Benefits of going to a farmers market

What outdoor markets have to offer for improving social and economic norms.


Photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash

Farmers markets can be a fun new addition to a weekend lifestyle or routine. It is a lively outdoor setting where one may purchase fresh produce, try new things from different vendors, listen to live music or interact with neighboring communities!


Farmers markets are becoming increasingly popular, showcased  in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area with more than 30 well-known farmers markets. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2019, there were around 9,000 farmers markets in the United States. 


They allow for an aspect of social connection that has no competition with going to the grocery store. Farmers market vendors pride themselves on establishing relationships with their customers that make them return week after week. Most of the people working their stands are the company owners that create the product, whether it be roasting their coffee, growing their fruit, or baking their goods. This adds another layer of intimacy as they know and can describe all of the details of their particular products. 


One of Arlington’s most popular and well-known farmers markets is Westover Farmers Market, located in the Westover Library Plaza on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round. They have a wide range of offerings, like fresh produce, meats, and cheeses from many different farms, and sweet delicacies such as their famous pink Mama’s Donut Bites truck, cakes, macarons and madeleines. Additionally, there are many vendors showcasing different cultures and their unique dishes, such as Ozfeka Catering– offering Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine, and Little Austria– a bakery specializing in Austrian strudels. Some products, such as olive oil and dog treats, stand out because they are not typically expected at a farmers market.


For a more intimate vibe, Cherrydale Farmers Market has a sequestered location in front of Dorothy Hamm Middle School. The vendors are set up throughout the front of the school, giving access to many options while strolling. Lubber Run Farmers Market is another market accessible to the school community, located in the Barrett Elementary School parking lot. Cherrydale and Lubber Run occur on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. These two farmers markets are  managed by the nonprofit organization Field to Table, therefore they consist of many similar vendors showing up every Saturday.


In addition, all three markets offer pre-order options to set purchases aside and keep them available, a popular feature for those who are not morning people.


Farmers markets can also be a source of income or volunteer work for students and regular citizens. While vendors work their tables when possible, they need help selling at multiple places at once and are willing to hire high school students. The market organizations are also always looking for volunteers to help with setup and maintenance during the market. 


I started working a stand for Baguette Republic at Cherrydale Farmers Market when it first opened in July 2021, and have worked the past two seasons. I love the familiarity it brings when regulars interact with me every week. It has been a gratifying experience and has allowed me to learn things related to the bread products I’m selling, along with the business side of reconciling the profits and placing weekly orders. 


Whether someone plans to work or shop at a local farmers market, they will be glad they went and checked out all that the stands have to offer.


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