Functions of the Community Farmers’ Market: A Sociological Analysis

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Nicholas J. Smith (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Cameron Lippard

Abstract: The popularity of the local farmers’ market is on the rise. Historically, food, especially food specific markets, has rarely been the focus of sociological inquiry. This research aims to fill this gap and explore the functions that farmers’ markets play in communities, specifically in one market located in rural western North Carolina. Review of the literature identified five manifest, or intended market functions, and four latent, or unintended functions. Using these nine functions as a framework, responses from 60 survey-interviews and 40 online surveys from both customers and vendors were coded into predefined function categories. The results suggest that vendor participation in the markets is intertwined with personal financial reasons while customer participation is motivated by broader community goals. Collectively, all participants recognized the market as a fun, social experience as well as a community builder. This community, however, is not a proper representation of the larger surrounding community, indicating that the farmers’ market may inadvertently be a site of class and racial exclusion.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Smith, N.J. (2015) Functions of the Community Farmers’ Market: A Sociological Analysis. Unpublished honors thesis. Unpublished honors thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2015

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