Farmers markets contribute to social, economic community growth

Students buy cookies at the farmers market in Bosco Plaza on Sept. 28, 2016. (Meg Shearer | The Collegian)

Farmers markets are a growing trend across the country, with more and more people becoming food and health-conscious. Manhattan offers a farmers market year-round that helps the community grow economically and socially. If given the chance, everyone should purchase goods at a local farmers market to help boost the economy and promote a community that supports each other.

Some have argued the actual economic opportunity for farmers markets isn’t substantial, but there is research to say it is.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture did a study to find the economic impact of a Kansas market in Emporia, Kansas. In 2013, Emporia’s farmers market added $91,761.10 to the Kansas economy, according to their website. That’s one market in Kansas alone.

Beyond economic development, farmers markets give the community a wealth of social interaction and a tight-knit community feeling.

The Manhattan farmers market started in 1979 in a little space beside the Riley County Courthouse. The market has several locations throughout the week and is open every week from April to October. The winter market runs from November to April.

The farmers market originally started with 10 vendors and now hovers around 55 different vendors. Elaine Mohr, owner of Southside Gardens, said she remembers the first market ever held in Manhattan and that the space for vendors was really limited.

Becky Sorensen, graduate student in marriage and family therapy, is a newcomer to the Manhattan market. While on the hunt for peaches, rhubarb and cucumbers, she explained why she enjoys farmers markets.

“I like being able to come get fresh produce,” Sorensen said. “And more than that, I like to meet the person who grew my food.”

With health trends rising and people wanting to know exactly where their food came from, many can agree with Sorensen. People want to know what’s in their food, where it’s made and how it’s made.

Organic produce has stepped its way onto the food scene. It’s trying to steal the spotlight and is possibly succeeding. Consumers want to know if their food has been chemically treated or not, which is a huge benefit that farmers markets can offer. For example, customers can simply talk with vendors and find out how their tomatoes were grown.

Mohr grows all of her produce organically and sells it at the farmers market. She can see the benefits that raising organic crops reaps throughout the community.

“I raise crops that are good for the soil and good for you,” Mohr said. “My favorite part about doing this is knowing that a family is sitting down at the table on Saturday night with good vegetables that I provided. And knowing that they are being fed wholesome foods is a good feeling to me.”

For information on the times and dates of the Manhattan farmers market, visit their website at There’s also an opportunity to check out the K-State farmers market on Wednesday, Oct. 26, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bosco Student Plaza.