A produce shed is a physical retail marketplace intended to sell foods directly by farmers to consumers. Now known as the Farmers’ market, they exist in many countries worldwide and reflect the local culture and economy. The size of the market maybe just a few stalls or it may be as large as several city blocks. Due to their nature, they tend to be less rigidly regulated than retail produce shops. Farmers’ markets may be indoors or outdoors and typically consist of booths where farmers sell their homegrown produce. Some have live animals and plants, and sometimes prepared foods and beverages. They are distinguished from public markets, which are generally housed in permanent structures, open year-round. They offer a variety of non-farmer/non-producer vendors, packaged foods, and non-food products.
Produce Shed – Farmers’ Market
The current concept of a farmers’ market is similar to past concepts. But different in relation to other forms – as aspects of consumer retailing, overall, continue to shift over time. Similar forms existed before the Industrial Age, but often formed part of broader markets. Where suppliers of food and other goods gathered to retail their wares. Trading posts began in the 1930s, a shift toward retailers who sold others’ products more than their own. General stores and grocery stores continued that specialization trend in retailing. They optimizing the consumer experience while abstracting it further from production and from production’s growing complexities.
Modern industrial food production’s advantages over prior methods depend largely on modern, cheap, fast transport, and limited product variability. But transport costs and delays cannot be completely eliminated. So, where distance strained industrial suppliers’ reach. Where consumers had a strong preference for local variety, farmers’ markets remained competitive with other forms of food retail. Starting in the mid-2000s, consumer demand for foods that are fresher (spend less time in transit) and for foods with more variety—has led to the growth of farmers’ markets as a food-retailing mechanism.
Origin of Today’s Produce Shed – Farmers’ Market
The origin of farmers’ markets can be traced back to Egypt, over 5,000 years ago. Farmers along the Nile came together to sell their fresh produce. The first known farmers’ market in the USA appeared in Boston in 1634. It would make sense that these markets would have a presence so far back in history before the transportation of goods became accessible when communities were tightly-knit with the farmlands that surrounded them.
As cities began to sprawl across the countryside, pushing the farmlands further and further away from the communities they served, transportation and refrigeration opened up opportunities for these farms to lengthen their reach. In the 1700s, grocery stores became the popular source for produce and goods. Farmers’ markets began to disappear and interests shifted to these stores, abound with choice and convenience. When the USDA undertook its first census of farmers’ markets in 1948, there were just six in all of California.
It wasn’t until the 1970s, when America became health-conscious, that farmers’ markets began to make an appearance again. Also, fresh-healthy, and easy-to-prepare foods became the priority for housewives and their families. Thus, the public began to remember the quaintness of farmers’ markets, and all the access to fresh, healthy foods they provided. Between 1994 and 2008, farmers’ markets really began to hit their stride. The number of markets increased 300% in that time and has continued to grow to this day.
Today’s Produce Shed – Farmers’ Market
Today, there are almost 8,700 farmers markets operating in the United States, according to the Department of Agriculture, which is currently celebrating National Farmers Market Week. Some 760 of those are in California (with about 25 in San Francisco alone), where images of bountiful, beautiful produce and smiling farmers at the market are as much a part of the state’s identity as sunshine and surfboards. These markets are selling more than fruits and vegetables. Although, slogans like “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” and “Eat Fresh, Eat Local,” they are trading on ideals of community, health, food education, and environmental stewardship. Perhaps most all, they are selling nostalgia, a throwback to the way things were in the good old days.
Due in part to the increased interest in healthier foods, a greater desire to preserve local cultivars or livestock (some of which may not be up to commercial shipping or yield standards). Altogether, an increased understanding of the importance of maintaining small, sustainable farms on the fringe of urban environments, farmers’ markets in the US have grown from 1,755 in 1994 to 4,385 in 2006, to 5,274 in 2009, to 8,144 in 2013.
New York City has over 100 farmers’ markets in operation. The Los Angeles area, 88 farmers’ markets exist, many of which support Hispanic and Asian fare. In the U.S., all levels of government have provided funding to farmers’ markets, for instance, through federal programs. In short, programs primarily subsidize purchases at farmers’ markets by low-income residents. Examples include Austin’s Double Dollar Incentive Program, Boston’s Bounty Bucks, Chicago’s LINK Up, Columbia Heights Festibucks in Washington, D.C., Fresh Checks in East Palo Alto, Market Match in Los Angeles, Michigan’s Double Up Food Bucks, New York City’s Health Bucks, Portland Fresh Exchange, and Seattle Fresh Bucks. These programs often rely in part on nonprofit support.