Farmers Markets – the New Social Network
- on October 16, 2012
Gathering spaces, all cultures have them; a place to join with others in the community, a place to share news, listen to stories, trade goods and seek out services. City halls, round houses, parks, churches, taverns and town squares have served as gathering places over time. Since the beginning of civilization, the most common and most universally recognized gathering space has been the open air market.
Originally, the corner stone of all shopping experiences, open air markets have served as a meet and greet, see and be seen, news and goods exchange mechanism. Eventually, modernization and cultural shifts turned the open air market into the corner store and further consumer development transformed the corner store into the super market, the mall and the big box store. The advent of the internet and social media affected a shift from brick and mortar shopping to online shopping, further removing consumers from the social mechanisms of gathering and placing them into cyberspace, where communication is limited by texting, blogging and online chat forums.
Almost as though society has gone full circle, communities are emerging from the fluorescent lit confines of consumerism to witness and effect a resurgence of open air markets. The most popular of these new age gathering spaces is the weekly farmers market. In the past four years the number of farmers markets in the United State has almost doubled, from 4,300 markets in 2008 to nearly 8,000 markets by the end of 2012.
Upon further speculation, the upsurge in farmers markets and their increased patronage can be rendered as closely paralleling the increase of corporate influences over national food sources. Maybe not surprising to many, the rising number of markets across the country is remarkably reflective of the introduction and proliferation of highly processed foods and genetically modified crops. Whether the increased popularity of local produce and food transparency is a response to big Ag or a social outcome from the general disconnect brought on by sprawling urban development and increased electronic communication, the fact of the matter remains, farmers markets are becoming an increasingly popular economic phenomenon.
Money-for-food is not the only transaction going on at the farmers’ markets; indeed, it may be the least of it. Neighbors are talking to neighbors. Consumers meet producers. (Confirming the obvious, one social scientist found that people have 10 times as many conversations at the farmers’ market as they do at the supermarket.) City meets country. Kids discover what food is. Activists circulate petitions. The farmers’ market has become the country’s liveliest new public square, an outlet for our communitarian impulses and a means of escaping, or at least complicating, the narrow role that capitalism usually assigns to us as “consumers.” At the farmers’ market, we are consumers, yes, but at the same time also citizens, neighbors, parents and cooks. In voting with our food dollars, we enlarge our sense of our “interests” from the usual concern with a good value to, well, a concern with values.
Come join the community this week and show our local farmers that you value the fruits of their labor at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market.
This Thursday, October 18, 2012, Pickett, Paul and Jeans will play their upbeat eclectic mix of old time jazz and acoustical rhythms from 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm. The Ross Family will fire up their grill and serve up the season’s last taste of Thomasine’s handmade fry bread and Indian tacos. Seventeen of our area’s finest producers will be on hand to share their produce with market patrons and Free State Brewing will be pouring their award winning ales for the 21 and over crowd.
Taste the difference, meet your farmers and share in the community experience at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market.
Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market is held in the back parking lot of Cottin’s Hardware & Rental, 1832 Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, Thursdays through October from 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm.