Richland County Farmers Market opened on Saturday, July 13, at the courthouse parking lot in Sidney. Vendors selling homemade crafts, jams, jellies, baked goods, and fresh, raw farm produce begin setting up their tables each Saturday at 7 a.m.

Farmers markets have deep roots in the history of our county, dating as far back as 1730, when the first market started in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson bought beef, eggs and vegetables at a market in Georgetown. In the early 1900’s, most cities with more than 30,000 people hosted municipal markets. Later, better roads and the invention of mechanical refrigeration brought supermarkets and wholesalers, pushing small farms and markers out of the food cycle.

The renaissance of the classic farmers market began more than 20 years ago, over concern about the preservation of local farmland and the livelihood of small farmers. Over the years, both the number and popularity of farmers markets has increased. There are over 8,000 farmers markets across the United States and this has garnered support from the USDA.

Farmers markets benefit both the consumer as well as the producer. Markets offer freshly picked, in season produce at its peak in flavor and nutrition, and help consumers to easily meet My Plate guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption. Markets also offer an easy way to try new products and get kids involved in preparation. A USDA study showed households that shop at direct to consumer outlets like farmers markets have a heightened interest in and knowledge of nutrition. Shopping at a farmers market supports both the farmer and the local economy, keeping business local, lowering the number of miles traveled for sales, and taking care of excess produce which may otherwise go to waste. Farmers markets also serve as a venue for meeting local producers and socializing with friends and neighbors.

The Richland County Farmers Market is coordinated by the MSU Richland County Extension Office.

Those vendors selling homemade crafts, baked goods, and fresh, raw produce are welcome to set up a table at the Richland County Courthouse each Saturday. Community members selling farmers market food products should register with the Richland County Sanitarian by calling 406-433-2207. Additional information on farmers markets foods can be found at https://dphhs.mt.gov/Portals/85/publichealth/documents/FCS/2019FARMERSMARKETguidelines.pdf.

For updates on the Richland County Farmers Market, follow their Facebook page at facebook.com/Richland-County-Farmers-Market-450125392439286/. For information about farmers markets, follow the Richland County Nutrition Coalition’s Facebook page at facebook.com/1rcnc1 and www.pinterest.com/1rcnc1 on Pinterest.

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