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What are the reasons for lower numbers at Shepherdstown Farmer’s Market?

By Staff | Dec 12, 2008

I am writing in response to Allan Balliett’s article Nov. 21 Spade and Fork column “Farmers Market, new restaurant offer flavor, quality” in which he mentions Shepherdstonians have not patronized the Sunday Market in large numbers recently.

While not a true Shepherdstonian, I estimate that at least 50 percent of my family’s and my guests’ meals come directly from the market or other local farmers, so I do count myself as a supporter.

My observation might match Mr. Balliett’s in that there have been fewer attendees at the market in recent weeks, but it is truly the locals who are not patronizing the market? I have frequently asked if market leaders know if the tourists are buying, and how much.

From how far away do others come to shop at the market and what is their impact? I don’t make it to the market every week, so I buy for two or more weeks at a time, so does my absence reflect as “low support?”

While most consumers are struggling now with budgets streched thin, the positive approach is to help local people understand the long term financial benefits accrued from local shoping.

As Mr. Balliett points out, processed food from the industrial supply chain is simply not as nutritious, ramifications we will see later in ours and our children’s health.

Traffic at and stock in Wal-Mart is up because cheap food uses less whole food and more additives — and energy — to manufacture. Local whole food costs more because there is more “real food” for each dollar.

Shepherdstown could be a wonderful incubator for education given the diversity of folks in the area (and the merciful lack of a Whole Foods). If we understand better why traffic at the market was down in the waning months of the season (Cost, availability, choice, competition, accessibility, demographics of the buyer), then we might be in a better position to honor those farmers who are working their fingers to the bone. The local farmer is the key to our future good health: I agree we need to ensure their good business health as well.

Patricia Hamilton