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Benefits of Farmers Markets

Discuss about the Literature Review for Farmers Markets.

Majority of research activity and studies pertaining to farmer’s markets has been limited to the scope of customer behavior and values. The concern for customer benefits in the research could be apprehended clearly in literature associated with farmer’s markets. The primary objective of a farmer’s market is vested in providing fresh food products of superior quality. A farmer’s market operates as a community business and provides opportunity to food producers and farmers to sell their raw farm produce or processed farm products directly to customers. The factors which influence the growth of farmer’s markets can be apprehended primarily in context of the benefits to customers, stakeholders and community and the operations of farmer’s market. Review of the literature provides a reasonable impression of the underlying implications of farmer’s market which could impose restraint on the market’s growth. Majority of citations in literature and research activity on farmer’s market have directed towards the distinct facets of farmers markets such as motivating factors for customers to attend farmer’s markets, stakeholder benefits and the limitations derived from the operations of farmer’s markets (Australia, 2014). The literature review also aims to find out the advantages and disadvantages of the present structure of operations followed in the farmer’s market in order to present an unbiased perspective on the research topic. The increase in popularity of farmers markets has been noted specifically in recent times with the integration of economic and social benefits for the community. As per Bishop & Pagiola, the applications of farmer’s market prove to be a substantial solution for consumer requirements of healthy lifestyle (Bishop & Pagiola, 2012). The preference of customers for naturally produced vegetables, fruits and farm products directly from the farmers and producers could be considered as a substantial motivation for improving the appeal of farmers markets. Statistically, research activities have indicated that farmers markets experience gradual increase in customers and hence the markets are associated with long term prospects for sustainability. Study of the operations of farmers markets indicate the regulations with which farmers markets have to comply and the manner of conducting the markets. According to Cassia et al, these factors are considered as crucial contributors to the efficiency of farmers markets (Cassia et al., 2012). Imperatively, the literature review facilitates opportunities for identifying gaps in previous studies which can be addressed. Contextual references to the nature of farmers market, the distinct traits in context of farmers and business stallholders, customers and social community account for the clarity pertaining to the factors which impinge on the performance of farmer’s markets in Australia. As per Connor et al., the specific guidance provided in the charters of regulatory authorities especially pertaining to classification of food products and definition of food market could be evaluated as complementary assistance for the growth of farmers markets (Connor et al., 2015). The emphasis on farmers markets all over the world could be characterized as an indicator of the prospects for sustainability of farmers markets. Therefore a comprehensive understanding of the literature provides further insights for approaching the benefits meant for customers by farmers markets. The different citations in literature also refer to the proliferation of agricultural economy as a result of increase in farmers markets (Connor et al., 2015).

Essential Characteristics of Farmers Markets

The popularity and growth of farmers markets are dictated by the benefits observed from them. The definition of farmers markets suggests the execution of markets on a weekly basis where food producers and farmers could interact directly with the customers and provide them with fresh products. According to Fielke & Bardsley, it is imperative to note that the definition emphasizes on the fresh quality of products and the direct interaction between farmer and customers. Furthermore, the definition also states the occurrence of a weekly event which facilitates social cohesion i.e. interaction within the community (Fielke & Bardsley, 2014). The economic benefits associated with farmers markets are ultimately realized when the stated conditions of farmers markets are fulfilled. The benefits of farmers markets can therefore by assumed as feasible sources for development of public spaces, rejuvenation of local neighborhoods and sustainability of local communities. As per Griffith & Watson, the wider implications of farmers markets in social and economic contexts are responsible for realizing appropriate benefits delivered by the markets (Griffith & Watson, 2016). The distribution of farmers markets in countries such as Australia has been increasing rapidly over the last few years since farmers markets are perceived as reliable contributors to the sustenance of equity in the food systems of a country. As per Larder, Lyons & Woolcock, 2014, the impact of farmers markets is not only felt in Australia but also in countries such as United Kingdom, USA, China and New Zealand (Larder, Lyons & Woolcock, 2014).

The essential factors for motivation of customers in context of farmers markets have been aptly identified in literature derived from studies and research activities. According to Millichamp & Gallegos, the wide assortment of factors necessary for the motivation of customers to increase their purchase of products from farmers market provides a variable approach to determine the factors impinging on the growth of farmers market (Millichamp & Gallegos, 2013). The primary motivations for customers identified in the benefits endowed by farmers markets include improved quality of food and food products as well as compliance with environmental interests in context of safety issues and practices implemented for food production. First of all, customers are aware of the production techniques when they interact with farmers and food producers which provide the opportunity for building trust between customers and producers. The excerpts from the communication between customers and producers also help customers to clarify several ambiguities related to product quality and factors for underlying issues in production. Meyer et al  said that, the preferences of customers in farmers markets for organic food are also considered as a potential driver for customer motivation as well as growth of farmers markets (Meyer et al., 2012). However, the changing trends indicate the emphasis of farmer’s market customers on farm origin products which are produced in the locality and are accessible within the local community. The products which are produced in nearby locations are categorized as ‘low food miles’ product and hence garner customer attraction unconditionally (O'CONNOR, Tribe & Givney, 2015). As per Page & Bellotti, The sustainable production of low miles food is also another prominent characteristic to be noticed with reference to the contribution of farmers markets to the environmental concerns due to promotion of farm products which are grown sustainably and do not have any detrimental effects on the environment (Page & Bellotti, 2015).

The benefits of farmers markets to producers should also be illustrated with reference to factors influencing the growth of farmers markets. Farmers markets create ingenuous opportunities for farmers to gain a share ranging from 30 to 70% on the returns from product. The advantage of farmers markets is noticed in comparison to retail markets and supermarkets where the returns for farmers account to meager shares of the retail price. The essential characteristic which determines the gap between farmers market and the retail sector is the absence of middlemen. According to Stockwell et al, the role of mediators is clipped off in case of farmers markets and hence farmers and food producers could be capable of reducing costs which could have been otherwise invested in transport, packaging, labeling and distribution (Stockwell et al, 2016). The other essential characteristic of farmers market is noticed in the nascent opportunities which could be used by local farmers and producers for boosting to the larger platform of business. The exposure of small scale producers to wholesale markets and retail sector is minimal and the implications of excessive intervention of mediators act towards aggravating the situation. Therefore, farmers markets provide chances to small scale producers to leverage their production capabilities for obtaining plausible returns on their investments. As per Wang, Qiu & Swallow, these small scale producers can gradually access the wholesale market only with the sustainability of farmers markets and increment in revenues earned by the producers on their investments. Farmers markets are also associated with social benefits especially directed towards community (Wang, Qiu & Swallow, 2014). The proliferation of farmers markets creates social precedents for protection of land values and implementation of sustainable land use practices. Farmers market emphasize on the sustainable development of land in order to accommodate farm production for future generations. The wider benefits which can be perceived in context of farmers market and concerned community include the creation of a local economy alongside potential increment of job opportunities. The establishment of farmers markets clearly suggests the proactive formation of rural communities which are responsible for fostering social cohesion. The execution of community meetings for holding the farmers market and increasing the attractiveness of farmers market in the community through reasonable measures is a formidable sign of positive outcome from the community. The perception of farmers market as a symbol of the community is also a potential driver for consumers to attend farmers markets since attendees perceive their contribution to the success of the farmers market as a reputation for the whole community. As per Zuo, Nauges & Wheeler, Creation of rural business facilitates credible opportunities for enhancing local economy (Zuo, Nauges & Wheeler, 2015). The farmers market acquires attraction of small scale producers and farmers from nearby rural regions of the community. This would account for inclusion of the rural producers in the local economy alongside integrating diverse range of products in the farmers markets. Establishment of institutions for supporting the farmers markets such as banks could contribute to the economical development of a community. Furthermore, the increasing size and popularity of farmers markets also serve as attractions for international tourists thereby providing adequate prospects for growth of the farmers market. As per Wheeler et al, the farmers markets prove to be appropriate social settings which have the ability to promote communal unity through a warm and affable atmosphere. The beneficial implications of farmers markets are not limited to customers only but extend further towards farmers and the related stakeholders (Wheeler et al., 2014). While customers can enjoy the benefits of fresh and seasonal farm origin products, they could also contribute to the development of small scale producers, family farmers and realize environmental commitments such as animal welfare and environmental protection. Environmental protection concerns are realized from the perspectives of both customers and farmers since the food system is improvised with the inclusion of farmers markets in the picture. The explicit damage to natural resources by conventional food systems followed in many countries are primarily derived from shipping, packaging and traditional agriculture methods. On the contrary, farmers markets imply minimal utilization of natural resources in production, packaging and distribution. The production methods followed by farmers markets do not impose any considerable impact on the environmental resources such as land and water. Furthermore, the chances of creation of waste from the farmers market activities is limited owing to the shorter distance of transport required in farmers markets (Zammit, 2013). The minimal scale of operations of farmers markets and the guidelines specified for farmer markets compliance with environment regulations also validate the minimal occurrence of agricultural waste.

The operations of farmers markets in Australia have also been noticed as a major factor influencing the growth of farmers markets. Literature pertaining to the operations of farmers markets would largely comprise of specific instructions which farmers must comply with while associating with a farmers market. The first set of guidelines pertaining to the farmer’s market operations can be derived from the definitions of farmers market. The farmers market must facilitate fresh food products of farm origin and raw produce to customers. According to Stockwell et al, essentially, the environment of the farmers market must be socially congenial with facilities for interaction between members of the community and therefore realize one of the objectives of farmers markets (Stockwell et al, 2016). The farmers market must be monitored by a community, the local government, co-operative, social organization, non-profit organization or organizations which can induce the environment for complying with the generic definition of a farmers market. Farmers markets are officially authorized by the relevant bodies of authority for certifying farmers markets. The operations of farmers markets involve clear indications of sale capabilities for producers, farmers and their family members or individuals who are directly associated with the manufacturing of the produce being sold (Page & Bellotti, 2015). Co-operatives have to acquire the special authentication from specific farmer’s market association. Another profound characteristic of the operations of farmers markets includes the limitations on reselling opportunities. The permission for reselling the produce as well as selling multiple products at a single stall is prohibited in a farmers market and hence enables competitive advantage for farmers and producers providing singular products. Millichamp & Gallegos said that, the establishment of a farmers market is under the discretion of the community, local government or concerned organization and farmers market is scheduled for once a day in every week. Generally the farmers market is set for Saturday owing to the availability of customers on that day (Millichamp & Gallegos, 2013). The markets are run for a duration of five to six hours with community service facilities such as playing provisions for children, chefs at stalls for giving demos on cooking and community hall for shelter in case of unnatural weather. The essential highlights of a farmers market are the products which include primary food products, specialty food products manufactured from farm origin produce, small livestock such as poultry, horticulture and floriculture products as well as value added food products. The provision of services such as umbrellas, water taps, tables and chairs are considered as mandatory aspects of a farmers market. Location of farmers market in a country is generally perceived in the suburbs of the city and small rural towns. The location of farmers market could also be considered as a minor setback for its growth since the preferences of urban people for organic food could provide ample scope for growth of farmers markets in urban areas. However, the lack of available space for farming and additional costs of transportation refrain small scale producers from establishing farmers markets in urban locations. As per Larder, Lyons & Woolcock, on the contrary, the location of farmers markets in rural areas contributes to the farmers as well as the rural areas since farmers markets would increase monetary returns on farmers’ produce which in turn would require monetary administration (Larder, Lyons & Woolcock, 2014). The provision of opportunities to farmhouses to earn additional money is also facilitated by the presence of farmers markets. The activities of a farmers market are considered as credible in nature due to sophistication of verification processes such as stallholder priority on the basis of geographical boundaries and the nature of the produce to be sold (Fielke & Bardsley, 2014). The liability of stallholders to comply with product and public insurance implications and state, national or local regulations related to food safety, quality and packaging is also responsible for increasing the reputation of farmers markets since they assure customers of food quality.   

Conclusion:

The literature review related to the factors influencing the growth of farmers markets was primarily concerned with the benefits acquired from farmers markets and the details of their operations. The activities of a farmers market are characterized with the relevant entities such as the type of recommended products for farmers market, eligibility of stallholders, definitions of farmers market and the associated individuals such as farmers, co-operatives, specialty producer, share farmers and market manager. On the other hand, the benefits of farmers markets resulted in social and economic contributions to the community in which farmers markets operate. Understanding the different implications of quality of food through the certification guidelines required to sell products in a farmers market provides the benefit of quality assurance to customers. The literature review also points out to formidable gaps such as minimal scope for expansion of farmers markets in rural areas and the ambiguous prospects of development of small scale producers into wholesale suppliers. Furthermore, concerns for customer benefits have been illustrated comprehensively while the concerns for involvement of the community in farmers markets have not been emphasized aptly in the literature.  

References 

Australia, D., (2014). Australian Dairy Industry. Dairy Australia. Available online: www. dairyaustralia. com. au/Industry-information/About-the-industry. aspx.

Bishop, J. and Pagiola, S. eds.,(2012). Selling forest environmental services: market-based mechanisms for conservation and development. Taylor & Francis.

Cassia, F., Ugolini, M., Bonfanti, A. and Cappellari, C., (2012). The Perceptions of Italian Farmers’ Market Shoppers and Strategic Directions for Customer-Company-territory Interaction (CCTI). Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 58, pp.1008-1017.

Connor, J. D., Bryan, B. A., Nolan, M., Stock, F., Gao, L., Dunstall, S., ... & Hatfield-Dodds, S. (2015). Modelling Australian land use competition and ecosystem services with food price feedbacks at high spatial resolution. Environmental Modelling & Software, 69, 141-154.

Fielke, S.J. and Bardsley, D.K., (2013). South Australian farmers’ markets: tools for enhancing the multifunctionality of Australian agriculture. GeoJournal, 78(5), pp.759-776.

Fielke, S.J. and Bardsley, D.K., (2014). The importance of farmer education in South Australia. Land Use Policy, 39, pp.301-312.

Griffith, G. and Watson, A., (2016). Agricultural markets and marketing policies. Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 60(4), pp.594-609.

Larder, N., Lyons, K., & Woolcock, G. (2014). Enacting food sovereignty: values and meanings in the act of domestic food production in urban Australia. Local Environment, 19(1), 56-76.

Millichamp, A. and Gallegos, D., (2013). Comparing the availability, price, variety and quality of fruits and vegetables across retail outlets and by area-level socio-economic position. Public health nutrition, 16(01), pp.171-178.

Meyer, S. B., Coveney, J., Henderson, J., Ward, P. R., & Taylor, A. W. (2012). Reconnecting Australian consumers and producers: Identifying problems of distrust. Food Policy, 37(6), 634-640.

O'CONNOR, B. A., Tribe, I. G., & Givney, R. (2015). A windy day in a sheep saleyard: an outbreak of Q fever in rural South Australia. Epidemiology and infection, 143(02), 391-398.

Page, G., & Bellotti, B. (2015). Farmers value on-farm ecosystem services as important, but what are the impediments to participation in PES schemes?. Science of the Total Environment, 515, 12-19.

Stockwell, B.R., Bradley, E., Davis, D. and Smith, J.,(2016). Peri-Urban Food Futures: Opportunities and Challenges to Reconfiguring Sustainable Local Agri-food Value Chains on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 4(1), pp.123-140.

Wang, H., Qiu, F. and Swallow, B., (2014). Can community gardens and farmers' markets relieve food desert problems? A study of Edmonton, Canada. Applied Geography, 55, pp.127-137.

Zuo, A., Nauges, C. and Wheeler, S.A., (2015). Farmers' exposure to risk and their temporary water trading. European Review of Agricultural Economics, 42(1), pp.1-24.

Wheeler, S., Loch, A., Zuo, A. and Bjornlund, H., (2014). Reviewing the adoption and impact of water markets in the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia. Journal of Hydrology, 518, pp.28-41.

Zammit, C., (2013). Landowners and conservation markets: Social benefits from two Australian government programs. Land Us

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