and even crafts to decorate their homes. These markets are also often social experiences, with live music, food trucks, and plenty of seating to enjoy a meal.  


However, farmers markets provide several benefits to the economy and environment beyond just being entertaining. They play a key role in communities and support several small business owners and entrepreneurs. Learn more about the major impact farmers markets have and how you can develop one in your area. 

Promoting Community Health

A farmers market isn’t just a place to buy food. It is also a cornerstone in the community where local residents can learn new information and receive important services. They also provide a convenient place to buy fresh produce and healthy food, which can build good habits.

Promoting Healthy Eating

Farmers markets provide access to fresh, locally-grown produce that is also affordable. These markets can make neighborhoods more desirable in some communities while serving as a lifeline in others. 


For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an interactive atlas that highlights food-insecure regions across the country. Roughly 8.4% of Americans, 23.5 million people, live in low-income areas that are also more than a mile from a supermarket. These are known as food deserts and many of those residents rely on fast food or convenience stores for groceries. Fresh produce and affordable, healthy choices aren’t regularly available. 


Farmers markets provide access. They create a space where families can buy fruits and vegetables, along with bread, cheese, and fresh meat.  

Educating and Building Awareness

Farmers markets can also help community members improve their diets through education. They can learn about new vegetables as they grow seasonally and get tips from the farmers on how to prepare them. Kids can develop a curiosity about food that can help even the pickiest of eaters. Better eating can help communities in a variety of ways. It can help kids grow up healthy and strong while also supporting adults who are focused on heart health and cholesterol. 


Many communities also use farmers markets as meeting points to provide valuable services. There might be a bus on site for residents to donate blood or a mobile dentist for people who aren’t able to schedule an appointment during the week. Even local government departments can set up tables to promote senior services, summer camps, and tax support.  

Enriching the Local Economy

Farmers markets are a wonderful opportunity to support local growers while boosting the regional economy. On average, farmers only receive 14.3 cents for every dollar that consumers spend. Conversely, processors, distributors, and retailers account for 80 cents in profits for every dollar consumers spend. This ratio gets flipped when farmers can bring their produce directly to customers. They take home most of the profits while only paying a small fee to the market creator.  


When farmers take home more money, they can reinvest it in their local communities. One study found that for every $1 million in revenue that direct-market farms earn, 32 jobs are created in the local economy. Wholesale farmers only create 10.5 jobs.  


Farmers markets also create opportunities for multiple types of businesses and entrepreneurs. A farmers market could have more than 50 vendors ranging from produce growers to artisans. Even people selling custom sunglasses or personalized coolies could set up a booth and launch their businesses. Farmers markets spread their profits across multiple channels in the local economy, not just food growers. 

Helping the Environment

There’s a common trend in farmers markets where small changes that help a local community have a big impact on a global scale. While one farmers market alone can’t preserve the environment, thousands of markets together across the country can have a big impact. 


Customers who shop at farmers markets are more likely to buy organic produce, limiting the amount of fertilizer that enters the soil and water supply. However, there are additional environmental benefits that make these markets even more valuable. 

Reducing Carbon Footprints

Farmers markets can significantly reduce a community’s carbon footprint. On average, food travels more than 1,000 miles from where it is harvested to where it is sold to customers. Tropical fruit like bananas rarely grow in cold Minnesota winters, which means growers rely on ships, planes, and trucks to distribute food. 


Conversely, most food sold at farmers markets is grown less than 200 miles from where it is sold — and some markets even have food grown less than 50 miles away. This almost completely eliminates the amount of emissions needed to bring food from the farm to the customer. 

Promoting Stewardship and Sustainability

These markets also inspire a sense of stewardship in local communities. Residents want to see their farmers thrive and that means supporting them by buying their produce. Farmers markets also create a space for customers to buy sustainable produce, making it easier and more affordable to support the environment.


Many market organizers also take extra steps to make their events more eco-friendly. They encourage customers to bring reusable bags or provide them on-site. They also eliminate single-use plastics and instead ask vendors to bring paper straws and plates when serving meals.

Tips for Holding a Successful Farmers Market

An impactful farmer’s market requires careful planning and effort. If you are interested in launching a farmers market in your area, follow these steps.

Strategic Planning

There are a lot of moving pieces involved in running a farmers market. Not only do you need vendors and organizers, but you also need to consider when the event will be held and how people can load in and take down their booths.


  • Venue selection: you need ample space for vendors, parking for their trucks, and easy access for customers. 
  • Ideal date: choose a recognizable day of the week that works for vendors and customers. The first Friday or second Saturday of the month is usually popular. 
  • Vendor approval: develop an application process that is simple but informative for the organizers. This prevents you from having too many similar vendors. You should also decide on any fees you plan to charge.   
  • Staffing: consider how many paid and unpaid staff you will need. Look to recruit volunteers to help out vendors and customers. 
  • Marketing: decide how you will promote your event to attract customers. This will make the farmers market worth it for your vendors.  


Consider working with someone from your local government to launch your farmers market. They can help with the permitting process and provide support. 

Community Engagement

Community engagement is essential for a successful farmers market. You need a wide variety of vendors who are eager to sell their wares while also packing your venue with customers. 


  • Invest in yard signs and banners that you can place around town to let people know that a farmers market is happening. 
  • Reward volunteers with t-shirts, bags, or custom lanyards that promote the farmers market. This way they become brand ambassadors.  
  • Post about the event on community calendars and event pages.
  • Send out a press release to local media who can cover the event ahead of time. 
  • Ask your vendors to market the event. They can share information about your farmers market on their social media pages, growing your reach. 


Even if they have been established for several years, farmers markets still promote the event through a variety of channels to attract new customers. 

Collaboration and Creativity

Farmers markets thrive when they offer more than a traditional grocery store experience. There are ways to make your event fun and engaging for the whole family. For example, you can choose a venue that has a playground where it’s safe for kids to play while parents shop.


You can also sell custom t-shirts at the market or give out door prizes to customers throughout the morning. This makes them more likely to return. Look into a variety of custom decorations that you can set up each week before your farmers market kicks off. 


Once you launch a farmers market in your community, it can continue to grow until it becomes a staple in your area. You can have a significant impact on local businesses, the health of your neighbors, and the environment as a whole.

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