In an age when food is commonly flown thousands of miles from where it was grown, visiting a farmers market is a revelation for shoppers looking for a more personal connection to their food.
The Farmers Market Authority (FMA) plays a key role in providing Alabama with fresh, nutritious produce. The FMA fosters the growth of farmers markets, connects farmers with markets and promotes markets to consumers.
“The mission of the FMA is to advocate for the interest of farmers and educate them about the benefits of direct marketing, and to educate consumers about the importance of supporting local agriculture” says Don Wambles, FMA director.
With access to a vast network of producers, markets, restaurants and vendors, FMA creates opportunities for farmers to sell their wares to local restaurants and other sales outlets.
“In 1999, there were only 17 farmers markets in Alabama. Today, there are 148,” Wambles says. “That growth is due solely to the Farmers Market Authority program implementation.”
Consumers are easily able to locate farmers markets in their community by searching the FMA website for markets by county. Meeting the farmer directly gives customers confidence in the freshness and quality of the food they purchase.
“When you are buying it fresh and local, you can taste the difference,” Wambles says.
The FMA Nutrition Programs help producers meet the nutritional needs of their communities, regardless of their income.
Participating farmers accept coupons from “low-income seniors and nutritionally at-risk women and children,” giving them access to fresh produce and a healthier lifestyle.
The Farmers Market Authority is a lifeline between local farmers and consumers, creating a healthy economy and a healthy community.