By Jennifer Hunt, Contributing Writer
Have you ever wondered why a farmer’s market is important? The produce is delicious, but is there any real value other than the novelty of enjoying a Saturday morning at a vegetable stand? Heather Carter, farmer extraordinaire, answers a few questions about the value of a farmer’s market, one way to support your local farmer’s market, and what to expect if you’ve never been to one.
Meet The Farmer
Heather Carter owns Nature Hills Farm. She participates weekly at the year-round farmer’s market in Cedar City, UT where she sells raw milk, cheese from the raw milk, pork, chicken and duck eggs, grass-fed beef, jams, jellies, artisan breads, vanilla extract, fruit, and vegetables. Her children also make and sell lotion and soap.
In addition to the farmer’s market, Heather also runs a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) where she sells a weekly vegetable basket and holds community cheese-making classes.
Heather has a master’s degree in Education, but switched to full-time farming 5 years ago and loves the career change as well as the extra time with her four children.
Farmer’s Market FAQ
What is the purpose of a farmer’s market?
Heather: The purpose of a farmer’s market is for farmers to have a place to get together and to sell their products, whether it is a produce—something they’ve grown on the farm—or whether it is fruit they’ve grown in their orchards, or a value-added product they have made from the products on their farm.
It’s a way for the farmers to have an outlet to sell these products directly to the consumer versus going to a store and trying to sell it and then being a third-party.
Why do consumers like the farmer’s market?
Heather: I think that they like to meet the farmer and meet the person that has grown or prepared their food. People have really become aware of their food and what is in their food and they want to have a little more control over what they’re purchasing and what they are consuming. The best way to do that is to go directly to the farm.
When people come to the farmer’s market, they are able to actually get produce that hasn’t been traveling. It was picked the day before and it’s very fresh and very good produce. I’ve seen that as one of the biggest draws for people at the farmer’s market.
What value does the farmer’s market provide to the community as a whole, whether large or small?
Heather: When we have a farmer’s market, we’re encouraging other people and other farmers to grow and bring their produce and to sell it. It’s always better to support the local community and to keep that money in your community when you buy locally, but it’s also helping to expand the amount of food that we are growing in our community in case we ever needed to feed our community only on our produce that is here from farmers.
What is one way for someone to support the farmer’s market?
Heather: If someone comes to the market before they go to the grocery store and buys everything on their list that they can at the market, and then go to the other grocery store, that will help farmer’s markets continue to grow.
Every farmer’s market is different. If someone has never been to one, what can they expect?
Heather: You are going to see a lot of different produce. You’re going to see some cheeses, jams, meats, and a lot of artisan and homemade foods. You might see live music. Some places even allow crafts. You will see a variety of products that are produced at home or on the farm.
Anything else you would like to add?
Heather: I think that eating locally is good for the consumer, it’s good for the body, it’s great to eat seasonally, and it’s good for the farmer and the community.
When we’re buying local and eating local, we know that money’s going back into the community and we’re getting great produce in return.
A great big THANK YOU to Heather Carter of Nature Hills Farm for explaining the farmer’s market and its value for the community.
What is the farmer’s market like in your community? What advice would you give to a new farmer’s market attendee?
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