As the summer draws to a close, remember to cast a ballot in the American Farmland Trust’s fourth annual America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest. Simply vote online, but do so soon, because the deadline to do so is midnight Eastern Time on September 3. Four winning markets—one small, one medium, one mid-size and one large—will receive the title of America’s Favorite Farmers Market for 2012. The goal of the contest is to highlight the role that farmers markets play in keeping family farmers on the land. The byproduct is to encourage local farmers to sell at markets and consumers to shop there.
“Farmers markets provide opportunities for family farmers to connect with consumers and sell produce directly,” said American Farmland Trust President Jon Scholl. “They bring a level of economic viability to farmers while offering delicious local foods and fun gathering spots that brighten the summer.”
Of course, I’m casting my vote for the fabulous Boulder County Farmers’ Market, and you can consider this an endorsement in the hopes that you will do so too. But supporting the farmers’ market movement is actually the most important reason to vote. According to the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest rules, people can vote for as many participating farmers markets as they choose, but can only vote for each market once. I actually couldn’t figure out how to do that, but maybe you’re smarter than I.
Voters also have the opportunity to explain what’s special about the market they selected. The four winning markets should get some good publicity and also will receive a plaque from American Farmland Trust. A certificate will also be awarded to the top vote-getters in each state. In addition to casting a modest spotlight on winning markets, the Farmers Market Inspiration Award carrying a $1,000 grand prize honors a farmer-producer whose essay best illustrates why farmers markets matter to their farm, family and community. Runner up prizes will also be awarded.