A produce vendor at the Helena, Montana Farmers Market

‘Bounty of the Big Sky’ returns for Annual Celebration in Montana with Study Showing Farmers Markets Generate $10 Million

Montana joins markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week August 7-13, 2022. The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the Montana Farmers Market Network encourage everyone to celebrate the “Bounty of the Big Sky” by shopping at local farmers markets this week and every week. Governor Greg Gianforte’s office also supports the celebration by officially proclaiming August 7-13, 2022 as Farmers Market Week in Montana.

“Farmers Market Week is a great time to bring attention to the bounty of locally grown products that can be purchased at farmers markets,” says Tammy Howard, Montana Farmers Market Network coordinator at NCAT. “You can find a variety of products, including fruits, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies, handmade soaps, beef, poultry, eggs, honey, and artisan crafts at farmers markets throughout the year in many communities.”

NCAT has also released a new study completed by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research that illustrates the economic importance of Farmers Markets.

“The results of the study were really eye opening,” says Maura Henn, Community Food Systems Specialist at NCAT. “We knew farmers markets played a vital role in the Montana food system, and now we have the numbers to support what we have been seeing and hearing on the ground from farmers market managers and vendors who work so hard to make farmers markets happen in their communities every week, year after year.”

Findings from the report show:

  • 2021 Montana farmers markets generated $10.4 million in new spending and received $17.3 million in revenue showing that farmers markets are a vital component of the state’s economy.
  • Montana farmers markets provide more than 250 full-time jobs and almost 5,000 individuals work to produce the goods and services offered each week.
  • On average, a typical Montana market had 22 individual stands and required almost 70 people to put on the market which includes vendors, volunteers, and market employees.

The report can be read in full on the new Montana Farmers Market Network website, FARMERSMARKETMT.COM. This site is a new online tool for market organizers, managers, volunteers, board members, vendors, and community partners to find useful resources to keep their markets successful and thriving. Citizens can also learn more about starting a farmers market in their communities.

There are more than 70 farmers markets in Montana according to the Montana Department of Agriculture. Of those, 27 accept SNAP benefits making fresh, locally produced products accessible to more Montanans and 24 farmers markets also participate in the Double SNAP Dollars Program which matches a customer’s SNAP benefit. The Double SNAP Dollars program has served nearly 6,400 Montanans and has recirculated more than $500,00 to local farmers, ranchers, and farmers markets.

National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration of farmers markets coordinated by the Farmers Market Coalition; a membership-based nonprofit organization that supports farmers markets nationwide.

“Farmers markets are abundant sources of food, connection and resilience in our communities across the country, but they don’t just happen on their own,” said Ben Feldman, Farmers Market Coalition Executive Director. “Behind the scenes of every successful farmers market is a dedicated person or team working to make the market thrive. These farmers market operators are experts who need community and financial support to run their markets and resources specifically designed for their needs. Throughout National Farmers Market Week 2022, we will be highlighting the vital work of farmers market operators across the nation. Join us!”

To find a farmers market near you visit AERO’s Abundant Montana Directory.