DataLensDC Volume II: DC #1 in Farmer’s Markets Per Capita

Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

DataLensDC was started in the summer of 2015 by Kate Rabinowitz, lover of all things data and District. She lives in a cozy Capitol Hill carriage house where she enjoys data mining, board games and wandering the city. Kate created to DataLensDC to present data-driven views of the character, trends and hacks of the ever-changing District.

My husband’s first words to me were basically “Where can I find a good local farmer’s market?” to which I responded MARRY ME. That’s how much I like farmer’s markets. I’ve been fortunate that wherever I’ve lived in the District a good farmer’s market has never been more than a short Saturday morning jaunt in warmer months. I was curious if I simply gravitated to places near markets or this was more of a universal DC experience, and how DC compared to other American cities.

Source: USDA Farmer’s Market Directory.

It turns out DC is a farmer’s market paradise. The District has the highest farmer’s markets per capita of large American cities. For every 100,000 people there are just over five. Put another way, there’s a market in DC for every 18,832 people.

Not only is DC on top, but by a considerable margin. The next highest is Portland, Oregon, unsurprising given it’s locavore culture, but it has just under four farmer’s markets per 100,000 people.

What brings DC to the top? It’s a walkable city with an emphasis on smaller, neighborhood markets as opposed to largescale city center ones. The District’s close to farmland with long growing seasons. Federal agencies host their own markets and the well-organized reach of non-profits like FreshFarm Markets help to increase local food accessibility. Of course, having so many farmer’s market per capita does not mean they are accessible to everyone. There is a heavy concentration of farmer’s market west of the Anacostia and southeast of Rock Creek Park but outside of those areas markets are rarer and there are in fact none in ward seven.

Where can all these farmer’s markets be found? Check out the map below to see DC’s farmer’s markets and click on the icon to find dates and times (where available).

13 Comment

  • SouthwestDC

    Is that map supposed to be comprehensive? Just looking at my neighborhood I see a couple omissions.

  • I know this sounds good on paper but as a data guy I can’t help but think the numbers are a bit misleading. Would like to know more about the methodology behind this… did it account for how many days per week (and per year) the market is open? Most DC farmers markets run roughly March through October, and only one day per week (often Saturday or Sunday), whereas many of the farmers markets in other cities are open on multiple days and throughout the entirety of the year (obviously having a warmer climate helps).

    Also, are all markets created equal? Do you treat a market with 10 vendors the same as one with 100? I assume that data is probably hard to find, but is still relevant.

  • I love DataLensDC and I’m so glad she’s being featured on Popville! Go Kate!!!

  • I have always wondered if the fact that we all insist on having our own neighborhood farmers market (as opposed to a fewer (but larger) ones like the one in dupont is part of the reason they’re so expensive. It can’t be cheap for the farmers to have to haul their stuff in, pay for a booth, pay someone to man the booth, etc., and I imagine they pass those costs along to us. Anyone have any actual insight into this?

    • You’re spot on.

      I’ve been managing a produce stand in Dupont for the past two years, but have known the family for some time. Most of the rising costs on our end can be attributed to the declining number of patrons at Dupont, which I directly attribute to the rising number of farmer’s markets in the neighborhoods. We’ve had low turnout since 2008 and have to sell more @ wholesale at the end of the day then in our last fifteen years.

      Across the country ~5% of people get their produce from a farmer’s market, instead buying from “locally driven” stores like Whole Foods. If that trend continues as it has for the past 20 years, the cost at markets will continue to be high.

  • Great- we have the most per capita of mediocre, extremely overpriced farmers markets- woopdeedoo. Someone find me some damn fiddleheads or the elusive ramp in the springtime when everyone in other countries are intagraming them to death and I’ll change my tune. I have actively searched for them the last two seasons to no avail. I’d take less farmers markets with more variety and/or cheaper produce any day.

    Another gripe about our farmer’s markets- they shouldn’t consist mainly of nonproduce vendors. That being said, they are all we have so of course I’ll continue to patron them. Stupid markets.

  • Good source for farmers markets – in the whole metropolitan area, not just DC is the Washington Post.
    Just google “farmers markets washington dc 2015” and click on the washington post link that comes up as one of the first links, and you get a map. You can filter by state, and also by day of the week, to see where you can go to farmer’s market today.
    It is a fairly comprehensive map, and I have enjoyed checking out different markets on different days. Yes, many are small, but there are different vendors at different markets, which makes even some of the very small ones worth a visit.
    Sure, much is not produce, but I am not averse to also buying lunch, eggs, milk, cheese, meat, seafood, bread, pickled veggies, soups, dips, sweets and flowers.
    You can find some organic produce almost everywhere, and also local producers who do have not the organic label but are basically organic or quite close in their practices.

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