Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems

Research Article

Consumer interactions and influences on farmers' market vendors

Alan R. Hunta1 c1

a1 Agricultural Policy Analyst, Northeast-Midwest Institute, 218 D Street SE, Washington, DC 20003, USA.

Abstract

Consumers interact with each other and vendors on a social level at farmers' markets. Some consumer social interactions, such as enjoying the market, talking with farmers about seasonal products and making a trip to the market a family event, are significant and positive influences on spending at farmers' markets as identified through a survey of 216 shoppers at eight farmers' markets in Maine. Vendors at these markets were also surveyed, with 65 of the 81 vendors being farmers. Through direct farmer/consumer relations, farmers indicated a willingness to reduce chemical inputs to meet customer demands, suggesting that customer interaction has the potential to affect environmental quality. By examining the linkages between producers and consumers at a direct market—often embedded with a sense of local identity—there is the potential to better understand social interactions that can support the economic and environmental sustainability of local agriculture.

(Accepted April 03 2006)

Key Words:

  • farmers' markets;
  • local;
  • marketing;
  • open space;
  • farm viability;
  • embeddedness;
  • cluster analysis

Correspondence:

c1 *Corresponding author: ahunt@nemw.org

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