More Farms Vie for the $1 Billion Spent at Farmers Markets – Businessweek

On a recent May morning at the Collingswood N.J. farmers market just outside Philadelphia, Jim Daily is neatly switching back and forth between bagging tomato plants and asparagus bunches and talking tomatoes with bleary-eyed customers. It’s about breakfast time on the first weekend of the market, and in the misty coolness, hundreds of people are milling around, eyeing pints of strawberries, heaps of carrots, and other local goodies at dozens of stands.

The next day, Daily, 73, who works for his daughter and son-in-law’s 150-acre fruit and vegetable farm, A.T. Buzby, about an hour south of Philadelphia in Woodstown, N.J., will set up at the Head House Farmers Market in Philadelphia, under an ancient brick shed a few blocks from founding father Ben Franklin’s old house. Franklin might have shopped at Head House in the 1700s, but for the Buzbys, farmers markets are a new destination.

For the past three decades the Buzbys have sold their fruits and vegetables to wholesalers and didn’t consider trekking to the handful of far-off farmers markets. A few years ago, when a bunch of markets opened near their farm, they started to experiment. Now Daily’s daughter, Dawn Buzby, estimates that about 20 percent of her annual $1 million in revenue comes from the four markets they sell at weekly. “People are more aware of where their food comes from, which helps us selling retail, plus the wholesale market is more precarious because distributors now seem to buy from everywhere,” says Buzby, who employs about 20 workers during her peak season. “The time was just right for us to exploit farmers markets.”

There are 7,175 farmers markets in the country—twice the number in the mid-2000s, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While a growing breed of consumer hungry for locally sourced food is obviously contributing to the uptick, competition from foreign and domestic agribusiness is also encouraging more independent farmers to try direct retail, says Larry Lev, a professor in the department of agricultural and resource economics at Oregon State University. “The price difference between selling direct at a farmers market and selling through a distributor to a supermarket is huge,” says Lev. “The usual markup at a supermarket is 100 percent, but if you have a distributor, that will take a big chunk out.”

via More Farms Vie for the $1 Billion Spent at Farmers Markets – Businessweek.

Strange Random Farmer Quote:

“There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.” – Benjamin Franklin

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Posted on May 13, 2012, in Article and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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