Farmers Markets are helping to build community around the country as they have done for centuries worldwide. A study by sociologists of customer behavior in supermarkets, revealed that when we shop these mega stores, we drop into a trance, visit routine sections of the store, check out, and leave with the same old stuff, week after week. Seldom is a word spoken to anyone else in the store except to the person who takes your money.
At the farmers market, on the other hand, shoppers converse with other shoppers and vendors ten times more often than at the supermarket. Things are discussed, friendships are built, and the community grows. At the market, customers shop consciously, not in a trance. Their senses are alert as conversations take place about food, life, and local issues. They come to be part of something that is changing society. Friendships are formed, bonds are created, and the world becomes a better place, because community is forming.
Farmers markets are the fastest growing part of the American food economy. They are community gathering places, bringing people together who want to be part of something better, something with more life in it.
A community can be defined as a group of people living in a common location, interacting with one another, organized around common values. A sense of community is vital to humans. It’s something we need and want, but so often do not get in our current American culture.
The farmers market gives us this place where we can get what we need. When we leave the market, we leave not only with good food, but also with a greater sense of our local environment and who we live with, who’s growing our food, and who we are sharing our space with in our daily lives. We leave with a sense of belonging to something good.