The Southwest region of Virginia includes farmers markets from Wytheville, to Hillsville, to Abingdon, and all markets south and west of the New River Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains, to the borders of Tennessee and Kentucky.
Managers in the Southwest region of Virginia are supported by the Appalachian Farmers Market Association which is made up of market managers from Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. AFMA started in 2009 and continues to be a network of Market Managers who meet regularly to work together in accomplishing our mission and goals. All Market Managers are welcome to attend AFMA’s meetings.
The Southwest region is rich with agricultural history. Tobacco was grown on many farms until the entry of the new millennium. Many farmers continue to farm while they keep regular jobs. Cattle and hay are the main products produced in the southwest region. There are a number of farmers and home gardeners who bring their fruit, vegetable, mushroom, and other harvests along with home baked and crafted goods to their local farmers markets.
There are around 30 Markets within the southwest’s geographic boundaries. Approximately half of these Managers attend AFMA meetings. Many of the markets in the southwest are small rural markets with a true sense of family and community. Some are completely volunteer run while others are fortunate enough to have support from their townships, parks and rec departments, or other community capacity to support the market’s management. You’ll find local foods deeply rooted in our Appalachian heritage including cushaw squash, October beans (brown beans), half runners and other green beans, potatoes, and corn. At some markets you’ll find beans of special interest in that community. Some like Turkey Craw while other like Pink Tips. Each market has a uniqueness that warms your heart and fills your belly.
Through participation in VAFMA, the Appalachian Farmers Market Association hopes to connect Market Managers in the Southwest region to additional resources and support. Through AFMA, Market Managers have the support of Appalachian Sustainable Development and their collective efforts. We assist markets in implementing programs like SNAP and double dollars. In 2016 and 17, AFMA is conducting the Rooted in Appalachia Roadshow to highlight the Southwest area markets and promote our connection as Farmers Markets being the heartbeat of local food in many of our communities. An annual Local Food Guide is also produced where people can find listings for our region’s farmers markets, farms, restaurants and businesses who are Rooted in Appalachia. The capacity of Appalachian Sustainable Development allows us to access funding that our small markets would otherwise not be able to secure.
The mission of the Appalachian Farmers Market Association (AFMA) is to support and sustain a viable network of community Farmers Markets throughout the Appalachian region of east Tennessee and western Virginia.
AFMA is a volunteer organization comprised of representatives from each of our participating Farmers Markets. To meet our mission, we have established the following goals:
Goal 1: Create effective economic opportunities for regional farmers, food producers and crafters.
Goal 2: Increase public awareness of Farmers Markets throughout this Appalachian region and to attract more customers to local Farmers Markets.
Goal 3: Provide educational opportunities and training events for Farmers Market managers, vendors and customers that will strengthen and grow our regional Farmers Markets.
Goal 4: Provide support and mentoring for new and emerging Farmers markets in our region.
Goal 5: Increase the availability of fresh, local foods to households of all income levels.
If you wish to get more involved with this the Appalachian Farmers Market Association, please visit their website at: asdevelop.org/get-involved/