Spring has sprung and that means it’s time to hit the local farmer markets. Indianapolis is the 13th largest city in the nation and it’s easy to forget the importance farming has upon the lives of Indiana residents. Like all Midwest states, Indiana has a long, well established, farming heritage. Settlers were attracted to Indiana because the soil and climate make the perfect conditions for agriculture.
Indiana has been nationally ranked as:
- 2nd largest producer of popcorn
- 2nd in production of tomatoes
- 2nd in number of layer chickens
- 2nd in production of both regular and fat free ice cream
- 3rd in total number of eggs
- 4th in production of peppermint
- 4th in production of soybeans
- 5th in production of corn
- 5th in production of spearmint
Indiana also produces more duck than any state in the nation.
Agriculture plays an important role in the stability of Indiana’s economy. 14.7 million acres of Indiana land is used for agriculture. The average Indiana farm size is 242 acres while nationally the average farm size is 434 acres. The United States is facing an agricultural dilemma. According to the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, the number of farms has dropped significantly throughout the United States. The culprit behind this trend has to do with the economy. The next generation of farmers is having a hard time keeping their family farms due to high cost of operations and not enough profits in sales. Many are selling their family farms and finding new lives in the cities. The small and medium sized farms are the most at risk as they struggle the most.
Indianapolis tries to help the small and medium sized farms by offering other outlets in which these farmers can sell their products. Some of these outlets are the local farmers markets. Farmers markets benefit both the farmer and the community. Farmers can sell their produce with less transportation, handling, refrigeration and storage which decreases their costs to bringing their supply to market. By selling directly to the market, farmers are able to keep all of their profits. Community benefits include maintaining important ties with local farmers, driving traffics to nearby businesses, providing outlets to locally produced products and 90% of the money earned at the market generally remains within the community.
Indianapolis has several farmers markets each with their own unique community style. Here are just a few: