Category Archives: Healthy

Fayetteville Farmers Market, Crown Jewel of the Community

The Fayetteville Farmers Market was founded nearly 40 years ago by a group of active farmers and gardeners looking for an opportunity to sell their goods to the community in the third largest city in Arkansas. The group worked with the community and formed a partnership with the city to host a farmers market on the downtown city square. Now with four markets a week and more than 100 vendors, the Fayetteville market draws over 250,000 visitors eager to purchase local food. The market serves as a regular community event and a gathering location for residents. It’s the place to be on a Saturday morning and the vendors make regular donations back into the community. For these reasons and more, the Fayetteville Farmers Market is one of the winners of this year’s America’s Favorite Farmers Market competition in the large category.

The market started in 1974 and is now open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday mornings around the historic Downtown Square. There is also a smaller Sunday market held at the Botanical Garden right along the Lake Fayetteville pedestrian trail. The Saturday market is known as the “Crown Jewel of Fayetteville,” and comes to life with street performers on every corner, local musicians, and community organizations and politicians promoting their projects and positions.

“It’s a family outing as well as a place to meet up with friends,” said Lori Boatright, the market’s Public & Media Coordinator. “It’s not just a place to buy the freshest food available, it’s a party every weekend.”

The entertainment and community vibe is not the only thing that draws people to the market, it’s also the locally grown and produced food. There are several produce vendors, while meat vendors sell beef, chicken, lamb, pork, and eggs. You’ll also find a variety of trees, plants, and shrubs, including some native species. The northwest of Arkansas offer a long and diverse growing seasons; farmers grow a variety of berries, apples, pears, and peaches, and more than 20 varieties of tomatoes. Eggplant and bok choy are regularly available and the market is proud to offer one of the only Animal Welfare Approved farms in the state.

“What began as a place for people to access local food has become the place to be on Saturday morning,” Boatright said. “The community has a very special place in their heart for the market. The market is also proud of our community partnerships with the city and with other area businesses and non-profits.”

Market organizers work hard to raise awareness of food insecurity in the community while vendors have donated more than 20,000 pounds of produce this season to local food pantries and kitchens. The market also plays an important role in the economic development of the community with monies spent in the community staying in the community. For the vendors, the market offers a place to sell their goods, but it’s also a place for educational opportunities and food safety information.

“We are so proud to be America’s Favorite Farmers’ Market,” Boatright said. “We hope that this title assists us in bringing even more awareness to small scale agriculture and its place in our communities.” Market organizers are also looking to expand opportunities to offer customers in other parts of town access to locally grown food.

Also, be sure to check out The Food Network show, The Great Food Truck Race, and their visit to the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market.

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A 2012 Farm Bill Almanac

Predictions for upcoming seasons are laid out each year in the pages of The Old Farmer’s Almanac — charting the sun, moon, tides and past weather records to forecast the year ahead. With that in mind, we’ve done some calculations of our own and gauged the temperature of discussions surrounding farm and food policy for the 2012 Farm Bill.

Should the stars align, here are our predictions for topics to anticipate during the farm bill reauthorization process this spring.

Deficits and Cuts

The national deficit continues to loom overhead and the debate over the 2012 Farm Bill will be dominated like few others this century by deficit pressure. Every section of the legislation will be affected, but by how much we do not know. However, we do know that the deal to increase the debt ceiling means the farm bill will be cut by about $15 to $16 billion as a result of automatic sequestration. These cuts will most likely be the starting point—and not the end point—for final numbers.

Safeguarding the Environment

For conservation, 2012 will be a year when climate and environmental issues establish new trends and challenges. Dramatic weather events in 2011 created highs and lows in American agriculture, and coming years will be no exception. The discussion will focus on how to make conservation programs more efficient while equipping farmers with conservation tools and programs to meet environmental challenges and regulatory burdens.

With conservation programs having already contributed more than $2 billion to the nation’s deficit reduction through appropriations cuts, we think the farm bill debate this spring should center on promoting conservation funding without the threat of additional cuts. Conservation programs are too valuable to lose now—and for our future.

The Future of Farm Support Programs

Caught up in the budget belt-tightening are proposals to alter farm support, or subsidy, programs. For the first time in two decades, it is likely that direct payments will be eliminated. What will replace them is unclear, but the debate is currently focused on the appropriate role of government in helping farmers address risk.

We believe that  new safety net programs must protect farms from risks they can’t control, while also minimizing the programs’ influence on the economic and environmental behavior of farmers. The debate will be vigorous but we believe it will be critical to creating a farm support system that works effectively for both farmers and consumers.

Who Will be Farming and Stewarding the Land?Woman farmer and child looking out of a barn

Now more than any time since the end of World War II, it’s important for the nation to have a serious discussion about the generational and gender shifts happening in American agriculture.

According to the 2007 U.S. Census of Agriculture, there are more than five times as many farmers at age 65 and older as there are 35 and younger. As the overall farm population ages, the influence of female landowners is predicted to rise.— 70 percent of farmland is expected to change hands in the next 20 years, with women potentially ending up  owning most of it. While we face the critical question of how land will be transitioned, at the same time we see the rise of young adults looking to start careers in agriculture but facing challenges securing land and succeeding in farming.

It will be difficult for farm policy leaders to ignore the changing demographics in agriculture. We think changes in land ownership, land stewardship and the engagement of young and beginning farmers in agriculture should be part of the discussion as Congress addresses programs for farmland protection, farm viability, and conservation.

Strengthening America’s Farm and Food System

Lawmakers will need to look systematically at what rural development policy is supposed to do to help today’s rural America.

The 2012 Farm Bill can be a catalyst to help rural America by finding ways to stimulate new market opportunities for agriculture and further support for local and regional food systems. Consumer demand for local food continues to rise, and farm policy can play a critical role in helping farmers provide it.

A Healthier Nation

Public health and nutrition, and the intersection with agriculture, is currently at the forefront of national interest. Amid on-going conversations about public health and chronic diseases is a focus on the availability of fresh, healthy food.

The connection between healthier diets and agricultural production is very real and easy to see. The demand for healthy food opens markets for agricultural products and potentially  helps keep farmers farming. Less clear, but no less important, is the role that public health demands may play in   local and regional food systems. The next farm bill presents the opportunity to explore public health while also creating market opportunities for farmers. We think 2012 will be the beginning of a long term trend of a new public health constituent group in the farm bill.

The forecast for the 2012 Farm Bill will take the direction of real forces shaping farm and food policy. As discussions around the 2012 Farm Bill get underway in Washington, we’ll be asking supporters of America’s farms and food to learn more, speak up and be heard.

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Test Your Farm and Food IQ

With farms and food being influencing us each and every day, we have created a quiz to help enhance your knowledge of these topics. See how much you can learn by answering these eight short questions, then impress your family and friends with your new found information. Good luck!

[polldaddy survey=”F2CC2E8047C71E9F” type=”button” title=”Test Your Farm and Food IQ” style=”rounded” text_color=”FFFFFF” back_color=”5E280D”]

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Suggested Summer Reading for Friends of Farms and Food

As the dog days of summer kick in, one of our favorite pastimes is catching up on reading about farm and food issues—ideally alongside a pool, beach or lake. Even if there is no water-based vacation in your future, we hope you get a chance to lounge in a yard or park—or even next to a fan somewhere indoors—while perusing one of the many latest books about farms, conservation and local food. Here we offer five reading suggestions from staff at American Farmland Trust.

DirtDirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, William Bryant Logan

In this collection of essays, arborist and gardening writer William Bryant Logan explains why the Earth’s soil is so special—and why it’s essential to life as we know it. In elegant prose, Logan describes how our planet’s dirt—a resource we lose when farmland is developed or farmed without the necessary conservation practices—is fragile, but must be protected because we owe our very lives to it.

TENDER:farmers,cooks,eaters: Simple Ways to Enjoy Eating, Cooking and Choosing Our Food, Tamara Murphy

This coffee-table-book-sized collection of recipes and meditations on cooking by Northwest chef Tamara Murphy is the perfect resource for anyone who likes to shop at farmers markets. Murphy, a James Beard Award winner, reminds us that simple is often best when we cook with real food grown by local farms, and her recipes—many containing only a few ingredients—celebrate healthy, whole, seasonal farm-fresh goods.

Fair FoodFair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All, Oran Hesterman

The food system is broken, argues Dr. Oran Hesterman, who runs the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based nonprofit Fair Food Network. Agricultural runoff into waterways, soaring rates of obesity and diet-related illnesses, and chronic loss of farmland to urban and suburban sprawl are all symptoms. In this book, Hesterman offers a vision for fixing the problems by changing not just what we eat but how our food is grown and sold—and by shifting the public policy that shapes much of our current farm and food system.

In the Small KitchenIn the Small Kitchen: 100 Recipes from Our Year of Cooking in the Real World, Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine

A recent article tagged the current generation the “gourmet generation,” as young people increasingly are being more food-aware and interested in the issues surrounding local farms and food. This cookbook by two young authors is a good place to start for budding young food enthusiasts, especially for those who live in cramped dorm rooms or urban apartments with little access to expensive cooking gear.

American Farmland MagazineAmerican Farmland magazine

What would a summer reading list be if we didn’t plug ourselves? Stay on top of the latest issues in farm and food policy—and receive more in depth information about what American Farmland Trust is up to as we fight to save the land that sustains us, by subscribing to our thrice-a-year full color magazine.

P.S. You can never read too many great books. If we missed your favorite summer farm and food read, leave us a comment on our summer book list post!

Kirsten Ferguson
About the Author: Kirsten Ferguson is Editor/Writer for American Farmland Trust. She works in the Saratoga, NY office and can be reached at

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The Quest to Find America’s Favorite Farmers Markets!

It’s summertime and that means two things: 1) There are loads of delicious farm fresh produce available at farmers markets all around the country, and 2) American Farmland Trust has kicked off the third annual America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest!

The contest is a nation-wide challenge for communities to rally support for their farmers markets. The goal is to promote the connection between fresh, local food and the farms and farmland that supply it. When the contest ends on August 31st at midnight, one small, medium, large, and boutique farmers market will win the title of “America’s Favorite Farmers Market” for 2011. The reward for the winning market in each category will be a shipment of No Farms No Food® totebags, a feature article on the award winning foodsite, and other prizes from our partners and sponsors.

Here is what a few recent voters had to say about why their farmers market is special:

Why should you support farmers markets?

There are many reasons to shop at your farmers market, but one of the most important is the fact that nearly one million acres of farmland get paved over each year – most around cities where there is the greatest demand for food.

Make headlines for your local farmers markets!

Help bring the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™ contest to your community by spreading the word or writing about the contest on your blog. You can use our free buttons and our new comments widget to spread the word.

About the Author: Gretchen Hoffman is Manager of Engagement and Communications at American Farmland Trust.  She can be reached at

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