April 29, 2010

2010 Missouri Farmers' Market of the Year Named in Fair Grove

At an event in Fair Grove, Mo., Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler named the Fair Grove Farmers' Market the state's best in 2010 - an honor awarded each year to a farmers' market that sets the example of adding value to their communities and connecting farmers to consumers through fresh, local foods. The Fair Grove Farmers' Market was applauded for its youth programs, educational outreach and producer development efforts.

"The Fair Grove Farmers' Markets exemplifies how to maintain a successful market, offer fresh, locally-grown produce and provide programs to reach out to youth and their community," said Dr. Hagler. "Farmers' markets provide an affordable option for consumers to get to know the folks who produce their food. In doing so, these markets place a high quality product on consumer's tables and more dollars in the producer's pockets which is beneficial to both farmers and consumers."

Located under a pavilion at the historic Wommack Mill in downtown Fair Grove, the market entered its eleventh season last week. The market is open every Wednesday in 2010 through Oct. 6, from 3:30 until 7 p.m. A "growers only" market, all goods sold (including crafts) are required to be produced by the vendor presenting them. 

In addition to locally-sourced foods, flowers and crafts for sale, the Fair Grove Farmers' Market regularly provides entertainment and demonstrations. Food service is also available from the market's certified kitchen and children can learn about gardening at the market's "Growing with Kids" program.

"It is such an honor to be recognized as the finest farmers' market in the state," said Debra VanBenthusen, manager of Fair Grove Farmers' Market. "The Market members have worked so hard in the past few years to increase the awareness and importance of farmers' markets. This award means so much to our community."

In addition to naming the Farmers' Market of the Year, other Missouri farmers' markets were recognized in a number of categories:

  • Best Advertising/Marketing Campaign - Fair Grove Farmers' Market was recognized for its integrated use of print advertising, web content and direct marketing tactics, as well as original, creative artwork to promote the market.
  • Best Photo - Webb City Farmers' Market won for visual documentation illustrating the importance of a farmers' market to its patrons and community.
  • Best Event - De Soto Farmers' Market took statewide honors for "Meet Me at the Market," an event that educated community participants on recycling, local foods and gardening.
  • Champions of the Year - Sue DeWitt of Marshfield Farmers' Market and Pastor Darlene Payne of De Soto Farmers' Market shared top individual recognition for dedicated service and commitment to their respective markets. DeWitt organized the Marshfield Farmers' Market six years ago with only six vendors and now manages a market with more than 50 members. Described as an inspiration to vendors, patrons and the De Soto community, Payne was recognized for her positive and energetic approach.

The Farmers' Market of the Year is sponsored annually by AgriMissouri and the Missouri Farmers' Market Association. AgriMissouri, a program within the Missouri Department of Agriculture, promotes Missouri-grown agricultural products and assists producers in developing markets. The Missouri Farmers' Market Association provides training and other services for community markets in Missouri.  For more information about farmers' markets, including a complete listing of farmers' markets in Missouri, log on to mda.mo.gov or agrimissouri.com.

Photos of the event are available at flickr.com/moagriculture.