A farmers’ market (also farmers market) is a physical retail market featuring foods sold directly by farmers to consumers. Farmers’ markets typically consist of booths, tables or stands, outdoors or indoors, where farmers sell fruits, vegetables, meats, and sometimes prepared foods and beverages. They are distinguished from public markets, which are generally housed in permanent structures, open year-round, and offer a variety of non-farmer/producer vendors, packaged foods and non-food products.
Farmers’ markets exist worldwide and reflect their local culture and economy. Their size ranges from a few stalls to several city blocks. In some cultures, live animals, imported delicacies unavailable locally, and personal goods and crafts are sold.
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, were often part of broader markets, where suppliers of food and other goods gathered to retail their wares. Trading posts began a shift toward retailers who sold others’ products more than their own. General stores and grocery stores continued that specialization trend in retailing, optimizing the consumer experience, while abstracting it further from production and production’s growing complexities.
Modern industrial food production’s advantages over prior methods are largely based 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 strong preference for local variety, farmers’ markets remained competitive with other forms of food retail. Recently, consumer demand for foods that are fresher (spend less time in transit) and foods with more variety—has led to growth of farmers’ markets as preferred food-retailing mechanisms.