Unique public gathering places tend to be the soul of a community. While civic spaces are necessary for people to meet and conduct business, it’s the popular, unexpected spaces that provide opportunities to enjoy local food, music, entertainment, art and spirituality that unite people culturally and conversationally. It is human nature for people to want to gather.

Across America, one popular gathering space that continues to gain momentum is the local farmer’s market. For centuries, farmers markets have been a critical component to our nation’s economy and food systems but in recent years have experienced a revitalization. There was a period of time when consumers seemed to be more focused on convenience than quality, but that tide is turning.

Consumers are now better equipped with information regarding food. The bridge that connects rural to urban and farmer to consumer has been built. No longer are people satisfied with settling for poor quality food that is manufactured by big corporations. The fire for real food has been lit and is being fanned by reels on popular social media platforms.

While trying to understand the psychology and social response to local farmers markets it is interesting to survey potential shoppers who may not be terribly familiar with them. Just exactly what do they think is going to be at a Farmers Market? Well, recent studies show that consumers generally have the following perceptions and expectations:

Fresh, high-quality and locally produced food


-The farmers or producers themselves

-Seasonal foods

-Tastier or healthier foods

-Art and artists

Foods and goods that are higher in price

After personally traveling to many local markets, I can confidently say that their perceptions and expectations are fairly accurate. Isn’t it interesting that without knowing much about farmers markets these folks have an overall good idea of what is there?

Local markets not only connect producers to buyers with healthy food they also stimulate rural economic development and provide places for friends and neighbors to gather and talk. They’re a treasure trove for the senses with bright colors, new smells and sounds and all the possibilities for new tastes. Families get fresh food, farmers have an outlet for what they’ve grown, artisans sell their wares, kids and music play, news is shared, people are encouraged, community is established. It’s a win-win for everyone!

When these kinds of relationships are formed people are enriched and good things begin to happen. Strong communities collectively celebrate happy occasions and rally together to help in times of need. People feel a sense of belonging. Families are valued. Children can grow up with positive role models and the elderly are respected and cared for.

While considering local markets I can’t help but think about who our neighbors really are. The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37 has always been one of our family’s favorites. It teaches a great lesson, so I read it to our kids while they were growing up and now, I’m reading it to our grandkids. If the truth be told, I like reading myself just as a reminder of how I should treat others.

Jesus taught that our “neighbor” is anyone we encounter regardless of their physical address, age, race, religion or socio-economic status. It’s a challenge laid before us that can only be accomplished if the Holy Spirit is leading.

Since I grew up in a small town (community) in Oklahoma, and we raised our family in a small town (community) in Oklahoma, I could make a long list of what I know is there. The benefits are innumerable. I wonder what the list of perceptions and expectations would look like if we surveyed people who were outside of a community but wanted to be in one.

Every person gets to choose their role and response. Let me encourage you to make a positive contribution to your community for the glory of God. Show up for people. Read your Bible. Pray continuously. Intentionally be thankful. Praise God regularly. Listen and care. Be salt. Be light. Smile and love big! It’s a win-win for everyone!

“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, but with gentleness and respect.” I Peter 3:15

“By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.” John 13:35