June 11, 2009

Farmers’ Markets to Open in Memphis, Rutledge

People seeking fresh local food in northeast Missouri will soon have an easier time finding it. Starting next week there will be two farmers’ markets opening here.

The Memphis farmers’ market will open Tuesday, June 16, and run from 4-7 PM. It will be held on the Courthouse lawn. The Rutledge farmers’ market will open Saturday, June 20, from 9 AM to 12 PM, in the park by the Post Office. Both markets will be open weekly at these times through the end of September.

“This is an exciting opportunity for producers and food lovers in our area,” says Alyson Ewald, secretary of Scotland County Farmers’ Markets, the nonprofit organizing the markets. “Everyone who eats knows that fresh food tastes better. And we’re glad we can provide a way for families to bring in extra income in these hard times.

“Our area has some of the most productive ground in the country. Farmers’ markets can use that fertility to strengthen communities, because they encourage farmers to grow a variety of food and sell it directly to families at retail prices. That way the money stays in our community, and young people have an interesting and financially viable way to keep farming locally.”

Ewald noted that both markets welcome new vendors at any time. It is free of charge to set up at the June markets. After that vendors pay $3 per market to set up.

The markets are completely local, so all produce must be grown within Scotland County or the surrounding counties of Schuyler, Adair, Knox, Lewis, Clark, Davis (IA), and Van Buren (IA). Value-added products must also be produced within that same area. Vendors can only sell food they had a hand in growing or producing.

Farmers’ markets are one of the oldest forms of direct marketing by small farmers. Growers all over the world gather regularly to sell fruits and vegetables directly to their neighbors. In the United States farmers’ markets have only taken off since the 1970s, when there were only a few hundred markets. Now there are over 3,100 registered markets across the country plus many more informal ones, and the “Buy Local” movement is expanding fast.

The Scotland County markets, like most farmers’ markets, may feature stalls selling produce, honey, nuts, eggs, meats, baked goods, and other value-added products. There will also be stalls for nonprofits such as The Place, Master Gardeners, Extension, the Health Department, and the Cancer Fund, and there will often be live music and activities for kids.

For more information, contact Memphis market co-managers Jeanne Snodgrass at 660-883-5614 or Gigi Wahba at 660-883-5543, or Rutledge area co-managers Alyson Ewald at 660-883-5329 or Brian “Ziggy” Liloia at 660-883-5718.

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