The South Dakota Specialty Producers Association (SDSPA) joins farmers markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week from August 2-8, 2020. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released a proclamation dedicating the week with the goal to increase awareness of the role local farmers markets play in creating healthy communities and in building prosperity among farmers and small businesses.
The events of 2020 have highlighted the resiliency and adaptability of farmers markets while emphasizing the need for investment in local food systems. Now, more than ever, farmers markets are essential.
Farmers markets are sprinkled across the state from Pierre, Rapid City, Spearfish and Vermillion to smaller communities of Kyle and Burke. Over 40 markets span South Dakota. To find a farmers market near you, visit the SDSPA website (sdspecialtyproducers.org).
National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration of farmers markets coordinated by the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), a membership-based nonprofit organization that supports farmers markets nationwide through training, technical assistance, and network-building. SDSPA offers state chapter membership for $40. Membership provides full access to FMC resources, an outlet for sharing needs and networking within our state, and a limited number of $500 sponsorships towards purchasing online ordering software for markets.
In the midst of a global pandemic, farmers markets — like all other small businesses — have been scrambling to continue operations for the farmers and communities that depend on them. Market managers and vendors have been at the forefront of adapting rapid solutions and innovation to protect staff, customers, and community. Some South Dakota markets jumped into action this spring and launched online ordering systems while others have found ways to integrate social distancing and safer shopping experiences.
Each year tens of thousands of farmers sell directly to consumers at farmers markets nationwide, generating $2.4 billion revenue according to a recent estimate by local food researchers based on 2017 USDA Ag Census Data. The 2015 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey also noted that more than 80 percent of all direct market food sales occurred within 100 miles of the farm. At a time when many restaurant sales and other outlets for farmers are down, the income farmers receive at farmers markets is a lifeline.
Farmers markets support South Dakota’s small and diversified farms, and circulate money back into our local economies. Consider finding a market near you and supporting area producers this week and into the future.