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Letter: For New Hampshire farmers markets, a better formula

Re “Mix of farmers markets a blessing, curse” (Monitor front page, July 29):

As owner of Hermit Woods Winery, we are vendors at several farmers markets. I also believe it is important to purchase food from local farmers and producers. As a vendor and consumer, I find the New Hampshire farmers market system very frustrating.

Competing markets have too few vendors to ensure a wide variety of goods. Due to the increased time and gas of attending multiple markets, it is hard not to choose a single visit to the supermarket. I am committed to markets, but until this issue is addressed, it will be hard to convince the general public to choose markets over supermarkets.

Because most market organizers discourage multiple vendors of the same type of products, markets will continue to be small and variety limited. Unless markets can increase traffic, there will not be enough business for everyone. This is the Catch-22 that is stifling farmers markets.

Imagine if within a 30-mile radius there were only one market held twice a week; this market would have potentially hundreds of vendors and would be the single place that consumers could count on for all their needs. This market would present a real choice over supermarkets and help develop new champions of buying local. Organizers and vendors would have to spend less money on marketing, time, gas and staff on multiple markets. Having traveled in Europe where this is the model, I have no doubt it could work.

BOB MANLEY

Sanbornton

Smaller, poorly managed markets are strife with farmers wholesaling produce, who can pick from any field they want and call it their own, and/or otherwise have something to hide. Stay away from the smaller markets with no apparent director. *** If you see a large producer avoiding the big markets - know there is a reason they avoid the big ones - because they are not allowed - they either buy in their products, lie about where the food comes from and claim incorrect organic status, no nitrates when there are indeed nitrates, "all natural" when they feed chem treated grain, etc. People don't understand farmers are people - business people and they come in all colors. Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food. *** Hermit Winery - you are right. If there were large regional markets with full customer attendance, there could be many vendors in the same category. A small market with one vendor for each category doesn't help anybody, it actually hurts by wasting farmers valuable time and letting customers down. It doesn't make sense.

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