This article was published in 2000, in Newsletter 31.
At farmers’ markets food is sold by the farmer directly to the public close to where it was grown or produced. Cycling Campaign members participated in a survey last year as part of a study into the long term feasibility of farmers’ markets in the region. The study found evidence to support the many benefits claimed for farmers’ markets:
- reduced ‘food miles’, support of local food economies, and reduction of the effects of long-distance food transport including traffic pollution and food packaging;
- increased communication and understanding between farmers and consumers;
- revitalised town centres and increased custom for other town centre retailers;
- lower costs for better quality food for consumers;
- support for environmentally friendly farming practices and higher margins for small farmers.
Farmers’ markets are a good place to buy environmentally friendly food, with a high proportion of producers already registered as organic or ‘in conversion’ to organic. Over three quarters of producers also said that their customers asked about how the food was produced. First-hand information on how to cook the food is also available from the people that produce it and eat it themselves.
The most important motivations to shop at farmers’ markets are that they support local farmers and growers and that organic produce is available. Other reasons to support farmers’ markets which are high on people’s lists of priorities are that the produce is freshly harvested or made, that buying local saves on fuel costs, and support for local business and the local economy.
The main recommendation is to involve more people in ensuring the future of the Cambridge Farmers’ Market – every Sunday from 10.30 am – through a steering group.
Farmers’ markets for Cambridge and East Cambridgeshire: a feasibility study – Rosemary Hoskins, East Anglia Food Link. The study was made possible by grant aid from Cambridge Sustainable City, the Countryside Agency and East Cambridgeshire District Council.