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Here's why we should celebrate farmers markets

What comes to mind when you think of farmers markets?

Maybe ripe seasonal produce, colorful flowers, freshly baked bread, and music? That is what you can expect to enjoy if you visit one of Henderson County’s five farmers markets. While local farmers markets can have a direct positive impact on your day, they also make a significant impact on our broader community and local food system. In fact, farmers markets’ role in building healthy communities and prosperity for farmers and small businesses has made the USDA proclaim the first week of August National Farmers Market Week!

Why should we celebrate farmers markets?

  • Farmers markets support Henderson County’s small and diversified farms and circulate money back into our local economy. Each year tens of thousands of farmers sell directly to consumers at farmers markets nationwide, generating $2.4 billion in revenue, according to a recent estimate by local food researchers at Purdue University. Henderson County currently reports 98 farms that sell direct to consumers, accounting for approximately $3.3 million in local sales. Farmers markets are not only helpful for kickstarting small businesses and farms, but they also provide producers with a place to sell within 100 miles of their farm. Otherwise, small farms are faced with the daunting competition of large commercial distributors, where products travel an average of 1,500 miles to get to the final point of sale. In light of recent fuel prices, food miles are more important than ever to the security of our food system, and farmers markets are at the heart of a healthy food system. Small farms might only get one quarter of every dollar when they sell to a large commercial distributor, while they get 100 percent of the revenue from a local market sale.
  • Farmers markets represent the future of local food. With low-barrier entry points for new farmers and food entrepreneurs, producers who sell locally are more likely to be younger compared to overall US farmers. With the average age of a Henderson County farmer being 58, local farmers markets play a critical role in providing a way for younger producers to get into the business of agriculture. Some local farmers markets go even a step further to foster and incubate young entrepreneurs by offering free or discounted vendor space and training to beginning farmers. These young entrepreneur programs require the participants to grow or create their own product to sell with minimal help from adults.
  • By improving the availability and accessibility of fresh and nutritious food, farmers markets are key for improving community health and ensuring food security. According to the 2021 Community Health Assessment, fewer than one in 10 Henderson County residents consume enough fruits and vegetables to protect them from costly and deadly health conditions. Almost one in five Henderson County residents do not have enough money to buy foods to support a healthy and active life or are food insecure. The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides money to purchase foods and reduce food insecurity, and the USDA encourages programs that incentivize healthy SNAP purchases. Both Hendersonville Farmers Market and Mills River Farm Market are SNAP retailers offering programs that match SNAP transactions dollar-for-dollar. In 2021, more than $56,000 in SNAP dollars were disseminated for spending at Henderson County markets, which went directly into the pockets of our local food producers and translates into $56,000 worth of local food in the pantries of low-income residents. New this year to Henderson County, both Hendersonville and Mills River markets are also accepting prescriptions from health care providers for fruits and vegetables through the Healthy Opportunities Pilot and the Farm Fresh for Health Programs. These programs support health care providers who want to help their patients prevent and manage chronic diseases through good nutrition. Nutrition incentive programs such as these have proven to be a viable method to increase produce consumption at the local level, which can mitigate risk of diet-related disease.

Farmers markets don’t just happen.
Behind the fresh food and community connections at your local farmers market is a team of dedicated staff and volunteers making sure the tents go up each week. The organizations that run farmers markets and the local food systems that support them need your investment. The value that farmers markets provide to our communities emphasizes the need for more support of organizations that run farmers markets and investment in local food systems to ensure that we continue serving communities and the small businesses who make the backbone of local American economies.
You can support our local food system by shopping regularly at Henderson County farmers markets. You can also donate your time by volunteering to help make the markets happen, from helping with setup to assisting with cooking demonstrations to running the information booth. Plus, it’s a wonderful time of year to stock up on fresh produce!
Here are the markets in our area.

  • Mills River Farm Market: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays May through October, Mills River Elementary School on 94 Schoolhouse Road (
  • Hendersonville Farmers Market: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays May through October, Historic Train Depot on 650 Maple Street (
  • Henderson County Tailgate Market: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays through Oct. 29, 100 North King St. (
  • Flat Rock Tailgate Market: 3-6 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 27, Pinecrest ARP Church, 1790 Greenville Hwy (
  • Etowah Lions Club Farmers Market: 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 26, Etowah Lions Clubhouse, 447 Etowah School Road (Etowah Lions Farmers Market)

All of the Henderson County farmers markets are open rain or shine. For more information about Henderson County Farmers Markets as well as short video tours of each market, visit

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The Henderson County Farmers Market Coalition is made up of farmers market managers in Henderson County, N.C. Cooperative Extension Committee for Activity and Nutrition and Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.