You can count on the Evanston Farmers Market Manager, Myra Gorman, to be in step with the latest rules and regulations for best practices at the market. But here’s a case where Myra is just following what has been in our ordinance since 2011.
This season you’ll notice more signs at the farmer stands informing consumers specifically where the produce is coming from. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING. When the Farmers Market Ordinance was rewritten in 2010, Friends did our homework and discovered that a best practice for markets allowed, actually encouraged, cooperative selling. This just means that farmers can grow and sell cooperatively with just one of the farmers bringing the produce to the market. Why do this? There are many reasons but the primary one is to protect small farms. Also, many farmers grow wonderful food but can’t make it to markets-they’re too small to afford the time and fees required. Sometimes, one farmer, just miles away can grow a product better. Most farms can’t produce all things.
And research is informing us that small farms are worth protecting. The Institute for Food and Development Policy (www.foodfirst.org) has reviewed many studies that conclude small farms are more productive. The trick here is in the understanding of how yields are measured. Usually we hear about how many bushels per acre are produced. But that definition suits large, monoculture farms, those with just one crop. But, in practice, small farms will have many crops in an acre. Which brings us to why that’s better for the environment. The large monoculture farms control the weeds that would occupy the bare ground between rows with pesticides and herbicides. Small farms use crop mixtures to prevent weed growth. These small farms are more likely to rotate crops and to use cover crops to nourish their family-owned land. A better comparison of small and large monoculture farms is total output-the sum of everything grown. Check out foodfirst’s report at this link.
SO, WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO WELCOME FARMERS TO EVANSTON ON SATURDAY, MAY 7, KNOWING THAT YOU ARE SUPPORTING A BEST PRACTICES MARKET, HEALTHY FOOD, AND A HEALTHIER ENVIRONMENT!