Farmers’ Markets

Flaccavento, Anthony. “Is Local Food Affordable for Ordinary Folks? A Comparison of Farmers Markets and Supermarkets in Nineteen Communities in the Southeast.” SCALE, Inc. November 1, 2011. (4 pages)

In regards to some criticisms of farmers’ markets as being “elitist,” in 2011, SCALE, Inc. conducted a study of twenty-four farmers’ markets throughout six states in Appalachia and the Southeastern United States. The findings showed that farmers’ markets closely compete with mainstream supermarkets, and this was demonstrated in their slightly lower prices comparative to that of the supermarkets. The majority of produce was less expensive at farmers’ markets than at mainstream supermarkets.


Harrison, Hannah Virginia. 2013 From farmer to market: The rhetorical construction of farmers in the local food movement. Masters Thesis. University of Louisville: UMI Dissertations Publishing. (91 pages)

This thesis is composed of two parts. First, the author deconstructs images and ideas regarding farmers, farming, and food movements in works by authors such as Michael Pollan and Wendell Berry. Second, the author examines the rhetoric used at a farmers’ market and two farm-to-table restaurants in Louisville. Harrison focuses on The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Memory of Old Jack, Fast Food Nation, and other books in her analysis of the imagery and identity of the farmer in food movements. She expands upon the theory by demonstrating how farmers are represented in the language, space, and physical objects found at these three locations.


Hayden, Callie Ann2013 Analyzing Healthy, Local Food Systems: A Case Study of Owensboro, Kentucky. Masters Thesis, College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky. (92 pages).

This study provided insight into the local food system in Owensboro, Kentucky. Though this study was specific to Owensboro, the author does a great job of outlining how to understand and analyze a community food system. Hayden makes reference to several other cities in Kentucky, including Louisville, which she feels are leading the state in terms of the local food movement. The author provides a questionnaire used to survey participants at local farmers’ markets and other local food distribution sites. The questionnaire allows readers to understand exactly how Hayden learned about the specifics of the Owensboro local food movement. Hayden not only discusses how to strengthen the local food movement in a given community, but also acknowledges the challenges involved with promoting this social and food movement.


Holcomb-Kreiner, Stephanie M. 2012 Explaining benefit utilization variability in FMNP in Kentucky: an application of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Sociology, University of Kentucky. (278 pages)

This paper explores the variable and often low benefit utilization of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) in Kentucky. The author uses the theoretical framework of Pierre Bourdieu to do so, and places emphasis on cultural capital being an important factor in determining benefit utilization. Drawing upon Bourdieu’s theory, the author argues that FMNP and SFMNP have variable utilization because those programs require participants to enter a realm of food acquisition to which they are not accustomed, as opposed to other federal assistance programs such as SNAP and WIC. The author further explains the lower utilization of FMNP compared to SFMNP: SFMNP participants had greater knowledge and skills about fresh food preparation, and thus, a substantially different cultural capital than the FMNP participants. Regionally, the amount of past experience in a certain realm also appears to impact redemption rates of both FMNP and SFMNP. The author provided policy recommendations to increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption by improving FMNP and SFMNP benefit utilization in Kentucky. They recommendations include:

  1. Increase opportunities for program participants to shop at farmers’ markets;
  2. Leverage social capital and local histories to increase other forms of capital in which participants are deficient;
  3. Implement efforts to increase cultural transmission of fresh fruit and vegetable preparation and consumption throughout broader segments of society.

Specifically, the author calls for local agencies to implement and expand recipe distribution to participants, increase the number and types of reminders regarding FMNP and SFMNP coupons, and to collaborate with one another. This author’s approach could prove particularly valuable to those interested in increasing the use of FMNP and SFMNP.


Markowitz, Lisa. 2010 Expanding Access and Alternatives: Building Farmers’ Markets in Low-Income Communities. Food & Foodways: History & Culture of Human Nourishment 18(1/2):66-80. (15 pages)

University of Louisville professor Dr. Lisa Markowitz focuses on the extent to which fresh foods from local farmers are made available and accessible to the most economically vulnerable populations in Louisville, KY. She characterizes farmers’ markets as being central in the civic efforts to re-localize agrifood systems as well as being places that engender a wider public awareness of food and farming. Her account traces the federal policies that community-based activists work to effectively implement, and she suggests that policy-makers and activists from other cities ought to focus on the process of creating successful farmers’ markets in low-income neighborhoods in order to institute more equitable local food economies.


Ryan, Brittany. 2013 Overcoming Barriers to Local Food Access: A Case Study. M.A. Dissertation, Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility, Western Kentucky University. (85 pages)

This paper is a case study on the barriers that exist for low-income populations in regards to obtaining local, whole, unprocessed foods from a farmers’ market in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The author focused on the city’s Community Farmers’ Market where she used surveys to collect data by interviewing individuals who received FMNP or SNAP benefits. Obstacles to obtaining healthy, local foods included: lack of reliable public transportation, particularly for the elderly, students, and low-income populations; location of the market; limited time, both that of the shoppers and the hours during which the market is open; price, with the general perception being that shopping at farmers’ markets is prohibitively expensive; and lack of knowledge about food and nutrition. The author proposes potential solutions to overcoming many of these obstacles, including the acceptance of SNAP and FMNP benefits to overcome price concerns, the introduction of a mobile market and the use of volunteer shoppers for the elderly to overcome transportation and location problems. Increased access to CSA programs could also be effective in regards to time frame difficulties. Finally, she suggests the use of publications to help increase patrons’ food knowledge and overcome education gaps.


Schmitz, Elizabeth Ann2010 Farmers’ Markets in Kentucky: A Geospatial, Statistical, and Cultural Analysis. Masters Thesis, Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University. (150 pages).

Schmitz examines the primary factors causing the growth of farmers’ markets in Kentucky and seeks to understand what exactly this growth can tell us. Schmitz feels that this growth of farmers’ markets indicates an emerging alternative food network in Kentucky, and shows a shift towards localization of the food supply. She found that farmers’ markets are more common in highly populated areas, while only 50% of small rural counties have farmers’ markets. Schmitz recognized that the growth in farmers’ markets across the state was supported or influenced by several factors, including: state funding for markets, shifting consumer response to food safety, education, and median household income.


2012 Growing a Farmer’s Market in Your Neighborhood: Recommendations for Success. Practice Guide 29. Louisville: University of Louisville Department of Sociology, Center for Environmental Policy and Management, Environmental Finance Center: Serving EPA Region 4. (20 pages)

Written by Allison Smith and Daniel Weinstein, former graduate research assistants from the University of Louisville’s Center for Environmental Policy and Management, this practice guide serves as a starting point for those interested in opening a farmer’s market. Although short, this guide provides a good deal of information on the what, why, and how of farmer’s markets. Especially helpful are the tips from case studies that provide the avid entrepreneur with ways to enhance the atmosphere, community, and products of farmer’s markets. From establishing, running, managing, and marketing, this guide suggests what to do and what not to do in a farmer’s market to be successful. This guide is a bit limited in that is serves as a familiarizing piece and is not comprehensive, but it provides numerous links to resources about funding a farmer’s market in Kentucky.


Woods, Timothy. 2010 Kentucky Farmers’ Market Association: Technology and Food Safety Project. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service Report. University of Kentucky Department of Agricultural Economics. pages)

This report investigates the use of electronic exchange technology (debit cards, SNAP benefits/EBT) at farmers’ markets in the state, and focuses especially on rural areas. The report also focuses on the effects of giving out product samples on subsequent sales and customer interest at the farmers’ markets. The study of EBT/debit included five different farmers’ markets which were using electronic exchange technology, along with a control group which featured farmers’ markets that were similar in size and location. A number of different surveys were used. One survey was for market patrons, one for market vendors, and one for documenting sales progress throughout the year at different markets. This study did not find that there was any significant benefit for the vendors by being equipped to handle EBT and debit transactions. The authors say that the use of debit cards at farmers’ markets may become more widespread in the future, as there is a high rate of usage among younger people. However, they did find that customers had positive reactions to cooking demonstrations and the invitation to sample products before purchase, information which could be helpful for the further development of farmers’ markets.


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