Farmers markets build sense of community

bbashioum@demo-mo.comAugust 1, 2014 

People strolled around the Harrisonville Square gazing at the many varieties of crisp vegetables, juicy fruits and fresh-cut flowers that lined the streets on July 26.

The bright colors of the home-grown and hand-picked tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, peppers and green beans, among other products, were plentiful.

But Harrisonville resident John Foster said that people don’t come just to buy food.

Farmers markets are also a place where families can come together to build a sense of community, which is an asset, he said. Markets also help stimulate economic growth among local farmers.

“I come up here every Saturday morning and visit with some of the old timers,” Foster said. “I think it’s a great thing. Not only is it an economic asset, but the fellowship it promotes.”

The Harrisonville market is open 7-11:30 a.m. every Saturday morning throughout its season.

In only its second year, more than 20 vendors gather weekly to sell produce and other fresh food items.

Vendors must be farmers in Missouri, or within 35 miles of Harrisonville.

“The idea was to promote some rural fellowship,” Foster said.

Countywide farmers markets will begin celebrating National Farmers Market Week this weekend as U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared August 3-9.

The national distinction, now in its 15th year, was made via an official proclamation signed by Vilsack to recognize the important role that farmers markets play in the agricultural and food economy.

Throughout the week, the USDA will celebrate the thousands of farmers markets, farmers who make them possible, and the communities that host them.

“National Farmers Market Week is a great opportunity for farmers markets across the country to host special events to showcase all the tremendous services they provide," Vilsack said. "Farmers markets play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support family farms, and help grow rural economies. They bring communities together, connecting cities with the farms that support them and provide Americans across the country with fresh, healthy food.”

Peculiar farmer Arcenio Velez of Wolf Creek Family Farms frequents markets in Waldo, Lee’s Summit and Raymore, but he said he most enjoys selling produce he grows in Cass County on the Square.

“(Farmers markets) are a way for people to get out and see each other,” Velez said.

Wolf Creek is a small family farm focused on organically, sustainably grown vegetables and fruits, along with naturally-grown meats, free-range eggs, heirloom produce, herbs and plants.

Velez said it’s been a good year for farming.

“The weather has been nice, crops have been growing well this year,” he said.

Velez said Harrisonville’s Saturday morning event allows patrons to leisurely stroll through what vendors have to offer.

“A lot more of the Harrisonville community has come out and participated,” he said. “It’s a chance to get out of the house and walk around.”

Cass County farmers markets include:

Belton Farmers Market, Memorial Park, 4-9 p.m. Thursdays.

Cass County Farmers Market, Mill Walk Mall parking lot in Harrisonville, 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays.

Garden City Community Farmer’s Market, Poisal Property, across from Casey’s, 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Fridays; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays.

Harrisonville Farmers Market, Downtown Square, 7-11:30 a.m. Saturdays.

Peculiar FarMart Farmers’ & Artists’ Market, W. Center Street and C Highway, 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays.

Pleasant Hill Farmers Market, First and Wyoming streets, Open 8 a.m.-sellout Saturdays.

Raymore Original Town Farmers Market, 200 block S. Washington, 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays.

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