As demand for local food continues to grow, so too have the opportunities for America’s farmers to market fresh food directly to the consumer. According to statistics recently released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), farmers markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on farm-direct products. This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches.
As of 2019 there are over 70 Farmers Markets in Montana according to the Montana Department of Agriculture, selling a wide variety of products, including fruits, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies, handmade soaps, beef, poultry, eggs and honey. Montana Farmers Markets can be accessed any day of the week depending on the area and the best way to celebrate National Farmers Market Week is to visit a market. To find a Farmers Market, visit AERO’s Abundant Montana Directory.
There are 22 Farmers Markets in Montana that accept SNAP and several participate in the Double SNAP Dollars Program. Markets participating in the Double SNAP Dollars program will match a customer’s SNAP benefit.
“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming a healthy, prosperous food systems,” says Jen Cheek, program director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Vendors are teaching customers about agriculture and sharing recipes and new foods with their neighbors. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier.”
National Center for Appropriate Technology is a national not for profit based in Butte. They are working to help build farmers market capacity in Montana and increase low income local food access through helping farmers markets become authorized to accept SNAP. For more information on NCAT see ncat.org.