The Emporia Farmers Market joins markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week, Sunday - Aug. 8.

Community members are encouraged to show their support by attending markets from 5 - 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 8:30 - 10;30 a.m. Aug. 8 at Seventh Avenue and Merchant Street.

These markets will feature special activities in celebration of the event including customer coupon giveaways, free vendor product samples, and a kids’ scavenger hunt.

In the midst of a global pandemic, farmers markets — like all other small businesses — have been scrambling to continue operations for the farmers and communities that depend on them. Market managers have been at the forefront of adapting rapid solutions and innovation to protect staff, customers, and community. When conventional food supply chains failed at the start of the pandemic, farmers markets and local food systems clearly displayed the resiliency of short supply chains and interest in local foods spiked nationwide.

National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration of farmers markets coordinated by the Farmers Market Coalition, a membership-based 503(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports farmers markets nationwide through training, technical assistance, and network-building. This year, the campaign is centered around the essential role that farmers markets play in the food system as demonstrated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Emporia Farmers Market began in 1982, and currently hosts over 50 local farmers, producers, bakers, and artisans selling a wide variety of products including fresh produce, farm fresh eggs, raw honey, jams and jellies, quality meat cuts, baked goods, unique gifts, and specialty foods. This year, due to public health recommendations regarding the pandemic, the market had to cancel several indoor markets and delay the start of the 38th outdoor season. Despite the interruption in regularly scheduled markets, the organization was able to successfully implement a CSA-style food bag program that supported market vendors by providing over 250 local customers and 25 low-income seniors with a variety of local foods through April and May.

Now that the regular outdoor market season has resumed, market sales have significantly increased from previous seasons with new vendors and customers attending each week. The market has seen additional success with their Lyon County markets in Allen (5 - 6:30 p.m. Thursdays), Americus (5 - 6:30 p.m. Fridays), and Olpe (5 - 6:30 p.m. Mondays) thanks to a partnership with Healthier Lyon County and the BCBS Pathways to a Healthy Kansas Initiative.

“Though this year has provided numerous challenges and changes, I am blown away by the support the community has shown our farmers markets and hardworking vendors. Our sales are the best they have been in over five years, and we have a fantastic variety of local produce, baked goods, specialty foods, and handmade items at our outdoor markets. Despite the challenges we all face, I think folks are understanding the importance of eating, shopping, and supporting our small businesses and ag producers, now more than ever,” commented Market Manager Jessica Hopkins.

The market also provides a variety of special shopper programs, including the Kansas Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program check vouchers for low-income seniors, Double Up Food Bucks for SNAP recipients, Market Bucks provided by the Emil Babinger Charitable Trust, and the ability to accept credit, debit and EBT cards.

“Farmers markets are essential to the life and livelihood of millions of shoppers and tens of thousands of farmers.” says Ben Feldman, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “But farmers markets don’t happen by accident. It takes the planning, organization, and execution of dedicated individuals and community organizations. That work is harder than ever and farmers markets and the vendors who sell at them need all the help they can get.“

For more information on farmers markets in Emporia, Allen, Americus, or Olpe contact 620-343-6555 or email emporiafm@gmail.com.

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