My first experience with a "Farmer's Market" was in my hometown of 8,000. This was back in the late 80's and I remember it being maybe 3 vendors selling from the back of their trucks. They had the usual, sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini, and maybe some cucumbers. That was it. I recently went back to my hometown for the 4th of July and went over to the Farmer's Market which had gone away for awhile I believe, but had recently been re-opened. Due to a 4th of July festival that goes on every year my Grandma said they had a lot less vendors then usual, but I was impressed as they still had around 14! I mean for a town of 8,000 that is pretty good. And it wasn't just the usual garden produce either, they had chard, and all sorts of berries, different looking squash, grass fed beef, free range eggs, and even hand spun wool and yarn from llama's! A lot different from the late 80's version! Even in my town of 45,000ish our Farmer's Market has probably tripled or quadrupled in the last 2 years. I think it has to have been the "perfect storm" of events in this country that has brought back this old tradition. Food safety, poor economic times, a better understanding of where your food comes from, a desire to support one's community, and lots of people wanting to find an extra way to earn cash. I also find it interesting how the look of the market has changed. I think you generally have 3 main groups of people selling at market's. Middle aged to older farmer's who have been doing it forever (the ones in the overalls and John Deere hat's who are an invaluable source of information and generally love to share it), the hippies (long skirts, rope sandals, baby wearing, odd food growing, kind of people, who generally grow some really weird stuff), and Amish or Mennonite families (probably the biggest competition as they know how to do everything farm related and they are supporting their families while doing it). Now don't get me wrong there are some other types in there for sure, but these people seem to make up a large demographic of sellers. Also the individual stand seems to have changed a lot recently. You have seen pictures of our table, and this is a very typical set up...at least at our market. People love it too. Everything in baskets, pretty sign showing your farm name, nice table cloth, etc. We always have people wanting to take pictures of our table which is very flattering. I think it draws people in. A lot different from selling out of the back of your truck (which is also still done and seems to work very well for some people). Even the veteran farmer's seems to be spiffing up their tables to keep up with everyone else. The biggest thing that I am hoping for is that this isn't just a trend. I hope that all of these things have opened up people's minds and made them realize that there is a better way to get food. You look at a lot of other countries and their market's are the heart beat of their community. I really hope this is what the future of Farmer's Market's will be in our country as well!
P.S. As usual I appologize for the spelling and gramatical errors. This is being written super fast during nap time! :)