17 February 2010
February is planning and testing time at The Market and Four Corners Creamery (our cheese making business) for the Farmers Market season. We love to try new cheese making procedures, aging techniques and bacterial cultures. Occasionally there are winners...but just as often, a great idea turns funky! So goes the quest to create cheese! I am thankful for this time to anticipate the spring and summer months, and yet still catch a nap on my day off!
We are very fortunate to participate in Farmers Markets that are "Grower Only" markets. Tecumseh, Ann Arbor and Saline host Farmers Markets that have guidelines in place to assure customers that all of the food/goods produced are licensed, actually produced by that vendor and local to the area. The market manager oversees the vendors and keeps the integrity of the market. So goes my rant...
RANT: Why are Farmers Markets allowing resellers to participate?
I have had a few customers tell me (at The Boulevard Market) that they have purchased cheese from England at their Farmers Market?!?!?
My opinion is that the problem then becomes two fold; the reseller takes business away from the local brick and mortar business by avoiding all the cost associated with doing business, (ie; taxes, licensing, insurance etc.) and from the local farmer by bringing in products that are less expensive to grow on an industrial level.
Allowing resellers compromises the local farmer by creating competition that is unhealthy. Local farmers are more diversified in their crops and keep seasonal for the most part. The farmers are using a local labor force, travel less to reach the markets and guarantee growing conditions and pesticide/fertilizer use.
Reselling is no different than shopping at the grocery store, except your local grocer usually puts that money back into the community through donations to charities, a local labor force and the property taxes that they pay. Not to say resellers don't, but not on the dollar level of a grocer.
I go to the Farmers Market to CONNECT to the community and know who is growing/producing the food I am purchasing. I expect to make some changes to my shopping list depending on what is in season or what I might have missed that morning. I like talking to my neighbors and seeing what they have chosen or are making for supper with their purchases. I like trying new vegetable varieties, buying a beautiful bouquet and checking out the beeswax candles, breads and fruits. I like spending my money and time on people I know!
If your argument is "my farmers market is small and there isn't much selection", all the more reason to shop there! Successful, Grower Only markets are created by the demand in the community! Ask that farmer to grow something special for you, ask the cheese maker for a pound of ricotta next week, ask for a pot of purple petunias...ask where your food is coming from, who is creating it and where you can get more of that good stuff!
By the way- the photo is my Dad, Mike Prochaska, after a long day of farming!