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Market on the Square: Marshall's contribution to larger trendPosted Sunday, June 13, 2010, at 2:41 PM
David Keuhn, left, and son Ethan prepare a quantity of black raspberries for a customer Saturday, June 12, at Market on the Square in Marshall. (Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
"The number of Missouri farmers markets has doubled in the past decade, from about 70 in 1999 to more than 140 in 2009," writes Roger Meissen, senior information specialist.
Marshall's Market on the Square is one of the recent additions -- 2009 was its first full season.
Meissen quotes Mary Hendrickson, a University of Missouri Extension community food systems expert:
"More farmers have started marketing directly to their communities, and that means the money from those sales stays in their communities. We've seen direct-to-consumer sales from farmers increase nearly 70 percent in 10 years after being adjusted for inflation."
He also notes that markets are not only growing in number but in size, citing Columbia's farmers market, which has expanded to a number of locations in the city.
Market on the Square is young and informal. I'm not sure it will -- or even should -- grow exponentially like Columbia's market. But organizers would welcome more participation, from vendors and patrons. The second full season has gotten off to a good start, with a stable core of regular vendors and a number of vendors who attend when they can, bringing variety to the offerings.
The nice thing about being small and informal is the ease of entry. There are no fees or reservations required. Anyone who wants to sell can bring a table and chair and set up shop any Saturday morning.
And vendors don't have to be farmers, as in the people who produce food on big farms. Small backyard farmers are welcome, too. Anyone who happens to have more berries than they can eat (or, later, more tomatoes or zucchini or sweet corn, etc.) can bring their bounty to the market and sell it.
Meissen's article quotes a Columbia market customer:
"Buying my food here makes me feel healthier and I think it would be better for everyone if we all started buying locally grown foods," said Margaret Wilson, an MU senior.
Me, too. We buy as much each week as we can possibly eat. It's good stuff.
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Eric Crump is a former editor of The Marshall Democrat-News. He lives elsewhere now but still loves Marshall and Saline County. He's trying to catch up on all the stories he should have written while he was on staff.
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