The co-branded summer long event is the preeminent ranking of the nation’s favorite farmers markets
WASHINGTON, DC – American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition announce the winners of the 13th annual America’s Farmers Market Celebration, a national event that ran between June 21 – September 19, 2021. Markets receiving the most votes from the public are declared winners of the “People’s Choice” category, as well as recognized as top markets in five regions nationwide.
More than 2,000 markets across the nation participated in the celebration in 2021 with over 1 million supporters engaged through voting, visiting the celebration website, and engaging with the celebration on social media.
“We are constantly inspired by the dedicated farmers market operators around the country who have worked so hard to continue to provide essential services for their communities, despite the monumental challenges of the past year,” said Ben Feldman, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “It was such a joy to see communities come together to support their markets through America’s Farmers Market Celebration. Congratulations to this year’s winners and thank you to AFT for inviting us to join in coordination this year! We’re excited to continue to celebrate the vibrance of farmers markets with you throughout the year.”
Since 2008, the celebration has highlighted the important role farmers markets play in American communities and our larger food system. Farmers markets are on the leading edge of educating consumers about where food comes from and reinforces AFT’s message of No Farms No Food®. They foster direct relationships between community members and farmers to help create a more fair, sustainable and just food system. Participating in the celebration is a way for people to come together and support their communities and local food producers.
People’s Choice Winners
The “People’s Choice” category awards $2,500 for first, $1,500 for second and $1,000 for third. These funds are awarded to markets for marketing, communications and other needs that help expand the market’s reach and impact.
FIRST: Columbia Farmers Market, Columbia, MO – Awarded $2,500
“I’m constantly blown away by the support our community shows our producer-only farmers market. Being open since 1980, I always tell folks that “we were local, before local was a trend”. The mid-Missouri community keeps coming back year-round Saturday after Saturday supporting our 80+ vendors, keeping us open during the pandemic, donating over $5.8 million towards Columbia’s Agriculture Park, and now voting us into this #1 recognition. We really do have the best market community. We can’t say thank you enough, to everyone that has helped our farmers market get to where we are today.”
Corrina Smith, Executive Director for Columbia Farmers Market and Sustainable Farms and Communities, as well as the President for Missouri Farmers Market Association
“In the agricultural industry, we continue to face massive hurdles such as dealing with low commodity prices, educating the consumer and struggling to bring the next generation to the farm. As a farmer, one of the many joys the Columbia Farmers Market brings to me, is that we are taking these issues head on. We are providing an outlet for the local farmer to gain more control over their supply chain and thus set their own price. We are also providing fun and engaging educational programs for children and answering questions parents may have about where their food comes from. Lastly, something I’m extremely passionate about, is that we are providing an opportunity for farms to find their niche and adapt, in order to bring on the next generation to these family farms.“
Dustin Stanton, President Columbia Farmers Market and proprietor of Stanton Brothers Eggs
SECOND: Oxford Community Market, Oxford, MS — Awarded $1,500
“We are of course thrilled and proud of our 2nd place win, but the real prize is now being connected to markets across the country who are doing amazing local food systems work. Through the contest, we had the opportunity to learn about and get ideas from the great things these markets are doing in their communities.
“The contest, aside from being a heck of a lot of fun and quite a wild ride at some points along the way, was just really great publicity for our little market and really brought our community of supporters together. We gained many new social media followers and got a lot of engagement from University of Mississippi students, which has been one of our marketing goals. The contest helped is strengthen our communication channels and allowed us to have some creative marketing fun too.”
Betsy Chapman, Oxford Community Market Director
THIRD: Monroe Farmers Market, Monroe, CT — Awarded $1,000
“Monroe, CT is a small town with a huge heart and this competition affirmed to our community just how much they love their Farmers’ Market! Our 13th season has proven that the market is a town treasure as our residents were fully engaged in the voting process and eagerly anticipated the final results. We are so grateful that our customers appreciate our mission of remaining a traditional farmers’ market with focus on promoting agriculture in various forms and remaining a CT Grown Market. Throughout the season we pay tribute to our eight farmers, bakers and specialty vendors by hosting fun events for all ages that promote a sense of community and showcase our towns many talents. It’s not every market that can pull off a Gender Reveal party, Grandparents Day, a flash mob, and a highly anticipated Tater Fest all in one season, but our customers expect nothing less every Friday!”
Kelly Plunkett, Market Manager Monroe Farmers’ Market
Here’s what marketgoers had to say:
Columbia Farmers Market
“We always look for farmers markets wherever we are. We recently moved to Columbia. We went the first weekend after hearing about it and have been huge fans ever since. It is easily the best one we have been to. We have been eating our way through from one end to the other. We have our favorites but walk the whole market each time just in case there is something new that we just got to have.”
“We love to go to the farmers market every Saturday. My son loves to buy the triple berry pies there. We can also find great produce that may be hard to find elsewhere such as cayenne pepper, lime basil, pawpaw fruits and turmeric leaves. I love the hospitality of the vendors too.”
“The best farmer’s market I’ve been to. My kids love earning munch money and finding unique things to spend it on. We have bought popping corn cobs, a huge sunflower head to harvest seeds ourselves, the sweetest watermelon, honey, dried apples and more. There is so much for kids to enjoy, picking cherry tomatoes and the schoolhouse room with weekly activities and playground. My toddler loves the live music. And we have found the vendors to be helpful and kind.”
Oxford Community Market
“The Oxford City Market is a true local source of organic foods and more!!! This is by far the best family-oriented farmers market that I’ve ever soon. The director, Betsy Chapman is a godsend who always goes above and beyond the call of duty to accommodate customers and vendors.”
“My mother drives nearly two hours to come to our market with me! We never had anything like this at home, and I LOVE the love shared here! Best plants, veggies/fruit, goods, and community support ever. 10/10!”
“We eat several meals a week just from what I got at the market, with plates full of food so local that I have become friends with the bakers/farmers who made it. Also, the market works hard to be part of the community, collecting and home-delivering free food for folks who are shut ins, can’t afford it and even just can’t connect with or afford the bus fare. The market creates events for the children, gets grants to pay for musicians and does lots more stuff in and for the general community.”
Monroe Farmers Market
“Best market in the area with the most dedicated volunteers and the greatest vendors. One stop shopping for most of my weekly groceries.”
“Grateful to have this in our town! It is so well organized, produce is fresh and the variety of products sold is all locally sourced-which I love! Supporting our local farmers and small business owners is very important to our family. I especially love the coming together of our community to experience this market every Friday.”
“I grew up farm to table in Ireland and (having lived in NYC for the last 20 years) moving to Monroe the market was a welcome find. Blown away the first day I visited. I would highly recommend a visit.”
Regional Award Winners
Northeast: Monroe Farmers Market, Monroe, CT
Midwest: Columbia Farmers Market, Columbia, MO
Pacific: Napa Farmers Market, Napa, CA
Southeast: Oxford Community Market, Oxford, MS
Southwest: Dripping Springs Farmers Market, Dripping Springs, TX
“Farmers markets have played an important part in my life over the past 15 years as both a vendor and a consumer,” said Greg Plotkin, Deputy Director of Digital Communications at AFT. “I’m honored that the celebration can play a small role in raising the profile of many markets across the country that so often don’t receive the recognition they rightfully deserve. I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to everyone who helped us choose America’s favorite farmers markets of 2021. The celebration is only possible because of you!”
American Farmland Trust is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since 1980, AFT’s innovative work has helped to permanently protect more than 6.8 million acres of farmland and ranchland and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more. No Farms, No Food. Learn more at www.farmland.org.
American Farmland Trust Contact: Lori Sallet, E: firstname.lastname@example.org ● P: (410) 708.5940