Farmers Market Boosts Local Economy
About ten people were waiting in line Monday before farmer Ronda Thiessen began to sell the fresh peaches from her own farm. A few more shoppers were gathering in front of a vendor to buy tomatoes. The prosperity of the Columbia Farmers Market has excited many mid-Missouri farmers, who come to sell the produce from their farms. In the last few years, the farmers markets in Columbia have grown into must-go spots for many grocery buyers where they may choose from a variety of products ranging from baked goods and farm-raised beef to honey and garden plants.
Columbia Farmers Market is one of many farmers markets that are thriving across the state. According to a recent study, the number of Missouri farmers markets has doubled in the past decade, from about 70 in 1999 to more than 140 in 2009. That growth can be easily observed in Columbia, which has witnessed its farmers markets expand to a few locations, including a new monthly farmers market on the MU campus. This summer, the Columbia Farmers Market opened a new location beside the Forum Christian Church in order to meet the needs of shoppers.
More farmers have found it a wise approach to market directly to their communities, and that keeps the money from those sales in their communities. Local farmers will, in turn, spend their revenue where it will stimulate other local businesses. Vera Gelder is one of those vendors. Running Walk-About Acres, a small diversified farm, local farmers come to the fair each week to sell honey and other farm-raised produce. "For every dollar spent, they give at least three times back to the community by (spending) over and over. It is helpful to our local economy," Gelder said.
Kellee Skouby was a shopper who had been to a number of farmers markets in the United States. She loved Thiessen's peaches so much that she came to Columbia Farmers Market twice in three days' time. "Columbia has one of the best farmers markets in the country. Everyone should come and enjoy it," Skouby said with a smile.