The connection much of the public has to farmers markets is, in many instances, the only direct connection they have to farmers and ranchers themselves. So it’s exciting to honor those farmers markets nationwide that are doing right by their communities.
The America’s Farmers Market Celebration, put on by American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition, is in its 14th year and ran from June 21 to Sept. 19, 2022. National winners have been announced based on public voting, while the top markets in five U.S. regions and in all 50 states are also being recognized.
More than 2,000 farmers markets nationwide participated in the 2022 celebration with over 10 million supporters engaged through voting, visiting the celebration website and engaging with the celebration on social media.
“America’s farmers markets serve as anchors of communities from coast to coast, providing access to fresh, healthy food and helping residents develop relationships directly with farmers and purveyors,” said Greg Plotkin, American Farmland Trust’s Director of Digital Communications.
National winners are awarded $5,000 for first place, $2,500 for second, $1,500 for third, $750 for fourth, and $250 for fifth. These funds are awarded to markets for marketing, communications, and other needs that help expand the market’s reach and impact.
First place: Overland Park Farmers Market, Overland Park, Kansas
“Over the last three years, staff, vendors and shoppers physically pivoted repeatedly to meet the health guidelines set before us to open and operate safely. We all mentally adapted to overcome the fears and uncertainties of the unknowns. For years, the market has been viewed as a large community gathering place with events and entertainment to make Downtown Overland Park a desirable destination place, all of which was suspended during our temporary relocation. However, this pandemic has highlighted the primary function of what a farmers’ market is and how critical local food is to both vendors and shoppers. From opening as a drive-thru market, to a social distancing market and then moving back to Downtown Overland Park to now the Expanded Pavilion Site, we learned the value and were reminded just how essential the farmers’ market truly is. The OPFM provides healthy food and gives low-income shoppers a way to access local goods bringing the equality of sustainable products to all.” — Kristina Stanley, Recreation Supervisor, Parks and Recreation, City of Overland Park
Second place: Columbia Farmers Market, Columbia, Missouri
“To be recognized as one of the top markets in the country, for the second year in a row, is such an honor for our organization. Many customers have asked us over the past few months what this contest means. Our answer all summer has been that it means we have the best customers. Our community has supported our hard-working farmers and producers for 42 years and has allowed us to grow into the thriving organization we are now. With the help of those supporters and the recognition of this competition, we’ve had the best year on record in 2022. Breaking customer count records week after week, our vendors have sold more than ever, we’ve dispensed more nutrition incentive benefits to our community than ever, and we’ve opened another weekly market. We owe such a big thank you to the mid-Missouri community for supporting our producers, our market, and voting for us in this competition.” — Corrina Smith, Executive Director, Columbia Farmers Market
Third place: Nampa Farmers Market, Nampa, Idaho
“I am proud to accept this honor on behalf of so many amazing people. The vendors at the Nampa Farmers Market are some of the hardest working people I know. They invest their heart and soul in providing the best for their customers. Several of them serve as board members, as well. And that board is filled with incredible men and women who work tirelessly to pitch in with bookkeeping, entertainment, special events, social media, advertising, and countless other jobs that make the Nampa Farmers Market something special. And of course, the Nampa community values us as a vital part of the downtown area. We are not just a place to shop for them — we are their friends. — Jeralynne Bobinski, Market Manager, Nampa Farmers Market
Fourth place: West Windsor Community Farmers Market, West Windsor, New Jersey
“Placing fourth in the nation allows us to celebrate and bring more awareness to our nearly twenty year-old market, whose mission has always been to support New Jersey farmers, local food producers and purveyors, create a welcoming community space for all and engender a healthy lifestyle. Seeing the diversity of markets across the country through the American Farmland Trust Celebration highlights all of us doing this invaluable work. We’re proud to be in good company.” — Chris Cirkus, Market Manager, West Windsor Community Farmers Market
Fifth place: Monroe Farmers Market, Monroe, Connecticut
While we are a small town, I’ve learned to never underestimate this community’s love and appreciation of our Farmers’ Market as demonstrated during this celebration! Since the Market’s inception in 2008, we have embraced a traditional model of farmers & vendors being required to grow/raise/make their own items sourced right here in CT. It has helped us keep our focus and stay true to our mission each season by promoting agriculture in its various forms. Each week, we take pride in highlighting our farmers & vendors through samplings and the launch of our Market Minis program this year which encourages our next generation of consumers to engage with the various aspects of our Market. Both of those programs were launched after earning 3rd place funding in the Country last year! It has been a true joy to participate in this annual celebration with the intention of supporting other Markets, raising each other up, and sharing our mutual pride and dedication in this important agricultural initiative. — Kelly Plunkett, Market Manager, Monroe Farmers Market
Since 2008, the 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 and reinforce AFT’s message of No Farms, No Food. 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.