Why Do Farmers’ Markets Cheer Us Up So Much?

Farmers’ Markets have a special place in city life. They encourage us to feel part of a community, yet when we go to these markets we also feel that as individuals we are attending to our health and leisure needs. Farmers’ Markets may indeed sometimes in reality be big business, but they fill a gap in our fragmented urban lives.
Farmers’ Markets seem to be all the rage in Liverpool at the moment. They started in the ciy centre (by the Victoria Monument), and recently sprouted up in Lark Lane to the South of the city. Now, this Sunday, there is at last to be one in Hope Street, the cultural quarter. All the recent evidence suggests that, weather permitting, this too will be a big success.
So why is everyone in the city so enthusiastic about Farmers’ Markets? Several possible answers to this question come to mind:
Farmers’ Markets make us feel healthy. Whether the produce is actually fresher and more nutritious (or beneficial in other ways, if not edible) than produce we can buy in supermarkets, we willingly go along with the idea that it must be.
Farmers’ Markets make us feel part of a community; we throng around, perhaps sharing comments with perfect strangers about what’s on offer, and aware of the shared purpose in our being there. Yet we also feel like individuals – not for us the pre-packaged routinised stuff of the big stores. We are making a positive, personal choice to buy, or perhaps just to consider buying, produce which feels, against supermarket standards, just a bit exotic.
Farmers’ Markets take us back in time. We imagine, more or less accurately, that this until quite recently is how people have always conducted their financial transactions. There’s a rusticness about what we’re doing which harks back to a supposed golden age which is in contemporary times usually only seen on Christmas cards.
Farmers’ Markets are ecological. If we can, we walk to them (or at least park the car a distance away), clutching cane baskets and imagining, correctly or otherwise, that what we intend to buy is organic.
Farmers’ Markets let us feel authentic. We can actually talk, and maybe even negotiate our purchase, with the people who are seling their own goods – which we naturally suppose they have also themselves carefully crafted. The goods are authentic. The person-to-person transaction is authentic. We must be authentic.
And Farmers’ Markets are interesting. We are often not sure what we’ll find when we get there. Who will turn up this time? What will they have to sell? We attend trustingly, purses speculatively at the ready in our pockets; not for us on this occasion the usual boring shopping list!
It might be surmised from this list that I have a problem with Farmers’ Markets. Not so at all. They have a real part to play in the lives of many city people, just as they always have had in more rural contexts.
It’s the function these markets perform in our splintered urban communities which fascinates me. They may in fact sometimes be the visible parts of very large business operations, but they are perceived as ‘small’, micro-enterprises undertaken by real people. They make us feel special, they spark our imaginations and they activiate our interest in important aspects of health and community.
Don’t miss the next Liverpool Farmers’ Markets. Be sure to be in Lark Lane on Saturday, or in Hope Street on Sunday!

Posted on October 21, 2005, in Arts, Culture And Heritage, Education, Health And Welfare, Equality, Diversity And Inclusion, Events And Notable Dates, HOPES: The Hope Street Association, Liverpool And Merseyside, Sustainability As If People Mattered. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Just a wee update on Liverpool’s Farmers’ Markets.
    There are now 5 regular markets in Liverpool every month.
    But all is not quite as simple as that!
    The twice monthly London Road farmer’s market has not really been doing too well for a long time (possibly since before its move from Chavasse Park, due to “The Big Dig”).
    For various reasons, trade has been poor & after months of trying to make it work, many traders have sadly stopped attending (myself included). If you’d like to support the market, it’s on the 1st & 3rd Saturdays of the month, from 9am-2pm.
    On a happier note, Lark Lane’s market (4th Sats of month 9am-2pm) is a bustling beauty of a market – as is New Ferry on the Wirral – 2nd Sats of month.
    Last Sunday, as part of the Hope Street Festival there was an expanded farmers’ market (mentioned in this fine publication!). Happily the market is to be a monthly feature (3rd Sundays, 9am-2pm) I hope the excellent location will help it to become a permanent & successful market.
    (As far as I know, at time of writing, this info is up to date, but for peace of mind, please contact the market organisers to confirm the situation – other markets are planned or operating on Merseyside, but sadly a quick internet search didn’t come up with any fully up to date sites!)

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