Small farmers and farmers markets in Tarrant County have seen a surge in demand from people looking for alternative egg options. Farmers markets do more than just sell vegetables, eggs, and meat from grass-fed animals. They provide a central shopping and meeting place for communities, drive customers to nearby businesses, and most importantly, they support local and small farms. According to a survey of members of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) under 40, farmers' markets accounted for 18% of their agricultural sales, with the highest proportion (19%) coming from direct sales to customers who paid in advance for products. Regardless of the organizational structure, the approximately 150 Texas farmers markets and the number of shoppers they attract are starting to make an impact on local communities.
Data from Tarrant County shows that 11 zip codes lack access to affordable fresh and nutritious food. Laura McDonald, executive director of the Texas Farmers Market, reports that their markets in Cedar Park and Austin have an average of 3,000 and 4,000 shoppers per market day respectively. The Farmers Market Coalition also found that more than 85% of market vendors travel less than 50 miles to reach their farmers market and more than half travel less than 10 miles. The commercial structures of farmers markets range from private for-profit companies and private social enterprises to markets managed by municipal or county governments. The Sprouting Change program's attendance at the Cowtown Farmers Market was a success, as they were able to share their message about sustainability and healthy eating with a large audience.
Hollow Trace Market Farm owner Knutsun believes that if communities always bought local produce, farmers and ranchers would always have enough for demand. The survey also noted that farmers' markets offer an important avenue to support agricultural occupations, especially for younger farmers who may already face obstacles related to land accessibility, student loan debt, health insurance, and the search for qualified labor. McDonald adds that one of the advantages of farmers' markets is the ability to be agile in times of crisis. In addition to attending the Cowtown Farmers Market, the group also organizes educational sessions and community classes. Surprisingly, the pandemic did not harm businesses in the Urban Harvest market or the Texas Farmers Market. Overall, it is clear that consumer demand has had a positive effect on the farmer's market movement in Tarrant County. The number of shoppers attending these markets is increasing every day, providing support for local and small farms while also giving people access to fresh produce and meat.
As long as demand continues to grow, farmers' markets will remain an important part of Texas communities.