COLUMBIA - The Columbia Farmers Market has been recognized as the No. 1 farmers market in the nation.
The market was ranked No. 1 "People's Choice" in the nation, No. 1 in the Midwest region, and No. 1 in Missouri.
"I'm very excited and really grateful for the support this community has showed us," Columbia Farmers Market Executive Director Corrina Smith said.
The voting for this accomplishment was part of the 13th annual America's Farmers Market Celebration, which ran from June 21 through Sept. 19.
American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition ran the event, which reached over 1 million engagements over three months and over 2,000 markets participated.
According to American Farmland Trust's website, the competition showcased “the essential markets across the nation making a difference for farmers, ranchers, and communities."
Along with the recognition, the Columbia Farmers Market was awarded $2,500 for placing first. Smith stated that the money will go toward the operation costs due to the high fee of running such a large market.
"That money will help us to continue to manage our program," Smith said.
The Columbia Farmers Market topped the nation offering over 70 vendors, all which make products no farther than a 50-mile radius of Columbia.
"It's a personal mission to be a champion for the Columbia Farmers Market," Michelle La Fata, owner of the vendor Pasta La Fata, said.
La Fata contributes the market for giving her the platform to showcase her business.
"It was just me and a TV folding table," La Fata said when explaining her first experience as a vendor. "Now I bring a 15-foot truck and four employees."
As more businesses grow in success and more vendors come to the market, there will be a need for expansion with the current pavilion used. Only a third of the vendors can currently sit under a roof.
In 2019, the MU Health Care Pavilion was built under Phase 1 of construction. Smith said Phase 2 will begin soon, where the pavilion will expand its wings to provide roofing for all of the vendors.
Oxford, Mississippi's farmers market took second place while Monroe, Connecticut's farmers market won third place.
If you would like to visit the nationally ranked market, it runs throughout the year, currently on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. More information can be found on its website.