Thursday, August 11, 2022

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ND Farmers Markets Tout Importance in Rebound Year

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Thursday, August 4, 2022   

Next week is National Farmers Market Week. In North Dakota, there is a sense of relief after tough conditions last year, along with a mostly optimistic outlook.

Mary Podoll, president of the North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association, said last year's drought made vegetable growing very difficult. But she acknowledged this summer, she is not hearing many complaints from vendors. On a broader scale, she pointed out smaller producers are not only getting more support from farmers markets, but local schools, grocery stores and government as well.

She added collaboration is opening up more opportunities.

"For example, Bismarck schools recently have worked with the local co-op, and they're setting up a place where vegetables can be taken to the co-op for processing," Podoll explained. "Which is fantastic because sometimes the school's willing to take the vegetables, but they weren't able to process it"

And while her group's current membership is down a bit, Podoll said overall growth has been steady in recent years. The state agriculture department is hosting events next week in recognition of Farmers Market Week, including vendors selling products next Wednesday in the west parking lot of the state Capitol building.

Podoll emphasized having more options coming from the community level helps stabilize the nation's food system. She noted one of the key challenges they need to overcome is delivery of locally-grown food.

"There has to be some cost benefit to a producer to drive a long ways to deliver food," Podoll stressed.

She suggested more hubs, such as the new one in Bismarck, could help close transportation gaps. In encouraging more vendors, Podoll stressed you do not have to grow a lot of crops. Those interested can focus on a single product and still try to bring it to market.


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