Category Archives: farmers market

Where is the Oldest Continuously Operating Farmers Market in the Nation?

Q: Where is the Oldest Continuously Operating Farmers Market in the Nation?

A: The Lancaster Central Market in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The city of Lancaster owns the red brick building in which this nation’s oldest farmers market is housed. The market is open three days a week, all year long. This has been the spot of the market’s operation for over 275 years. The three oldest farm stands housed there have been there for 100, 80, and 60 years, and many more have been operating there for at least two generations.

The Lancaster Central Market is in the heart of Amish country. Some of the popular items for sale in this social gathering spot and tourist destination are Pennsylvania Dutch Sausage, scrapple, head cheese, preserves, chowchow, pickles, and fresh, local foods.

Local outlets that befriend the local farmer by providing a trusted place where they can market their produce and other products helps the small farmer become successful and secure. But the benefit doesn’t just go to the farmers. Markets such as this are a great cultural addition to a town or community, too.

Next, are a few photos to help tell the story.


Photo: FlickrCC via Maureen McLaughlin


Photo: FlickrCC via Tom Ipri


Photo: USDA


To learn more go to Market site: http://www.centralmarketlancaster.com

A Taste Of Farming In Maine

You can’t get more land-locked than Nebraska, where I grew up. So I find going to Maine and seeing the very different ways of life and livelihoods through food in that state fascinating. Mainers also exhibit a special vibe, a vibe that feels very real, genuine, simple and good.

Here are a few photos from early September in Maine to help you get a feel for what I felt while there.

It was pure luck to stumble upon the Brunswick, Maine farmers market, the oldest farmers market in the state, other than Portland’s. Two women were selling lobsters for $4.49 a pound, less than hamburger at today’s prices. Much of this trip was about lobster, eating it, watching the hard working lobstermen, and seeing the lobster traps set up. A neighbor acquaintance here in Boulder who grew up in Maine likes to say that “You knew who the poor kids were in school because they had lobster in their lunch buckets.”

This is the fella that I enjoyed visiting with the most at the Brunswick market. His name is Dick Keough and he farms on seven acres, with four hoop houses. I noticed that he was selling baby lettuces so I asked if they were for those who have winter gardens in Maine, knowing that the legendary four season gardening expert, Eliot Coleman, hails from these parts. My suspicions proved correct, as Keough is a big winter gardener and is a friend of Coleman’s. He said that they use eight (or more) layers of plastic in the coldest winter time periods, including bubble wrap – in their winter hoop houses. A key piece of knowledge is that there are 27 winter vegetables that can tolerate being frozen, so if you stick with those in your winter hoop gardens in Maine, and figure out the art and science balanced with the right amount of attentiveness, winter vegetable growing there can be a success.

When I asked Keough why he had such strong nice fall rhubarb, he credited fertilizing it with Espoma Plant-Tone which he uses for his other vegetables, too. Plant-Tone is an all-organic fertilizer containing beneficial soil microbes. Keough is a seasoned gardening expert who has participated in the Brunswick farmers market for 27 years, and he told me that it is obvious to see how Maine’s climate is changing. He said that in recent years he only uses a snowblower about three times per winter, whereas this area used to get lots of snow all winter-long.

Other interesting things that I noticed at the Brunswick farmers market were the low cost for eggs at only four dollar per dozen. Here in Boulder at our farmers market they often cost six dollars per dozen. One stand was selling their own home made cider vinegar. One stand sold grass-fed beef. I spoke with its farmer, Dennis Wilk of “King and I Angus” and he explained to me that nearly all beef raised in the region is “grass-fed” due to the nature of the land, the small farm sizes, and, I suppose, the lack of organized large-scale industrial feedlots and cattle markets. How nifty is that?

Dick Keough told me that sometime, I must allow a day to visit Pineland Farms in New Gloucester. It is a 5,000-acre working farm that demonstrates responsible farming techniques.

This scene is near the children’s garden at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens at Boothbay. Though the 270-acre garden is relatively new, it has already become one of the main tourist attractions along the coast.

This is a stack of lobster cages in Portland near two of our favorite lobster/fish shacks, The Porthole, and J’s Oyster. Yummm.

Popham Beach was reasonably uncrowded and we walked its entire length. This was the view of an island right across from it that had a house on it. Years ago I read the 1896 book, The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett who captured the mood of Maine island living so well. I stared and stared at the island and the home, trying to imagine what it would be like to live there. I must re-read Jewett’s book sometime soon. Maine is all about a “mood”, especially if you live there in its difficult weather and moody forest all the year-round. It is a very special place.

3 Picks: Sustainable Cities, Floating Farmers Market, Freshii


Food Gardens, Channels, Vertical Farms – Shanghai Sustainable Masterplan

Below, are today’s three chosen agricultural-related news picks.

1) Cities are on the front lines of climate change: By Stephen Leahy. “With the backing of their residents, many cities and towns around the world are becoming cleaner, greener and better places to live by banning cars, improving mass transit, reducing energy use and growing their own food while adding public and green spaces. “Getting cities right solves many problems,” Register said. Cities are truly ground zero for action on climate change, protection of ecosystems, biodiversity, energy use, food production and more because that’s where most people live today, he said. Cities consume about 75 percent of the world’s energy and resources. They are directly or indirectly responsible for 75 percent of global carbon emissions…”

2) Floating farmers market to revive historic trade route: By Amy Langfield. “A trade route used by the Mohawks, missionaries, fur traders and colonists will take a step toward revival this weekend as the Vermont Sail Freight Project embarks on a 330-mile journey downriver, stopping at historic river towns along the Hudson. They’ll pick up cargo from 30 farmers and sell it at pop-up markets on its way to New York…”

3) Freshii saves energy, water, and chemicals: By Dan Rowe. “Freshii is unique in that they use no dishwashers, hoods, ranges or ovens, reducing the footprint left by their restaurants. To eliminate the need for dishwashers, they have opted for 100 percent biodegradable food-safe mixing bags to create their salads and custom rice/noodle bowls, which in total—including the production and transportation of the bags to Freshii restaurants—use less than five times the electricity of even the most energy efficient dishwashers…”

This news post was written and compiled by K. McDonald.

About the Photo: Part of the Sustainable Urban Masterplan for Shanghai, this image shows the channels with pedestrian and slow traffic lanes on the right, and urban food gardens on the left. The channel transports water from vertical farm to vertical farm, cooling the city and being filtered through various plants and organisms along the way. Two vertical farm buildings sit in the background, these farms supply sustainable energy, fresh water and food to 50.000 people in a range of one kilometer around their center. The open lower floors of the tower in the middle serves as a community garden, where residents can grow their own spices and specialty crops.

Farmers Markets Locate in Metro Areas and Continue to Grow in Number


San Francisco Farmers Market

It is not easy nor is it a financial windfall to become a farmers market producer. For entry level producers or “greenhorns”, it is important to pick a smart location that has a receptive public, à la consumer.

Market growers have a large amount of preparation required before they load their products, drive sometimes great distances to their market, set up their display, sit through all kinds of weather, and then wait to see if the consumer antes up before they pack up their perishables to return home. CSA (community supported agriculture) contracts are a more secure income for these producers.

The number of farmers markets in the U.S. has increased more than four-fold since 1994, when the USDA began keeping track of their numbers. In August of 2012, there were 7,828 farmers markets operating in the United States. Nearly forty percent of the nation’s farmers markets are in metro areas which have a reliable consumer base.

The highest concentration of markets are found in California, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The red areas in the map below show where the greatest increase in the number of farmers markets has occurred over the past four years.

In related news, the USDA has announced that it will begin to provide micro loans of up to $35,000 to help small farmers, minorities, veterans, and “disadvantaged” producers start-up farm operations.

The program can be used to finance hoop houses to extend the growing season, essential tools, irrigation, delivery vehicles, and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution expenses. As their financing needs increase, applicants can apply for an operating loan up to the maximum amount of $300,000.

When announcing the loan program, Vilsack said that the “USDA continues to help grow a new generation of farmers, while ensuring the strength of an American agriculture sector that drives our economy, creates jobs, and provides the most secure and affordable food supply in the world.”

As we all know, the above statement is a stretch of the truth at best, because today’s high land prices and rents which result from policies of crop insurance, direct payments for monoculture crops produced by very large farms, and the corn ethanol mandate, are reasons that it is next to impossible for a “greenhorn” to begin a farming operation. While access to credit is important, being able to turn out a profit is even more important.

Since the average age of the farmer in the U.S. is 57, and the fastest growing segment is the over-65 age group, it is clear that we need younger replacement farmers. And the new and underemployed generation of capable workers includes many who would like to enter the occupation of farming.

What a new generation of farmers really needs is policy support in the next Farm Bill. “Get big or get out” continues to be the dominant trend in agriculture in the U.S.