Investing in the social fabric of rural and urban communities: A comparative study of two Alabama farmers' markets
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure
This paper investigates the role that farmers’ markets play in enhancing the social fabric of once thriving rural communities. The paper reports the findings from a comparative study of visitor motivations to two community farmers’ markets in south west Alabama, one located in a rural environment and newly established, while the second, more established market (since 2004) is located in a much more populated and more affluent community. A total of 356 visitors participated in the study by completing a questionnaire. Part of the findings demonstrate that overall, visitors from both markets are more motivated to attend for the opportunity to engage in social discourse and out of a sense of support for local agriculture and farmers, than purely monetary driven exchange economics. This form of involvement, however, was more obvious among participants to the market located in the rural environment. These findings, at least with respect to the more rural respondent group, further support the contention that benefits from hosting farmers’ markets are not limited to the food aspect (fresh, local foods), but communities can also significantly benefit in social terms.