The Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market (LDFM) was officially incorporated in 2014 and grew out of the years of experience and effort of the Lubbock Downtown Art Market (DAM). The DAM has been connecting local producers and consumers of art for years. In addition, fresh produce and some local foods had always been available. In 2014 the DAM was moved to be a part of the First Friday Art Trail at the Tornado Gallery, and the Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market (LDFM) was officially born.
Expanding on this long journey of connecting local producers (of art, crafts, and food) with local consumers, 2014 was special as the inaugural year for the LDFM, a Texas nonprofit corporation.
Why Expand the Farmers Market?
Support the Local Economy: A vital part of a strong local economy is buying products (i.e. food and crafts) actually made locally. By purchasing local produce, cheeses, and meats you support local producer who in turn invests back into the local economy. For example, you can choose to purchase an apple at the supermarket which comes from Washington or one produced locally from Apple Country Orchards or Gallagher Orchards. In one case your dollar supports apple growers in Washington state. In the other case your dollar supports apple growers right here at home. So keep your dollars local by supporting local growers.
Get Your Questions Answered: Additionally, purchasing from local growers allows you to be informed about the actual growing practices used by the farmers who produce your food. Are the vegetables raised without the use of toxic pesticides or raised using “conventional” fertilizers and pesticides? Are the fruits and vegetables a GMO (genetically modified organism) or a Non-GMO variety? Are the chickens and beef raised “free range” or are they grain fed in feed lots? At the Farmers Market you actually have the opportunity to ask the producer these questions (and anything else that comes to mind). At the supermarket it is just you vs. the label, and they don’t tend to publish the answers to all your questions on the package.
Encourage Local Food Production: Decades ago, most farmers in the area would set aside a few acres each year for a “garden.” The rest of the land was farmed for commercial production of their cash crop (cotton or wheat). They would plant food for their family on the garden acres and then sell what they had overproduced. Through the years, this practice has become less and less common. The Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market hopes to encourage those local farmers who are still planting garden acres to continue to do so, by offering then a regular outlet for their overproduction. At the same time, we hope that by having a vibrant market, new producers will return to the practice of planting some garden acres of fresh produce for their families and to share any overabundance with the community.
Access to “Fresh” Produce: The supermarket is a wonderful place and has allowed us to access all sorts of fruits of vegetables year-round that were once only seasonally available. For example, have you ever tried to grow a tomato in Lubbock? They don’t grow well here in December or January, but you can get them at the supermarket during these winter months. How? They ship them from South America, Mexico, Central America and other locations across the globe. Unfortunately, this shipping process can take many days. Hence the farmer in Brazil must harvest the fruit before it is ripe, then ship it, timing the arrival at your local supermarket when the fruit is finally appearing “red and ripe.” Thus the produce that appears “Fresh” at the supermarket may be days and days old. How many days? You don’t know.
Did you ever wonder why the bananas are often all so green? It was a mistake in the timing from picking the fruit until its arrival in the supermarket. If the bananas were actually “greener” (i.e. less ripe) on the day they were picked, exactly how green were they???
Produce that is grown locally and sold at the Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market will be actually be “fresh” rather than just appearing “fresh.” It will be harvested locally and transported for sale locally. It will not spend a week on a freighter from Brazil to If you want to know how old that tomato is, just ask. All produce is required to be labelled with the City & State of origin. Thus you can choose to pick your produce based on the location on the label.
Building a Strong Sense of Community: We have gotten to the point in the US that 80% of all retail goods purchased in the US are made in China. Amazing. So, the purchase of most goods builds a US/China sense of community rather than building a strong local community. Luckily, food is one product that can still be grown, transported and sold locally without being overly expensive. And at the same time, getting to know a local producer of your food is also getting to know your neighbor and building a strong sense of community. The more we can work together, the more we can interact with each other, and the more we can get to know each other, the stronger will be our sense of community.
We look forward to seeing you at the Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market every Saturday June through October. Be there at 9:00 am – produce is available until vendor sell-out!
The Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market Team