Public markets can revitalize communities, create economic opportunities for small entrepreneurs, increase access to healthy local foods, bridge urban and rural landscapes, and provide safe and sociable public gathering places. Truly successful markets can help create a critical mass of activity that enhances an entire area – they are not contrived theme parks, but real places.

PPS broadly defines public markets as:

  • Having public goals;
  • Located in and/or creating a public space in a community; and
  • Composed of local, independent owner-operated businesses.

Different types of markets include:

  • Open-air markets
  • Shed or covered markets
  • Indoor market halls
  • Market districts

While farmers markets are only one type of public market, they are the focus of this and subsequent newsletters. Farmers markets can take the shape of or be part of any of the above four market types.

Every state in the U.S. has farmers markets, with the number of markets growing 111% percent from 1994 to 2004, for a total of 3,706 markets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 66,700 farmers served 2.76 million customers in 2000. The volume of sales through direct from farmer to consumer markets (including farmers markets, on-farm purchasers, farm stands, etc.) in 2002 was $812 million, and was estimated to reach $1 billion in 2005 by the USDA.

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