Farmer Market Facts
Farmers markets in the United States, according to the USDA Marketing Services Division. That number is up 76 percent since 2008. The popularity of farmers markets would not surprise you if you’ve ever been to the downtown market in Eau Claire on a Saturday morning in July.
Why are Farmer Markets so in Demand?
The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture gives several reasons: fresh food tastes better and is healthier, you’re helping the environment by buying local food as well as supporting family farms, you can know where your food comes from and talk to the producers directly, it builds community, and it’s a festive atmosphere, it’s fun!
New at the Markets
At the Downtown Farmers Market watch for a few new vendors this year, who may offer “a different sort” of product than what shoppers have seen there before. The market also hopes to feature some special promotions and give-aways. Not new this year but looking toward next year, Robyn Thibado, Associate Director of WestCAP notes, “We are excited about moving to a new location next year. The City of Menomonie received a grant to build a permanent pavilion that will house the market starting in 2016. The pavilion will be built by the Ludington Guard band shell in Wilson Park, close to the downtown area and the new Menomonie Market Co-op.”
Tokens Program Grows
To make the shopping experience easier, you can swipe your debit, credit, or EBT/FoodShare card in exchange for tokens that can be used to purchase foods. If you have tokens left when you’re done shopping, you can use them next time. They never expire, so if you think you may still have one or two in your change jar, fish them out and bring them along to your first visit of the year. The token program at the Downtown Eau Claire market, in its fourth year, will be expanding for those using EBT/FoodShare cards, thanks to a grant and a gift the program has received. The Menomonie Farmers Market will also begin accepting EBT/FoodShare cards this year.