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Economic growth

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Rural farmers’ markets stimulate economies

Economic growth is not generally considered when buying at a favorite local farmers’ market. However, this is precisely what happens – each purchase helps the local economy grow. 

Rural farmers’ markets also provide additional benefits, offering a venue for local residents to engage in social activities while contributing to the spirit of the community. 

Evolution generates opportunities

Farmers’ markets are community events, bringing consumers and producers together to learn, share and enjoy local and regional products. These markets provide economic benefits and opportunities to develop quality products and educate customers. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted research and concluded local farmers’ markets continue to grow in popularity while adding valued products to rural communities through direct-to-consumer marketing channels. 

Due to the direct connection to both producers and consumers, farmers’ markets have multiple leverage points to improve health and economic outcomes.

Farmers’ markets continue to provide entrepreneurs the space and opportunity to share their products and build a customer base within the community. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners utilize farmers’ markets to test new products, which is a cost-effective approach to growing product lines. 

During an episode of the Eat-Drink-Think podcast, dated June 14, Alaska Food Policy Council Executive Director Robbi Mixon discusses how purchasing directly from farmers, ranchers and other producers at farmers’ markets has a significant impact on the economic viability of farming and ranching. 

Robbi notes, “The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) offers resources to equip local producers with tools necessary to run successful markets to preserve rural livelihoods and farmlands, stimulate local economies, promote sustainability and support healthy communities.”

She continues, “Farmers’ markets are not just a place to purchase food, they also build a community.” 

Creating growth through local farmersʼ markets

Many small business owners rely on direct-to-consumer markets to build their local businesses and develop a reliable customer base.

According to FMC, for every $100 spent at a farmers’ market, 62 percent stays in the local economy, and producers selling locally will create 13 jobs per $1 million in revenue, leading to growth and retaining individuals in rural areas.

Farmers’ markets provide a unique supply chain and contribute to other small business growth. 

Research from the Oregon State University Extension Office confirmed farmers’ markets often catalyze economic development and local business revitalization. Local markets can generate increased foot traffic, which can benefit surrounding businesses. 

Farmers’ markets create a dynamic and energetic space, attracting and encouraging individuals to stay and participate in mercantile or social activities building an economic bridge. 

Depending on location and products, farmers’ markets can attract tourists, contributing to a community’s economic impact. 

Partnerships between agricultural producers and local businesses build trust, innovation and connection between urban and rural communities.

Join the movement and eat local

According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, farmers’ markets create economic opportunities for family farms, increase consumer choices and provide access to fresh and healthy food while improving economic outcomes for local communities. 

Wyoming has some of the freshest and most delicious local foods around, and Eat Wyoming matches  producers to consumers through an online farmers’ market for local residents.

LeAnn Miller, known as the “Veggie Lady” to many, is a local food broker and founder of Eat Wyoming, who connects residents to local fresh food through an online farmers’ market and weekly markets.

Eat Wyoming sources locally-made foods grown and made in Wyoming, including meat, produce, dairy, grains, baked goods and more, states Miller.

“A weekly summer farmers’ market has been happening in Campbell County now for 101 years,” states Northeast Wyoming Farmers Artisans Ranchers Regional Market (NEW FARRM) Exchange President Joanne Engelhaupt.

The Gillette Saturday Farmers’ Market is a subsidiary of the NEW FARRM Exchange, which seeks to build a vibrant and inclusive community to promote the development of Northeast Wyoming.

The Gillette Saturday Farmers’ Market takes place weekly on Saturday mornings June through October and on Thursday evenings from July to September.

“The Gillette Saturday Farmers’ Market supports young entrepreneurs by offering a free space for them to sell their products,” Englehaupt adds.

Farmers’ markets also attract younger farmers to the agriculture segment. The National Young Farmers Coalition reports six times as many U.S. farmers over 65 as those under 35. Farmers’ markets provide a peek into the possibilities of a farming career.

With abundant farmers’ markets scattered around Wyoming and with National Farmers’ Market Week, celebrated annually during the first full week in August, remember to get out and support local markets, enhance community spirit and contribute to sustainable economies. 

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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